Alexander Girard’s famous collection of wooden sculptures are known as inspirational pieces the world over, owing to their vibrant colours and whimsical design. We delve into the world of Swiss fashion house Akris and discover how their SS18 collection was shaped by Girard’s statement use of prints and colour.
A leading figure of post-war American design, Alexander Girard worked closely with celebrated designers such as George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames to leave an enduring stamp on the design world.
Despite originally training as an artist, Girard was a fan of tessellating patterns in a wide range of bold colour compositions and is most renowned for his epic contribution to textile design. Creating innovative, geometric designs, his fabrics prove equally popular today, with Vitra utilising his upholstery fabrics across its ranges.
An avid collector of folk art and artefacts from around the world, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe in particular, Alexander Girard’s designs were constantly inspired by his collection of over 160,000 artefacts.
In fact, it is this extensive collection of folk art that inspired Girard to design a vast family of decorative Wooden Dolls to adorn the shelves of his Santa Fe home.
The dolls, having been transferred to the Vitra Design Museum alongside other pieces from the Girard estate, have since been replicated by Vitra so that they can be appreciated by a wide audience across the world.
Quirky and whimsical, each doll is beautifully crafted from solid wood and intricately hand painted with expressive features for a vibrant finish. Toys as much as they are decorative objects, each playful member of the Wooden Doll family lends a certain charm to the room.
It is these wooden dolls, and their place in the Vitra Museum’s Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe exhibition, that acted as a catalyst for Swiss fashion house Akris’ SS18 collection.
Frequently visiting the exhibition, Albert Kriemler, Akris’ Creative Director, was struck by Girard’s creative genius. Spurred on by Girard’s ability to see “things differently [and] change our view of the world”, Kriemler created a vibrant collection in ode to the designer.
Showcasing its SS18 looks on a catwalk at the Vitra Campus Fire Station, the Akris runway was awash with tributes to the celebrated designer. Flanked by oversized reproductions of the Wooden Dolls, the models wore dresses adorned with the famous dolls, trinkets adapted from toys Girard carved by his own hand and bags inspired by his heart-shaped patterns.
Full of vibrant hues and patterns reminiscent of Girard’s most iconic design pieces, the collection created the perfect contrast with the stark concrete walls and floors of the Zaha Hadid-designed building. The first complex that Hadid designed, the Fire Station was originally built to combat potential fires on the Vitra Campus. Now acting as an exhibition space for the Vitra Design Museum, the Fire Station was the ideal canvas for the colourful catwalk.
‘Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe’ will be on display at the Berkeley Art Museum in California until 9th August 2018.