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Best Things: Alexander Girard

Story from: Skinny laMinx

I’m off to see the Alexander Girard retrospective at the Vitra Museum in Basel today. Pinch me, please!

girard_installation

Alexander Girard_

The first time I came across the work of Alexander Girard was in a vintage shop in New York City, where I opened a vintage Herman Miller fabric book and felt my heart drop out of my chest. I saw there the simplest designs in colours and weaves of such quality, and they made me realise that a design could be ‘simple’ without being basic or easy. Also, ‘playful’ didn’t mean necessarily mean lightweight or throwaway . When done with integrity and excellence, simple and playful could be the essence of clarity.

Those fabrics were the first designs I saw by Alexander Girard, who I now know established Herman Miller’s textile division in 1952 and ran it for nearly two decades.

A Girard pattern for Herman Miller, 1964.
Girard for Herman Miller, 1964.
Girard - Manhattan, 1958
Girard – Manhattan, 1958
Ribbons, 1957
Girard – Ribbons, 1957
Girard Triangles 1952
Girard Pepitas 1952
Girard Pepitas 1952
An exhibition of Alexander Girard designed textiles while he headed Herman Miller’s textile division.
An exhibition of Alexander Girard designed textiles while he headed Herman Miller’s textile division.

Girard studied architecture originally, but over his long career, he made a name for himself in the fields of furniture, exhibition and interior design as well as in the graphic arts. Girard was a prolific designer, working across disciplines, and equally adept at creating textiles, furniture and graphics, as he was at creating  brand identities for international corporations. For instance, in 1965, Girard re-branded Braniff airlines, from ticket counters to the interiors of the planes, and his 1960 interior design for la Fonda Del Sol restaurant encompassed absolutely everything – from the the menus to the matchbooks to the napkins

A Braniff airliner interior with flight attendents in their new uniforms, 1965.
A Braniff airliner interior with flight attendents in their new uniforms, 1965.
Menu - la Fonda del Sol
Menu – la Fonda del Sol
girard_5
A custom Alexander Girard rug for the Miller House.
Matchboxes designed by Girard
Matchboxes designed by Girard

When Alexander Girard passed away in 1993, his lifelong collection of textiles from around the world, as well as the contents of his studio, including hundreds of drawings, prototypes and textile samples, were bequeathed  to the Vitra Design Museum, and this is what I’ll be seeing at Vitra in Basel on Tuesday. Must remember to pack my heart pills, cos it’s going to be shockingly inspiring.

If you enjoyed this, you need to head over to see the Girard section in the Cooper Hewitt Collection, where they have 41 pages of textile samples with notes in their records. It’s quite extraordinary.

This post is from Skinny laMinx. Click here to read the full text

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