Alexander Girard: Vibrant Modern Posted March 1, 2007 by Daniel Ostroff

“Girard felt that color was just what fabrics needed, and Herman Miller gave him the freedom to express himself.”

Charles and Ray Eames introduced their friend Alexander Girard to Herman Miller who hired him as director of design for its textile division in 1952, a time when fabrics were purely functional and no fun at all–dull, drab, without pattern. “People got fainting fits if they saw bright, pure color,” Girard said.

Girard felt that color was just what fabrics needed, and Herman Miller gave him the freedom to express himself.ES_2007_Feb_DwellFEATUREDWith primary colors, concise geometric patterns, and a touch of humor, he injected joy and spontaneity into fabrics, making them a vibrant part of homes and offices. His designs perfectly complemented the progressive Herman Miller furniture designed by his friends, Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson.

Girard’s work with Herman Miller continued into the 1970s, when he spiced up the Action Office system with a series of decorative panel fabrics.

Girard’s risky, sometimes iconoclastic fabrics were inspired not by a vision of the future but by a love of traditional folk art. Avid collectors, he and his wife, Susan, surrounded themselves with pieces from over 100 countries. These colorful, whimsical objects inspired him and provided a framework for his designs.

In early 2007, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art featured Girard’s work in an exhibition entitled, Vibrant Modernwhich is heralded on this page from the February 2007 issue of Dwell.

A highlight of the show is an Eames La Fonda Armchair lusciously upholstered in one of Girard’s “Jacob’s Coat” striped fabrics.

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Click here to learn more about the exhibition at SFMOMA, curated by Ruth Keffer.