International Love Heart

A Vitra Anecdote

The symbol of love is a well-known motif in the design world of Alexander Girard, who created myriad variations of the heart shape in his graphic works and textile patterns. Alexander Girard’s International Love Heart is a quintessential representation of who he was, both as a designer and as a person.

Originally created in 1961 for the Textiles & Objects shop in New York City, this design speaks to Girard’s passion for typography, graphics, language – and above all, the universal sentiment of love. It strikes a balance of being clean, bold and concise, and at the same time soft, romantic and winsome. Girard constantly wove messages of peace, love and understanding into his work without ever succumbing to kitsch or sentimentality, and the International Love Heart is a perfect example. Comprising the word ‘love’ in many languages, this unique heart-shaped design also bears witness to Girard’s lifelong fascination with global dialects.

The motif was part of a larger range of designs that Alexander Girard created for printed pillows made of cotton and linen. The International Love Heart was later displayed in the form of a wooden wall decoration in The Compound restaurant, which Girard designed in 1966. Along with the interior of his private home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Compound restaurant was one of just a few local works. Unlike most of Girard’s richly ornamented and sumptuously coloured collages of patterns and objects, the detailing and furnishings in The Compound are characterised by a simpler, more rural charm. With its calligraphic lettering painted in black on a plain white background, this decorative wall object contributes to a lovely, warm atmosphere for the guests who dine there.

In 1967, Alexander Girard further developed the idea of the International Love Heart in his design of a textile that used the same distinctive letters, repeating them in a never-ending love pattern. Other examples of heart motifs by Alexander Girard are his famous Love Heart and a vast variety of double hearts, often referred to as ‘Sansusi’ – the combined nicknames of Girard (Sandro) and his wife Susan.

Publication date: 31.1.19
Author: Aleishall Girard and Stine Liv Buur
Images: © Vitra Design Museum, Girard Studio, LLC

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