Alexander Girard – an Iconic Inspiration

The late Alexander Girard has been an inspiration to Steve since first seeing his iconic mid-century designs. When you think of mid-century design, chances are you envision a Girard design, whether you know it or not.

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As a multi-platform designer, Girard is especially meaningful to Steve, as he continues to expand his own design platforms, from painting to textile and interior design… With style icons such as Alexander Girard, who knows what could come next for our own Steve McKenzie?!?

Alexander Girard (1907-1993)
Alexander Girard (1907-1993)

Here’s a bit more about Alexander Girard:

Alexander Girard was widely known for his textile design which introduced vibrant colors and playful patterns to mid century modern design.  Girard was born in New York City to an American mother and an Italian father, but raised in Florence, Italy. Girard studied architecture in Europe. He returned to the United States in 1932, and started a career as a designer. His career took off after designing “For Modern Living” exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1949. Three years later, he was offered a position as the head of the textile division at Herman Miller, Inc.

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At Herman Miller, Girard successfully introduced a new concept in textile design with his vibrant color palette and playful patterns inspired by traditional folk art he cherished. In early 1950s, fabrics were merely functional, but they tended to be dull and plain.

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His textile designs complemented the furniture designs of his fellow mid century modern designers, Charles Eames and George Nelson. Girard’s work at Herman Miller continued until 1975, designing hundreds of fabrics as a result. He also developed a seating collection for the company between 1967 and 1968. Originals from this collection are rare and highly desirable among many collectors today.

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Apart from Herman Miller, Girard designed three restaurants in 1960’s: the La Fonda del Sol restaurant, in New York City; the L’Etoile Restaurant, also in New York City; and the Compound Restaurant, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also contributed in a design project of Braniff Airlines in mid 1960’s, totally redesigning everything from the condiment packets to the planes themselves.

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During 1960’s, Girard and his wife Susan moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he founded the Girard Foundation to manage more than 100,000 pieces of his folk art collection. This enormous collection was donated to the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe in 1978 and recognized as the world’s largest folk art collection today.

An iconic Knoll table by Alexander Girard
An iconic Knoll table by Alexander Girard
In addition to his work with Herman Miller, Girard also worked on the Saint Louis Arch with Eero Saarinen, designed furniture for Knoll, designed the Irwin Miller, Cummins Engine offices in Columbus, IN (Jill’s family’s hometown), and worked with Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley to design the Irwin Miller Home, one of the greatest pieces of iconic modernist aesthetic.
Irwin Miller, Cummins Engine offices
Irwin Miller, Cummins Engine offices
Recently, Alexander Girard designs are back on the current design scene, thanks to a new Girard inspired collection now available through Paperless Post. They’ve taken some of Girard’s most memorable designs and transformed them into digital stationary – something we think the designer would’ve gotten a real kick out of!
An assortment of Girard inspired designs for Paperless Post
An assortment of Girard inspired designs for Paperless Post
We’re thinking this fabulous new collection may be just the encouragement Steve needs to explore the stationary he has always wanted to create :-))
How about you – are you an Alexander Girard fan??

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