Alexander Girard was trained as an architect and began practicing architecture and interior design in the 1920s, and became the design director for Herman Miller’s textile division in 1952. Girard also became fascinated by international folk art which he began collecting on his travels in the 1930s and managed to amass over 100,000 pieces including toys, costumes, masks, textiles, beadwork and paintings. This formal training as an architect and love of folk art designs are two streams of inspiration apparent in Girard’s work. Many of his designs are strongly geometric and streamlined expressing the precision required of an architect. His use of bright colors reflects the influence of folk art designs. The use of bright colors was unusual in this time when the norm was for muddy or dulled-down color palettes.
This wallpaper collection designed for Herman Miller in 1953 contains eight different patterns with each available in multiple colorways. All of the papers are printed in a single color on a range of neutral grounds, and as they were designed to coordinate with Girard’s line of textiles, they helped create a more harmonious interior. A number of these patterns are available today as both textiles and wallcoverings through Maharam.
Several of Girard’s designs were included in the 1953 Good Design Show, a series of exhibitions jointly sponsored by the Merchandise Mart of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Girard was also responsible for the design of the exhibition space for this installment.
Today is Alexander Girard’s birthday!
Check out the Girard Alphabet Blocks and other Girard pieces at shop.cooperhewitt.org!