November 5, 2012
Trained as an architect, but proficient in all manner of activities, Alexander Girard was introduced to Herman Miller through Charles Eames and George Nelson. In 1952, Girard established the Herman Miller Textile Division and served as its Director of Design until 1973. From his outpost in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he designed over 300 textiles, multiple collections of wallpaper, decorative prints and wall hangings, an expansive group of furniture, and both decorative and useful objects.
Introduced in 1952, Girard’s first textile collection for Herman Miller included a range of bold colors and versatile textures. To this foundation he went on to add woven patterns and printed designs. Unhampered by the style and taste of his day, Girard explored different approaches to color, pattern, texture, mood, and production method. The resulting body of work is not only staggering in volume and creativity, but due to its beauty and usefulness, remains completely relevant today.
Our first re-edition of Alexander Girard Textiles focuses on textures. Though often heralded for his patterns, Girard produced a body of woven textures for Herman Miller that are timeless and versatile. Each textile is faithfull in weave and color to its original, with one enhancement: each now uses the most advanced environmental constructions and materials available.
Better World, Products, What's Up
February 6, 2012
Whether it’s an affordable work chair or a textile, we always approach design with a better world in mind.
Enter Gem, a new polyester upholstery fabric that is antimony-free, making it a good choice for the earth. Polyester is one of the world’s most popular polymers; unfortunately making it is harmful to the environment. Designing a better polyester meant replacing antimony, a heavy metal used as a catalyst, with titanium, a much more earth-friendly choice.
Gem is durable, inexpensive, and easy to take care of—and it’s part of Herman Miller’s quest for a Better World.
January 5, 2011
In 2006, after 20 years as an independent design consultant, Kristie Strasen founded Place Textiles, a collection of her own designs. Herman Miller recently announced an alliance with Place that provides 16 new fabrics for its Classic seating designs.
How did you get started in textile design? I’ve always been interested in fabrics as an avocation, but my undergraduate degree was in English, and I actually taught high school English for three years. Then I traveled to Ireland to do research on folklore. While I was traveling, I became captivated by the weaving that was happening in Ireland at the time. I’d go down a country road and hear this clacking sound, and people were sitting there weaving. I absolutely fell in love with it.
I sent home all my research on folklore, and I traveled to the Orkney and Shetland Islands, through Yugoslavia and Turkey, into Iran and Afghanistan to see the weaving. When I got home, I went back to school and got a graduate degree in textiles.
Describe Place Textiles. Place is really about color, texture, and durable luxury. I love systems of color that integrate well; the entire Place line is organized around a clear color matrix.
I wanted the company to be about the integrity of the woven structure, and I wanted the fabrics always to enhance the sculptural characteristics of the furniture. So the focus of our company is very much in tune with Herman Miller, and in fact, companies like Herman Miller inspired me to start a company like Place—to create fabrics that enhance the seating rather than competing with it.
What does this alliance bring to Herman Miller’s fabric lines? Place provides Herman Miller with a little more upscale choice for its customers. All our fabrics are woven with yarns that have a huge amount of integrity. For example, wool is a fantastic fiber with characteristics that make it ideal for certain types of upholstery. One of the new fabrics, Balmory, is a beautiful nubby wool bouclé. It’s yarn-dyed, not piece dyed, so there’s a tremendous amount of nuance in the color. It will provide really good performance and the durability that a Herman Miller customer would absolutely expect.
There’s a wide range of neutrals in this collection, but where we have color, there’s no timidity about it, so we have some wonderful reds, some bright greens, some oranges.
I feel such a strong affinity with what I’m trying to do with Place and what Miller’s been doing all these years. For me, it’s about the integrity of the woven structure; for Herman Miller it’s about the integrity of the structure of the furniture.
Second photo courtesy of Jean Lin, otto architecture + design
Design, What's Up
December 15, 2010
Several years before Kristie Strasen founded Place Textiles in New York in 2006, she visited Herman Miller as a leading textile designer and consultant. She remembers how impressed she was with Herman Miller’s Materials philosophy. “I was very excitied,” says Strasen. “We had parallel attitudes about design and color of fabrics. We understood each other. Since then, my aesthetic sense has always been in tune with Herman Miller.”
Today, she says, “I’m extremely excited again.” She recently reconnected with Herman Miller, and the result is what she calls “a match made in heaven.” Place Textiles is now an alliance partner with Herman Miller, and a selection of her line is now part of Herman Miller’s Textile Alliance Program.
The alliance with Herman Miller honors Strasen’s lifelong admiration for the very designers whom she revered when she conceived Place Textiles. “The whole idea behind Place is to create higher-end fabrics with beautiful color and texture,” she says, “and not focus on pattern. It’s a tightly integrated palette, with clear, clean, bright colors as well as neutrals. This combination complements the historical importance that Herman Miller places on color.”
Training as a hand weaver also gives Strasen a keen understanding of the architecture of the woven fabric and has contributed to her award-winning success in textile design.