In the beginning of the 1970s, Alexander Girard designed a powerful collection of 40 Environmental Enrichment panels. Including such archetypal symbols as the Love Heart, Sun, Snake, Eyes, Four Leaf Clover, man and woman, a myriad of geometric patterns and many more, these panels served a universal purpose of bringing life, pattern and colour into a room. Many institutions at the time had become drab, staid places of work, learning or healthcare. These injections of familiar yet totally original depictions had an undeniably positive effect on the rooms they adorned.Girard was a pioneer in so many ways and is often lauded for resurrecting colour, pattern and texture in the world of textiles. While this is certainly true, the value of his legacy runs much deeper. It was Girard’s messages of cross-cultural similarities, interfaith ambitions of peace, and a belief that wide gaps can be bridged through good design for all, which continue to make the most profound impact.
It is this sense of freedom juxtaposed with masterful precision that you feel when looking at these designs. They are both gallant and sweet, simple and complex, personal and universal. None of these is more enduring than the symbol of the Love Heart. The Heart was something that Girard explored again and again throughout his career, as it represents the very essence of life; and Love, a global sentiment that permeates different cultures, languages and even time itself, was a message he never tired of sharing.