Design, What's Up
May 31, 2012
Every year, late in the month of May, we celebrate the birthdays of George Nelson and Alexander Girard. Director of design and director of textiles, respectively, these two men established design as central to all aspects of the company. In many instances their works were the face of Herman Miller to the world. We owe them much.
May 28, 2012
Designer Alexander Girard often found inspiration in the sun. Influenced by his collection of indigenous folk art from Central and South America, Girard explored the symbol of the sun in his work.
“Old Sun” was designed in 1972 as part of the Environmental Enrichment program Girard created for Herman Miller.
March 20, 2012
A rare synergy occurred in 1953 in the small town of Columbus, Indiana. Three leaders of the international Modernist movement—architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer Alexander Girard and landscape architect Dan Kiley—joined to create the Miller House and Garden. Commissioned by J. Irwin Miller, and completed in 1957, the Miller House is one of the country’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist homes.
Girard, who joined Herman Miller in 1950 as director of upholstery and the newly created textile division, furnished the Miller House with pieces from the Herman Miller Collection together with his custom textiles and carpets. The residence is also a sublime example of Alexander Girard’s mastery of the artful collage—combining furniture, fabrics, accessories, and art to create unified and joyful environments.
November 16, 2011
In the mid-60s, Braniff International Airways, determined to mark “the end of the plain plane,” approached designer Alexander Girard to create an eye-catching visual identity for the company.
Having the opportunity to express himself on a truly grand scale, Girard left no aspect of the airline untouched. He designed Braniff’s logo, its boarding lounges, inflight stationary, ground equipment, and even the packages for its coffee and sugar. He had the entire fleet of airplanes painted hues ranging from deep grey to vermillion. “You can fly our airline seven times and never fly the same color twice,” boasted one Braniff executive.
In 1967, Girard designed a collection of furniture for use in Braniff’s lounges. Including chairs, sofas, and tables, the designs, while beautiful, were exorbitantly expensive to produce. As a result, Herman Miller only made the collection for two years.
In his effort to transform Braniff into “the most beautiful airline in the world” Girard initiated 17, 543 changes. His work received acclaim from both the press and public and certainly drew customers to the airline.
Unfortunately, Alexander Girard’s Braniff designs are no longer available today.
May 11, 2011
The Miller House opened its doors to the public for the first time yesterday, and Cerentha Harris, of Lifework fame, and I were among the first to set foot inside. The tour was a great opportunity to experience a rare synergy between three masters: Eero Saarinen, architecture; Alexander Girard, interior design; and Daniel Kiley, landscape design.
Guided by Girard’s careful eye, the interiors showcase some of the best in mid-century modern design, including many Herman Miller classics, as well as pieces created exclusively for the Miller family. From Xenia Miller’s collections on display to the personalized dining chair cushions, the interiors also wonderfully reflect the personality of family that called the house “home” for so many years.
Whether your interest is design or architecture, or you just appreciate cool things, a visit to the Miller House is a worthwhile trip.
Also, be sure to checkout Cerentha’s post on Lifework.
November 10, 2009
Known for his iconic textile patterns and colors, Alexander Girard brought a new dimension of modern design to Herman Miller in the fabrics he designed during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. One well-known design is “Daisy Face,” a screen-print created for the Action Office system in 1972.
In this video, hear what Bob Guerin, of Propp + Guerin Design, says about the three-dimensional “Daisy Face” sculpture outside Herman Miller’s Los Angeles showroom. It’s another way we’ve harmonized the details of design with the natural world.
July 17, 2009
“Art is only art when it is synonymous with living.” — Alexander Girard
Alexander Girard’s playful patterns and bright colors were a breath of fresh air into the otherwise stodgy and often colorless domestic world of post-war America.