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Monday, October 10, 2011

Alexander Girard

Alexander "Sandro" Girard (1907-1993) was an architect and textile designer born in New York City and raised in Florence, Italy. He studied at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London and at the Royal School of Architecture in Rome but came back to the United States to live and work.

In 1932 he opened his first architectural and interior design office in New York City. In 1937 he moved to Detroit and opened an office there. In 1949 he put together the "For Modern Living" show at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

In 1952 he was recruited by Charles Eames to be the director of design for the Herman Miller textile division. He held that position till 1973, during which time he created over 300 fabric and wallpaper designs.

In 1959 Girard designed the interior for the La Fonda del Sol restaurant in New York City's Time Life Building. The design featured dozens of stylized sun faces in vibrant colors, on everything from menus to tablecloths to the paper wrappers for the sugar cubes. Recently, Flor, manufacturer of modular floor coverings, released a collection featuring Girard's colorful suns.

In 1961 he opened the Textiles & Objects store in New York City. The store sold folk art that Girard had brought back from his travels around the world, as well as products made from his textiles and small furniture made by other Herman Miller designers. (Post to come about T&O dolls by Marilyn Neuhart.)

Girard was hired in 1965 to create a new corporate brand for Braniff Airlines, a project which consisted of 17,543 modifications, including changes to plane interiors, logos, stationery, condiment packages, dishes, blankets and playing cards. In 1967 Herman Miller released a small line of seating based on Girard's work for Braniff.

In the early 1960s Girard and his wife Susan moved to New Mexico, where they built one of the world's largest collections of folk art. Today the collection of over 100,000 pieces can be found in the Girard Wing of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe.


Coffee table for Knoll

Quatrefoil fabric

La Fonda chair

Girard suns

Braniff sofa

Braniff chairs

Braniff dove pin

Braniff playing card

Braniff planes in Girard colors

Braniff airplane interior and sugar packet

Side table

Coffee table


  1. The Braniff designs are groovy. Saw a piece on them years ago and their collection of folk art. It was amazing... and sometimes kind a creepy... which isn't a bad thing to say about anyone, IMHO.

  2. @DearHelenHartman: If not creepy, then at the very least a little obsessive...which isn't always bad either. I think he left something like 106,000 pieces of folk art to the museum. I can't imagine collecting that much of ANYTHING.

  3. I can't help thinking that with the price of airfare and the hassle that it is to fly the least the air companies could do is have designer airplane interiors. It would be so much more cheerful to fly in one of those Braniff seats!

  4. @monogirl: It's a shame we've gone from a society that liked to do things well to a society that tries to do things as cheaply as possible. Who will ever forget Braniff's branding by Girard and uniforms by Pucci? Of course, I suppose the airlines today would point out that Braniff went belly-up.

  5. Dana! I was in the store and told Joe to suggest Mr. Girard as a blog topic. I LOOOOOVE this blog entry! Girard was so amazing in his own right and in his collaborations with other MCM visionaries. Thank you SO MUCH for this awesome blog entry!

  6. @Angelica: I thought you'd like this post! I was thinking about your Braniff collection when I wrote it. :) While researching for the post, I became fascinated with Girard's Textiles & Objects store and the dolls that Marilyn Neuhart made for the store. She's the author who just wrote the huge, 2-volume book about the Eames Office.