Alexander Hayden Girard
Warp x Weft: 12 x 12”
There are two certitudes commonly assigned to midcentury designer Alexander Girard: He was the least well-known of the great designers at Herman Miller in the 1950s and 1960s, and he was the greatest colorist and textile designer of modern time. Although seemingly contradictory, both statements are accurate and are a reflection of Girard and the time period in which he worked. During his career, Girard energized the furniture designs of his Herman Miller colleagues with a new, vibrant color palette and an oeuvre of folk-inspired textiles. He was the first modern designer to define textiles as being more than just functional and to further emphasize form through the application of color and pattern.
Born in 1907 in New York City to an American mother and an Italian father, Girard moved back to Italy with his family shortly after his birth. Raised in Florence, Girard was educated as an architect at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. In 1932, Girard returned to the United States and opened his first design office in New York City. Five years later, he moved again, to Detroit, where he opened a second studio. His career breakthrough came in 1949, when he was chosen to design the Detroit Institute of Arts For Modern Living exhibition, which focused on the design of common items and included the first public display of Charles and Ray Eames’ molded plywood chairs. In 1952, Charles Eames recruited Girard to become Herman Miller’s director of design for the company’s textile division. Girard’s tenure at Herman Miller continued into the 1970s and resulted in more than 300 vibrantly hued fabric and wallpaper designs. —Design Within Reach
📷 Cooper Hewitt