A Modern Master of Color and Pattern Inspired by folk art, typography, and vivid color, Alexander Girard was a design polymath whose signature aesthetic touched every project he undertook. As the director of Herman Miller’s Textile Division from 1952-1973, his designs helped imbue postwar modernism with playfulness, and wit.
Girard’s 1960 interior for New York’s La Fonda del Sol restaurant brought him wide acclaim; patrons were dazzled by its sunburst icon, and the way it seemed to reappear with a wink at every turn, from matchbooks and napkins to waitstaff uniforms. In 1965, Girard was hired to help rebrand Braniff International Airways. In his signature holistic fashion, he brought eye-catching colors into every facet of Braniff’s operation, from aircraft to sugar packets, seat cushions, and ticket counters.
When Girard joined Herman Miller in 1952, there was a limited appetite for color and pattern at the company. A noted collector of international folk art, he found inspiration working with a textile mill in Mexico, developing what he called "mexidots" and "mexistripes.” He would eventually create more than 300 textiles for Herman Miller, along with wallpapers, objects, furniture, and a series of Environmental Enrichment Panels as part of the Action Office system in 1973.
Alexander Girard designs for Herman Miller remain cheery icons of postwar modernism: the Color Wheel Ottoman combines geometric pattern with soft upholstery—as cozy and inviting as a vividly hued Girard throw. Though he’s famous for his textile designs, his aesthetic approach was cohesive and transcended genres. “I have no favorite material,” he once said; “anything can be used to create beauty if handled well.”