Alexander Girard (1907 – 1993) was a man of many design talents. He trained as an architect, he practised across disciplines—making furniture, designing interiors, patterning wallpapers. Girard is perhaps best known for his work as Herman Miller’s head of textiles, a title he carried from 1952 to 1973.
He is often considered one of the 20th centuries finest graphics and textile artist as well as an extensive collector of the works of other artisans. His work particularly in the field of textile design, was influenced by his large collection of folk art.
In Florence, Rome, London, Paris, and New York, he worked in architecture offices. He opened an office in Florence in 1930. He opened an office in Detroit in 1937. He produced interiors for Ford and Lincoln automobiles in 1943 and 1946, respectively.
Between 1951 and 1952, he worked as a colour consultant at the General Motors Research Center in Detroit, Michigan (designed by Eero Saarinen). He started designing textiles for Herman Miller in Zeeland, Michigan, in 1952. Under design director George Nelson, he became director of Herman Miller’s fabric division in 1952. For Herman Miller, he produced upholstery fabrics and casement products and exuberant, bright, large-patterned prints.
He opened an office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1953. He designed the Braniff Airlines corporate identity graphics software in 1965 and the interior of film director Billy Wilder’s home in Los Angeles in 1957. Interiors for the La Fonda del Sol restaurant in New York in 1960 and the L’Etoile restaurant in New York in 1966 (both created by Knoll).
His extensive collection of folk art influenced his work, especially in the field of textile design. He founded the Girard Foundation in Santa Fe in 1961, which houses an international collection of toys and related items.
Italian Pavilion and Florentine Artisans Guild interior-design model rooms at 1929 “Exposicion Internacional de Barcelona”; 1950 “Design for Modern Use, Made in the USA” travelling exhibition to Europe organised by New York Museum of Modern Art; 1968 “El Encanto de un Pueblo” exhibition at 1968 “Hemisfair 68,” San Antonio, Texas He was appointed Honorary Royal Designer for Industry in London in 1965.
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