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«Sansusi»

The Double Heart

‘Sansusi’ is the name Alexander Girard gave to the double heart symbol that showed up in his work time and again throughout his career. The symbol itself is composed of two intersecting S’s that form a continuous loop of mirrored hearts, each S representing the first letter of the pet names Girard and his wife had for one another, Sandro and Susie. An anecdote written by Aleishall Girard Maxon.

Executed as colour-saturated embroidery on linen, silkscreened as a sophisticated but playful repeat for a textile, or enlarged to nearly five feet tall in his series of Environmental Enrichment Panels, this symbol of endless love was one for which Girard had an obvious affinity. Its use on commercial projects was far transcended by the inclusion of the motif on personal gifts created by Girard for his wife Susan: a gold pendant, a collage, an engraved silver coffee carafe, the brass handles on a special chest of drawers, graphic designs for each anniversary, gift boxes with painted tops, the signature on every note. Whatever the occasion, Girard found a way to work the symbol into the chronicle of their life together.

Alexander Girard met Susan Needham through his sister Lezlie when they were both in their early twenties. She was immediately intrigued by her friend’s quiet, quirky brother who had recently arrived in New York City from Florence, Italy. Before long they had begun a courtship, and even these early encounters offered an occasion for sweet notes left behind for Susan and signed with the ‘Sansusi’ symbol. Theirs was a deep and abiding love that was reinforced by their mutual respect for one another. Though Susan was not formally trained in design, her eye was sharp and her taste refined. Girard trusted her opinion implicitly, and she quickly became an integral part of his career. Together they travelled, collected folk art and composed captivating interior landscapes for their homes.

Over the course of their life together, the Girards would find their beloved symbol in many forms around the world, collecting each as they went: an Indian brass trivet, an English gold and diamond pave pin, iron work in Mexico. Taking ancient motifs and incorporating them into his work, reinterpreting or distilling their forms to be at once classic and contemporary, was a hallmark of Girard’s oeuvre. This gift lent itself to a body of work that remains relevant even decades after its creation. The ‘Sansusi’ motif is timeless – not only in regard to its composition and inherent romance, but also as a message of infinite love that is now more significant than ever.


Publication date: 8.2.2018
Author: Aleishall Maxon Girard
Images: Studio Girard, LLC