The first encounter with the world and work of the architect Alexander Girard is for many as a walk through a wonderland of fairytales. It represents an explosive firework of bright colours, magic shapes in a myriad of materials used for all scales of work, interior and exterior architecture, furniture, figurines, motifs and graphics designed for such places as restaurants, exhibitions and private residences, and not least as presents to friends, family and his wife Susan. Alexander Girard was director for Herman Miller textiles from 1952 to 73 and designed more than 300 innovative fabrics, some of which enhanced Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson’s furniture.Alexander Girard, born in 1907 New York and raised in Florence, Italy, spent his latter decades in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he and his wife made their adobe house into a laboratory for bold experimentations and amassed a collection of 106.000 pieces of folk art from all over the world, Alaska, Mexico, Poland, Ethiopia, Japan and more. Rolf Fehlbaum, son of the Vitra’s founding family, later described the home as the most fascinating house he had ever seen in the United States.Today most of the folk art pieces are on permanent view at Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art and following Alexander Girard’s death in 1993, the Girard family gave his archive of drawings and prototypes to the Vitra Design Museum. Since then, the Girard collection has been a solid foundation for further research, exhibitions, books - and not least for the Girard Accessories Collection, developed in close collaboration with the Girard Studio. Recently, the El Rey Court hotel in Santa Fe decorated its lobby and bar with Vitra's latest Girard accessories.
The Girard Studio is run by the grandchildren Aleishall Girard Maxon and Kori Alexander Girard. They shared their perspectives on the world and work of Alexander Girard with us and described how they manage the incredible legacy of his designs.
Aleishall: The kitchen was magical as well. Our grandmother was a very good cook, and it had been designed as a kind of organized altar to food. The cabinets had these mandala-like collages made from pasta and beans set behind glass. And best of all, there was a cubby in the kitchen where they regularly deposited toys that were just for us — it was always exciting to see what was new.