Maharam explores Alexander Girard’s creative legacy

Maharam celebrates the world of Alexander Girard through new collections of graphic upholstery fabrics, rugs and wallpapers designed between the 1950s and 1970s, and a short film exploring the American designer's relationship with New Mexico

A section of Alexander Girard’s mural at the First Unitarian Church in Albuquerque
A section of Alexander Girard’s mural at the First Unitarian Church in Albuquerque made from reclaimed barnwood sourced across New Mexico
(Image credit: Press)

The iconic American designer and architect Alexander Girard stands at the heart of a new capsule collection of reissued fabrics from the equally venerable textile house, Maharam. Released as part of its ‘Textiles of the 20th Century’ collection, the six reintroduced designs have been drawn from Girard’s tenure as founding design director of Herman Miller’s textile division, from the years 1952 to 1973, during which he created over 300 designs. Maharam’s eye-catching offering brings together some of the most enduring designs during that period, and will be available in two upholsteries, three wall coverings and one hand-woven rug

Alexander Girard and Maharam’s ‘Textiles of the 20th Century’ collection

Alexander Girard's ‘Mexidot’ collection 

‘Mexidot’ collection 

(Image credit: maharam.com)

Girard’s inspiring ability to hone in on graphic patterns and create unusual combinations is put fully on display in Maharam’s new selection. No stranger to highlighting Girard’s brilliance – the ‘Textiles of the 20th Century’ collection already includes 30 Girard patterns to date – Maharam’s commitment to loyally reproducing these historic designs is matched by an underlying innovative spirit that keeps the design in step with current times. The company has even commissioned a short film for this occasion, highlighting the impact of Santa Fe and the surrounding New Mexico landscape on Girard’s life and work. 

Specifically in the reproduction of ‘Mexidot’ (1963), an upholstery pattern that was originally released as part of a series of handwoven stripes called ‘Mexicotton’, Girard Studio (the entity run by the Girard family to promote and preserve Girard’s legacy) requested that the updated version be produced with reduced environmental impact and accessibility in mind. Maharam Design Studio has used recycled spun yarns to emulate the original look of natural cotton, while ensuring the textile still stands up to contemporary needs for high traffic seating.

Original sample books containing Alexander Girard's upholstery designs

Original sample books containing Herman Miller wallpaper and upholstery designed by Alexander Girard

(Image credit: maharam.com)

Helmed by co-creative directors Alexander Kori Girard and Aleishall Girard Maxon, the designer’s grandchildren, Girard Studio states, ‘Sustainability and material quality have always been important considerations in the work we do with Maharam, but now more than ever we are striving to create products that enhance the built world around us while making minimal impact on the earth. This new collection is especially exciting in its use of postconsumer recycled and renewable materials.’ The three wallpaper designs: ‘Alphabet’ (1952), ‘Roman Stripe’ (1952), and ‘Broken Stripe’ (1952), have been digitally printed on non-PVC substrate, while retaining the warmth, tactility and vibrancy of the originals. 

The collection is a testament to the timelessness of Girard’s aesthetic. ‘Pepitas’ (1952), an upholstery design featuring a pointed ellipsis formed by two intersecting discs of the same radius, which overlap so that the centre of one shape lies on the perimeter of the other, is an example of the staple designs that could be used in multiple applications, from drapery to wallpaper. Even the ‘Millerstripe’ rug, which is based on an upholstery textile designed in 1972 (and reissued by Maharam in 2002), celebrates the power of the universal stripe and is made from a wool twill that depicts the design’s original polychromatic layout at double its original scale.

Alexander Girard's Millerstripe’ rug

(Image credit: maharam.com)

Alexander Girard's Pepitas’ upholstery fabric

Top, ‘Millerstripe’ rug. Above, ‘Pepitas’ upholstery fabric

(Image credit: maharam.com)

‘The great thing about Girard’s designs is that with it all being from one hand, much of it works well together. I like that these designs reflect Girard’s belief that textiles are a fundamental building material for any space,’ says Maharam’s vice-president of design, Mary Murphy. 

A Girard Studio statement concludes: ‘From an aesthetic perspective, we are thrilled to continue building awareness about the diversity in Girard’s vast stable of designs. Classic but unexpected at the same time, these upholsteries, wallcoverings, and rugs offer an understated but still distinctly Girard flavour.’ 

Watch: Alexander Girard and New Mexico

Filmography: Alejandro Durán / Luma Projects

Alexander Girard's ‘Alphabet’ wallpaper

(Image credit: maharam.com)

Alexander Girard's ‘Pepitas’ upholstery fabric

Top, ‘Alphabet’ wallpaper. Above, ‘Pepitas’ upholstery fabric

(Image credit: maharam.com)

INFORMATION

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Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.