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Alexander Girard

The director of design for the textiles department at Herman Miller, Inc., from 1952 to 1973, mid-century modern visionary Alexander Girard introduced bright, bouncy colors to upholstery and drapery fabrics, created jaunty graphics for marketing and advertising materials and devised motifs for everything from textiles to ceramics based on his true love: folk art from cultures around the globe.

The son of an American mother and an Italian father, Girard (known as Sandro to his friends) was born in New York City in 1907 but raised in Florence. He came from a creative family — his father was a master woodworker — and Girard began drawing and making his own playthings as a youngster. He had a fascination for nativity crèche tableaux, an enthusiasm that likely was the germ for his later interest in folk art. He went on to earn degrees in architecture at schools in both Rome and London before returning to New York in the 1930s and working in interior design.

By the 1940s, he and his wife, Susan, had moved to Detroit, where Girard was head of design for Detrola, a firm specializing in tabletop radios. The elegant bentwood housings that he developed for the devices won him acclaim, but, more importantly, at Detrola he met Charles Eames. The two became lifelong friends, and it was Eames who drew Girard toward Herman Miller, which had no dedicated textile department until Girard arrived, and most of its furniture was upholstered in mundane, “safe” hues. Girard changed all that, introducing fabrics in vivid shades of red, orange, yellow and blue. His early designs incorporated geometric motifs — stripes, circles, square, triangles and such. But toward the end of the 1950s he began to introduce folk art themes into his designs.

Girard did not collect important or expensive folk pieces. Rather he was drawn to simple objects such as handmade toys, figurines and models of animals, buildings and plants. The fabrics that emerged had whimsical, lighthearted motifs depicting, for example, angels, children, birds and flowers. Toward the end of his term with Herman Miller, in an effort to achieve what he termed “aesthetic functionalism,” Girard produced a group of what he called “Environmental Enrichment” pieces — silk-screened cotton panels emblazoned with various graphic designs, from bold geometric patterns to folk art themes. They were meant to divide spaces in offices or the home in lieu of walls while simultaneously functioning as art. Today, panels of vintage Girard upholstery textiles have become premium collectibles. The designer's furniture is less well known, primarily because most of it was created for private commissions.

Girard’s most lasting contribution may be his folk art collection. He and Susan had begun gathering pieces shortly after their marriage, in 1936. By the 1970s, they had amassed the world’s largest collection of cross-cultural folk art, composed of more than 100,000 pieces from around the world. The Girards donated their holdings to the Museum of International Folk Art, in Santa Fe (where they had moved in the ’60s), quintupling the institution’s collection, and a new wing — named for the Girards — had to be built to hold it.

Find a striking range of vintage Alexander Girard seating, tables, textiles and other furnishings on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$1,584
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Rare Alexander Girard Fabric Herman Miller Eames Black Fiberglass Arm Shell
By Alexander Girard, Charles Eames
Located in Buffalo, NY
Extremely rare Alexander Girard Jacobs Coat Eames fiberglass arm shell chair by Herman Miller. There are 6 available,, ***PRICE PER CHAIR , Good original condition,, fabric no longe...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alexander Girard

Materials

Metal

Herman Miller Chairs Alexander Girard Miller Stripe
By Alexander Girard, Herman Miller
Located in BROOKLYN, NY
Post Modern Herman Miller Chairs with gorgeous Alexander Girard Miller Stripe fabric. Added bonus is that these can stack. Up to 3 available Arm H 25'' ask for custom shipping quote
Category

1980s American Post-Modern Vintage Alexander Girard

Materials

Metal

Modernist Alexander Girard Fabric Chairs by Peter Protzmann for Herman Miller
By Herman Miller, Alexander Girard, Peter Protzmann
Located in Buffalo, NY
Peter Protzman’s design career began in Michigan where he spent over 10 years with Herman Miller working alongside such design luminaries as Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson. ...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alexander Girard

Materials

Metal, Chrome

1965 Alexander Girard for Braniff Airlines & Herman Miller Glass Coffee Table
By Alexander Girard
Located in Seattle, WA
Alongside his contemporaries Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson, Alexander Girard was a prominent figure in postwar US design. In a departure from the rather austere Modernist a...
Category

1960s North American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alexander Girard

Materials

Aluminum

Marilyn Neuhart Alexander Girard Doll Textiles & Objects
By Marilyn Neuhart, Alexander Girard
Located in Atlanta, GA
Rare Hand Made Doll, by Marilyn Neuhart for Textiles & Objects, which was a "pop up shop" conceived by Alexander Girard and sponsored by Herman Miller in May of 1961. See the last tw...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alexander Girard

Materials

Wool, Linen, Silk

1965 Alexander Girard for Braniff Airlines & Herman Miller Marble Coffee Table
By Alexander Girard
Located in Seattle, WA
Alongside his contemporaries Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson, Alexander Girard was a prominent figure in postwar US design. In a departure from the rather austere Modernist a...
Category

1960s North American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alexander Girard

Materials

Aluminum

Alexander Girard for Braniff Airlines Hexagon Side Table
By Alexander Girard
Located in Seattle, WA
Alongside his contemporaries Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson, Alexander Girard was a prominent figure in postwar US design. In a departure from the rather austere Modernist a...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Swiss Mid-Century Modern Alexander Girard

Materials

Aluminum

Marilyn Neuhart Alexander Girard Doll from Textiles & Objects
By Alexander Girard, Marilyn Neuhart
Located in Atlanta, GA
Rare Hand Made Doll, by Marilyn Neuhart for Textiles & Objects, which was a "pop up shop" conceived by Alexander Girard and sponsored by Herman Miller in May of 1961. See the last tw...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alexander Girard

Materials

Wool, Linen, Silk

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Alexander Girard furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Alexander Girard furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of fabric and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Alexander Girard furniture, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 37 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 8 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Alexander Girard were created in the mid-century modern style in north america during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Charak Furniture Company, Phillip Lloyd Powell, and Kittinger. Prices for Alexander Girard furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $150 and can go as high as $250,000, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $2,300.

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