Design, What's Up
January 1, 2013
Fifty years ago, Alexander Girard, the head of Herman Miller’s Textile Division from 1952 to 1973, introduced this playful design and called it “January.” Girard’s distinctive combination of color, originality, and spirit came from his love of folk art, his world travels, and his delightfully curious personality.
Here’s hoping the optimism of Girard’s design inspires you in this new year. Click here to download one of six free desktop wallpapers featuring “January” for your computer, mobile, or tablet device.
June 12, 2012
Trained as an architect, but immensely multi-talented, Alexander Girard joined Herman Miller in 1952, serving as Director of Design for the Textile Division until 1973.
From his outpost in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Girard designed textiles, collections of wallpaper, decorative prints and wall hangings, an expansive group of furniture, and both decorative and useful objects. His passion for international folk art (or “toys” as he called them) led him around the globe, amassing a collection of roughly 106,000 pieces. Recognized for the diversity of his skills, Girard brought a unique vision to everything that he did.
Experience Girard’s way of seeing in Uncommon Vision, an ongoing exhibit of Girard’s textiles, graphics, furniture and interiors, along with personal artifacts. On display in our Chicago Showroom, located on the third floor of the Merchandise Mart, everyone is welcome to stop by and take a look.
November 9, 2011
Alexander Girard’s playful patterns and bright colors were a relief from the otherwise stodgy and often colorless domestic world of post-war America.
Girard came to the attention of Herman Miller through his friendship with Charles Eames. In the 1940s the two men realized they had coincidentally designed almost identical modern radio cabinets and were both experimenting with plywood chairs. Eames introduced him to George Nelson, who invited Girard to join Herman Miller in 1952 as director of the newly created textile division.
Herman Miller was in need of modern fabrics to complement its modern designs. According to the company’s founder D.J. De Pree, “[Girard] was the one to lend excitement to the designs of Nelson and Eames.” Girard saw his job simply as making life a little better through fabrics. Drawing inspiration from his architectural training, Girard developed a textile collection consisting of primary colors and geometric patterns. A colorful contrast to the prevailing style, the collection was a critical and market success.
Girard’s love of color, pattern, and texture, his gifted imagination and courage to express his own aesthetic freedom, made him an influential force in modernism. Girard was an artist and innovator who brought a human element of delight to everything he touched.
Many of Girard’s textile designs are being produced today by Maharam.