An Exhibition for Modern Living

DATE - 1949

Alexander Girard designed, organized, and directed An Exhibition for Modern Living at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1949. Girard’s goal was to present an array of contemporary housewares and objects—both handmade and machine-made—including furniture, glassware, kitchen equipment, flatware, toys, tools, and jewelry. 

Additional Information

Girard’s overall plan for the exhibition consisted of seven rooms, each designed by a different designer. He chose the Eameses, counted as one designer together, to be in the company of Alvar Aalto, Florence Knoll, George Nelson, Bruno Mathsson, Jens Risom, and Eero Saarinen. In addition to showcasing the work of these eight designers, the exhibition hall neighbored a garden terrace furnished by Van Keppel Green and a mural by artist Saul Steinberg.

George Nelson described the Eames room as “not so much a literal presentation of a room as an expression of an attitude, conveyed through the use of a special personal vocabulary.” This space served as the public debut of the ESU, the Eames Storage Units. Also on display was the full-scale mockup of the La Chaise, a seating design the Eameses submitted the year prior to a furniture competition held by the Museum of Modern Art, and the Galaxy Light, a light fixture that was never produced. The exhibition opened on September 9th, 1949, and closed on November 20th of the same year.

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