A contemporary of Charles and Ray Eames and part of the creative post-war American design scene, Alexander Girard was an architect and textile designer whose handmade Wooden Dolls were inspired by a love of folk art. Alexander Girard was born in New York City and raised in Florence, Italy, where he studied architecture before returning to the US and joining the Herman Miller group in 1952 as their Director of Design in the textiles division.
It was at Herman Miller that Alexander introduced his love of colour to the collection at a time when colour was safe and muted. With an adventurous sense of colour and a love of traditional folk art, toys and miniatures, Alexander designed everything from architecture to furniture and in the early 1960s began making wooden dolls inspired by his growing collection of art from Mexico, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe. By 1962 Girard’s collection of folk art had grown to over 100,000 pieces, and today the collection held at the Museum of International Folk Art in Sante Fe, New Mexico, represents the most comprehensive example of cross-cultural folk art in the world.
Half decorative element, half toy, the Wooden Dolls were originally intended only for personal use. Based on originals found in the Girard Estate held by the Vitra Design Museum, the partly joyful, partly grim-looking company of dolls is now coming out as a charming enhancement to any interior.
The Alexander Girard collection of Wooden Dolls is produced by the Vitra Design Museum and is available from Space Furniture.