Design Icon

Design Icon: Alexander Girard Alphabet Wallpaper

by Maxwell Tielman

Design*Sponge | Design Icon: Alexander Girard Wallpaper. Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg
Design: Alphabet Pattern Wallpaper

Designer: Alexander Girard

Date: 1952

Country of Origin: United States

Manufacturer: Originally produced by Herman Miller. Today produced by Maharam.

Materials: Cellulose and latex with a polyester/cotton backing

Background: As a designer working in the mid-twentieth century, Alexander Girard had the distinction of being a traditionalist, a trailblazer and an iconoclast all at once. Employed as the textile designer for the esteemed furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, Girard’s name and designs are often woven into the narrative thread of Modernism, but his work tends to extend past and even defy many of the movement’s core tenets. A firm believer that any material or form could be beautiful if used properly, Girard looked to infinite, disparate sources for inspiration, culling his aesthetic from folk art, craft traditions, foreign cultures and his own imagination. While the polemicists and theoreticians of Modernism typically called for objective, universal forms, Girard’s creative output was deeply rooted in emotion, oftentimes playful with an infectious sense of humor and delight. Applied to furnishings and interiors, Girard’s pattern work had the ability to lift a space and make it approachable and human. This particular pattern, developed as a wall covering for Herman Miller in 1952, played with these sensibilities, melding modern lines, bright color and an almost childlike sense of wonder.

This post is brought to you by Herman Miller Store. See their new home and office accessories line featuring archival re-editions and new designs here.

In May, Herman Miller and Maharam will celebrate Girard’s unique contribution to design with a special exhibit and installation. Alexander Girard: An Uncommon Vision will be open to the public May 17–28 at 446 West 14th Street, in New York City.


Enter the Design*Sponge + Herman Miller Eames Molded Shell Chair giveaway here for a chance to win the iconic chair. Giveaway ends May 2nd, 2014. Limited to U.S. residents only.


Suggested For You


  • Maybe I missed it, was it just a fluke there was no weekly wrap up last week? I LOVE those posts! (I also love these, but I was just curious). :)