Although Alexander Girard worked closely with Herman Miller and designers such as George Nelson or Charles and Ray Eames; Alexander Girard’s speciality was not furniture but fabrics, folk art and colour.
Born in America and raised in Italy Alexander Girard studied architecture in London before a lack of architectural openings saw him spend several years working as an exhibition and interior designer; most notably in Sweden where he worked in the design department of the Nordiska department store. In 1937 Girard moved to New York in search of architectural work, but again with a lack of opportunities he took on numerous design jobs. In 1951 Charles Eames persuaded him to join Herman Miller where in 1952 he was appointed head of the new textiles department.
In addition to designing textiles Alexander Girard also designed exhibition stands for Hermann Miller and created interior design concepts for the stores; including T&O (Textiles and Objects) shop opened in New York in 1961 and whose range was dominated Alexander Girard’s passion for folk art.
Aside from his collaborations with Herman Miller Alexander Girard also worked for companies as varied as the Ford Motor Company, Hallmark Cards and Braniff Airways.
Greatly inspired as it is by folk art, Alexander Girard’s work is often signified by it’s bold use of colour – and as such make wonderful Christmas gifts.
Vitra Wooden Doll No 12 by Alexander Girard
With his jester suit and cheeky grin Vitra Wooden Doll No 12 by Alexander Girard passes wonderfully into any modern Christmas scene. Originally created for T&O Alexander Girard’s wooden dolls never entered production during his lifetime – as Hermann Miller closed T&O before they could be introduced. However thanks to the Vitra Design Museum the Wooden Dolls have finally been released on an adoring global public.
Millerstripe Multicoloured Bright cushion by Alexander Girard
The cushion itself is not from Girard – rather the pattern. Originally designed in 1973 – so towards the end of Girard’s tenure at Hermann Miller – Millerstripe Multicoloured Bright was re-issued by New York based textile producer Maharam as part “Textiles of the 20th Century” collection. And subsequently chosen by Hella Jongerius to form part of the Vitra Design Museum cushion collection. With its simple geometry and vivid colours Millerstripe Multicoloured Bright is a wonderful example of how Alexander Girard incorporated the basics of folk art in his work.
Vitra Classic Tray Eden by Alexander Girard
As with the cushion, the tray is not from Alexander Girard – rather the pattern. Also created during his time with Herman Miller, Eden wonderfully combines childhood innocence with serious art. Printed on high-grade thermoset, the Vitra design Museum classic trays are dishwasher safe, food safe … and delightful.
La Fonda Armchair by Charles and Ray Eames
Although designed by Charles and Ray Eames the La Fonda Armchair was commissioned for one of Alexander Girard’s most important interior design projects in New York – the La Fonda del Sol restaurant in the Rockefeller Centre. Impressed by his work for the T&O shop the restaurant operators asked Girrad to design the interior of La Fonda del Sol with a South American folk art theme – a commission that initiated Girard’s first trip to South America, a study tour that took in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil. In 2009 Vitra stopped production of the La Fonda Armchair – but (smow) still have one or the other in stock.
Vitra Wooden Doll No 1-11 and 13-16 by Alexander Girard
Before we have a mutiny on our hands. Alexander Girard deisgned 23 dolls for T&O from which the Vitra Design Museum have released16. Each with their own personality and story. Weather individual or in a set, there can be few more adorable companions for the winter months. The full range can be viewed here.