Trained as an architect, but proficient in all manner of activities, Alexander Girard was introduced to Herman Miller through Charles Eames and George Nelson, established the Herman Miller Textile Division in 1952, and served as its Director of Design until 1973. From his outpost in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he designed over 300 textiles in multitudes of colorways, multiple collections of wallpaper, decorative prints and wall hangings, an expansive group of furniture, and both decorative and useful objects. His passion for international folk art led him around the globe as he amassed a collection of roughly 106,000 pieces, and his many corporate and freelance assignments-including the La Fonda Del Sol restaurant and the total design program for Braniff International-engendered lavish praise for his diverse skills and unique vision.
With a resolute and reserved personality, Girard believed quality should speak for itself-and he did much to propagate the notion that life should be lived with a higher regard for the humanity of one’s surroundings. His uncommon way of seeing and admirably undogmatic approach to each new solution resulted in an unparalleled body of work that is not only staggering in sheer volume and creativity, but due to its fundamental qualities of beauty and usefulness, remains completely relevant today. In 1972, Girard developed 40 decorative silkscreen designs to add an element of “aesthetic functionalism” to corporate environments. Unlike his printed textiles, the panels consist of single, stand-alone images that range from abstract patterns to figurative pictograms. Herman Miller is pleased to make 12 of these designs available once again.
Walking through the 2,000-square-foot showcase, traces of world cultures soon become evident. Girard did not wish to break all ties with the past, but was able to pull together disparate elements-popular culture, non art, folk motifs-and re-synthesize them with harmony and humor. “In the ideology of his work, Girard was about taking the entirety of history but in execution, he was one of those designers who followed nobody’s rules. And because of his skill level, his eye, things looked amazing. Girard could combine 18 fonts on one poster and it looked incredible. He could hand draw entire alphabet in mixed case letters and somehow it all fit together,” says Grawe.
Alexander Girard: An Uncommon Vision, May 17 – May 28, 2014, New York, Sponsored by Herman Miller Collection, Maharam
This 1960’s Hugh Kaptur ranch house was in quite a state of disrepair when it was purchased as a foreclosure. It had been “remuddled” several times, featuring electrical wiring run on the outside of walls, awkward closets added in every room, and poor design choices highlighted throughout. It was stripped of all finishes and some minor layout work was implemented. It was restored to its mid-century glory with modern, but period-appropriate, finishes and materials. Furnishings are a mix of vintage and new, mostly sourced from eBay and local Palm Springs vintage boutiques. It’s intended use as a vacation home provided some extra latitude for whimsy and use of color. The original architect came to view the home at the end of the project and was highly complimentary.
Richard Pare’s fascination with modernist architecture shines through his vast collection of images taken over several decades. Living Laboratory will illustrate how he photographs buildings, taking care to reveal both their many subtleties and magnificent monumentality. Pare’s perceptive point of view brings into play dramatic use of light, (always achieved with no supplemental lighting) as well as varied weather conditions and seasons.
To achieve his images he deploys a wide range of technical approaches, combining conventional film and a view camera with the latest advances in digital image making. These state-of-the-art aspects of his work serve to highlight the majesty of his subjects without in any way overwhelming the purposes of the undertaking. He is also attentive to the effects of the passage of time and changing social conditions on the works he chooses to portray. The absence of human beings, coupled with signs of wear and decay, including creeping vegetation and the lingering evidence of past eras, emphasise the impermanence of seemingly solid structures and their struggle for survival.
While Pare’s work covers many subjects, Living Laboratory reveals his admiration for Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov, two of the finest and earliest proponents of modernist principles in architecture.
Living Laboratory: Richard Pare on Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov, March 21 – May 11, 2014, PM Gallery & House, London, United Kingdom
Photography by Richard Pare
Italian architect and illustrator Federico Babina has recently unveiled a new project, this time taking a look at the connection between architecture and the visual arts. Titled ‘Archist’, the project comprises a series of illustrations of imaginary buildings inspired by famous works of art. Beginning with the question: what would a house designed by Dalí or a museum by Miró look like, the resulting images demonstrate what Federico Babina believes is the ”implicit partnership between Architecture and Art.” They sometimes treat the facade as a canvas decorated with a well-known piece of art, while in other cases, they draw inspiration from the artist’s overall output to create an inventive architectural composition. Quite interestingly, and probably unbeknownst to the artist himself, the project also shows how the visual arts world is just as male-dominated as the world of architecture, as only two women (Jeanne-Claude – Christo’s partner – and Anne Truitt) made it onto Babina’s list of 27 ”most popular artists.”
List of artists: Keith Haring, Sol LeWitt, Anish Kapoor, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Joan Miró, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Piet Mondrian, Ernesto Neto, Ellsworth Kelly, Josef Albers, Antoni Tàpies, James Turell, Frank Stella, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Anne Truitt, Lucio Fontana, Tony Smith, Peter Halley, Kazimir Málevich.
Over the course of… four years, George Nelson, along with his associate Gordon Chadwick, would execute a highly personalized design-a home tailored to the members and lifestyle of the Kirkpatrick family. This itself is not remarkable-it could be said of any architectural commission. What makes the Kirkpatrick House so special-then and now-are the universal qualities that transcend the specifics.
The best Nelson designs, be it a clock, chair, or in this case, home, share that same elusive trait. His view of design allowed for both modular system and mannerist quirk. As an “architect in industry” (as he categorized himself in the introduction to the 1948 Herman Miller Collection catalogue), Nelson was responsible for creating-and making salable-consumer goods. In the Kirkpatrick House, it becomes clear that this mentality affected his practice of architecture in equal measure. A product had to be unique to stand out in the market, but it also had to appeal to a wide array of people to be successful. Even in the execution of this private home for personal friends, Nelson’s brand of modernism embraces this duality fully.
Kirkpatrick House, Kalamazoo, Michigan, by George Nelson, Gordon Chadwick
via: Herman Miller
Charlotte Perriand is regarded as one of the most influential designers of the early modern movement, acknowledging the increasingly machine-driven culture of the 1920s and ’30s and introducing the profound change in aesthetic values to interiors. As a true pioneer in the application of materials like steel, aluminium and glass to furniture, the french architect and designer established an expansive breadth of work that, to this day, remains the archetype of an evolutionary shift in the industry. When she was just 24-years-old, she commenced a decade-long collaboration with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, during which period the trio conceived and developed a series of tubular steel chairs, existing now as icons of an era. The work of Perriand will be a significant presence at Design Miami/ Art Basel Miami 2013 with presentations at the Raleigh Hotel, the Louis Vuitton Boutique and the Cassina showroom.
The Groninger Museum presents the first large-scale solo exhibition of the work of Jaime Hayon (Madrid, 1974). Hayon is one of the most acclaimed designers of his generation. His work consists of autonomous and applied projects, across various disciplines such as ceramics, wood, glass, textiles, product, furniture and interior design. This exhibition is a reflection of the past ten years, a period of intense creativity and growth, in which Hayon has increasingly developed his autonomous work.
Hayon was educated as an industrial designer in Madrid and Paris, and subsequently joined Fabrica, the communications research centre of the Italian clothing label Benetton, in 1997. Within a relatively short time he rose from being a simple student to head of department. In 2000, he started up his own company and made his debut in the art design world with the ceramic work Mediterranean Digital Baroque. The Groninger Museum has been following Jaime Hayon for quite some time. In 2009, the Museum purchased two large installations (Mediterranean Digital Baroque and Mon Cirque) and in 2010 he designed the Museum’s new information centre. With commissions from all over the world and a host of renowned clients, Hayon is regarded as one of the most influential young designers of the present day. The exhibition includes the installations Mediterranean Digital Baroque and Mon Cirque as well as the now iconic Green Chicken and commissioned works for clients such as Baccarat and Lladro. American Chateau, the collaborative project he made with his partner artist, Nienke Klunder, is also featured in the exhibition.
A remarkable element of the exhibition is The Tournament: a unique work that consists of a life-size chess set made of turned wood and hand-painted ceramics, which the Groninger Museum managed to purchase recently. Hayon created this work in 2009, having been commissioned by the Design Festival London to do so; the work was inspired by the Battle of Trafalgar. This is the Dutch première of the artwork. The intention is to organize chess games at specified times. Jaime Hayon’s work issues from an irresistible urge to create his own world. It occupies a central position between autonomous art and design, where amusing, fantastic and narrative elements are combined with a keen eye for detail and finishing. His signature is characterized by a stylized input in which diverse styles blend together. Making use of all these other elements, Hayon translates craftsmanship and traditional techniques into emotionally influential objects and interiors that invite the viewer to be a part of them.
Jaime Hayon: Funtastico, October 13, 2013 – March 30, 2014, at Groninger Museum, Netherlands, Photography © klunderbie, Jaime Hayon
Dutch designer Richard Hutten has been invited to guest curate the interior of the Sonneveld House by altering the original layout with his own product designs.
The Sonneveld House Museum stands adjacent to the NAI on the corner of Jongkindstraat and Rochussenstraat in Rotterdam. Built in the early nineteen thirties, it is one of the best-preserved houses in the Nieuwe Bouwen style, the Dutch branch of the International School of Modernism. It was designed by the architecture firm of Brinkman & Van der Vlugt, also known for the Van Nelle Factory and Feyenoord Stadium. The Sonneveld House opened to the public as a house museum of the NAI in March 2001, following a period of intensive restoration and refurbishment. As a visitor, you can see for yourself what it was like to live in a hypermodern home in 1933.
For the 50th anniversary of Hans J. Wegner’s Shell Chair, manufacturer Carl Hansen & Son has teamed up with textile brand Maharam to release 20 special versions of Wegner’s iconic design.
The Shell Chair has long been viewed as one of Hans J. Wegner’s strongest designs. It first saw the light of day in 1963, but it took 35 years before it enjoyed its popular breakthrough and received numerous design awards. Through its unique silhouette and superior comfort, Wegner demonstrated that he had truly achieved what he had set out to do: create the ideal shell chair.
Carl Hansen & Son: The Maharam Shell Chair Project
Gerald Griffith at work in his studio:
Wright has offered at auction several original drawings of the Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe.
When Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair was introduced in 1929 it was critically acclaimed but the cost and difficulty of chrome plating the frames limited production. By the early 1950s technology had caught up to Mies van der Rohe’s progressive furniture designs and both Knoll Associates and Gerald Griffith were producing his forms. Chairs produced by Knoll and Gerald Griffith can be distinguished by looking at the intersection of the base; works made by Gerald Griffith feature a crisp hard-edged intersection while versions by Knoll have a reinforced curved intersection.
The Mies van der Rohe office found Gerald Griffith in 1949. The challenge of creating the Barcelona chair in stainless steel – something engineers said could not be done – appealed to Griffith’s tenacious personality. After much experimentation and exploration, Griffith completed the task and he produced Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona and Tugendhat designs in stainless steel for a number of years.
Provenance: The Office of Mies van der Rohe, Chicago | Edward A. Duckett, Bowling Green | David Bryant, Bowling Green In celebration of Mies van der Rohe’s 125th birthday, Wright’s senior specialist Michael Jefferson presented the history of the Barcelona chair to The Mies van der Rohe Society.
Blueprint and Elevation of the Barcelona chair, 1950, Auction at Wright