Maharam continues to expand its Textiles of the 20th Century™ series with the introduction of Fruit Tree and Minicheck by Alexander Girard, in addition to newly reissued archival colors of Checker.
Believing that “fabrics are a building material” and “as much a part of a room as are the conventional materials of brick, glass, wood, and plaster,” Girard envisioned the textile program as a flexible toolkit, offering endless variation through combination and use. Unhampered by contemporary dictums of style and taste, he designed over 300 textiles—along with several collections of wallpaper, prints, wall hangings, furniture, and objects—from his outpost in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The resulting body of work is not only staggering in its sheer volume and creativity, but remains relevant today due to the fundamental qualities of beauty and usefulness.
Introduced in 1952, Minicheck was included in Girard’s seminal, almost entirely geometric collection for Herman Miller, where he was the textile division’s design director from its formation in 1952 until 1973. Although it was originally offered in multiple colorways, Maharam’s re-edition of Minicheck focuses on the optical pleasure of classic black-and-white.
Driven by a desire to create “staples”, Girard often gravitated towards the timeless quality of simple geometric forms. To him, a square was “like a basic raw material—like a tube of paint.” Girard revisited the classic checkerboard pattern of Minicheck in a larger scale for the exhaustive 1965 redesign of Braniff Airlines. Reissued by Maharam in 2001, Checker’s palette is being refreshed through the addition of four original colors based on swatches from Herman Miller’s archive. While retaining essential black and brown checks, low-contrast but high-saturation combinations are being added in addition to a complementary pairing of pink and emerald green. Girard’s decision to approach color not as a decorative afterthought but as an essential part of the composition is evident in his choices to enhance or mute color through similar or dissimilar warp-and-weft combinations in this sturdy double-weave construction.
Revealing a concord between the geometric and the organic, Fruit Tree is a playful pattern of free-floating ovals and squares anchored by a curvilinear arboreal motif. Originally designed as a screen-printed linen drapery in 1961, Maharam is reintroducing Fruit Tree as a printed wallcovering in two colorways.
Trained as an architect but proficient in nearly all design disciplines, Alexander Girard (1907-1993) had a profound impact on 20th century visual culture. In addition to his prolific output at Herman Miller, Girard is noted for his all-encompassing design work for the Good Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1954), La Fonda del Sol restaurant in New York City’s Time Life building (1960), and the redesign of every aesthetic aspect of Braniff Airlines (1965). An avid collector of folk art, Girard donated roughly 106,000 pieces to the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, where he designed the permanent exhibition, Multiple Visions: A Common Bond.
Maharam has re-issued a total of seventeen Girard patterns to date as part of the Textiles of the 20th Century™ series. Dedicated to faithfully reissuing the textiles of great multidisciplinary designers of the past, the series also includes the work of Anni Albers, Charles and Ray Eames, Josef Hoffman, George Nelson, Verner Panton, and Gio Ponti, among others.