Alexander Girard brought a new meaning to color and texture for Mid Century Modern creators. Born in New York, raised in Florence, Italy, and educated in London, Girard was a man of many talents—his design repertoire consisting of architectural, furniture, exhibition, interior and graphic design.
Girard shook up and ultimately formed many of the modernist American trends today, his projects led to iconic buildings and restaurants, and he also produced textiles for his own pieces and some of his fellow designers’ works. He believed all things could be designed into something worthwhile, and often used the unusual to set his own pieces apart from the rest
Inspired by his wife’s love for folk design, Girard utilized many materials in unique, inventive ways. From different types of yarn to multiple blends of fabrics and eye-catching patterns, his love for brightly colored design translated into pieces that are highly coveted by collectors today. Unafraid of a challenge, Girard used materials uncommon in modernist design like lace, flower and heart prints, burlap and even tea paper.
“I have no favorite material; anything can be used to create beauty if handled well,” he said. His willingness to work with odd materials set him apart from designers of his time, but unfortunately sometimes 1950s consumers weren’t ready to display his inventive designs in their homes.
His methods showed later designers that textiles aren’t just for function, that fabrics can work alongside a design, elevating not only the look, but also the feel of the pieces themselves. Girard’s designs and patterns have stood the test of time and are still in production today, proof of his lasting influence on the Midcentury Modernist community.
Looking for on era icons? Check out this post on Paul Mccobb, one of the mid century’s most prolific furniture designers.