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.
The Miller House has multiple outdoor living and dining areas created by an extended roof and a continuous travertine floor, blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors. Girard, faced with furnishing these spaces, noted to Charles Eames the lack of high-quality outdoor furniture. Charles and Ray and the Eames Office responded by designing an innovative group of chairs with aluminum frames tautly supporting a continuous plane of plastic cloth.
Herman Miller began producing the Aluminum Group chairs in 1958, originally promoting the chairs as the “leisure group” or alternatively the “indoor-outdoor group.” The Millers owned some of the first production models. It didn’t take long for the Aluminum Group to move inside exclusively, perhaps due to their lithe form. Now, that distinctive design returns to its place of origin with materials, finishes, and hardware fit for the Miller House terraces and all outdoors. A classic returns to its original environment.