The Miller House

An Interior by Alexander Girard

Designed by Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard and Dan Kiley in 1953, the Miller Home in Columbus, Indiana was commissioned by J. Irwin Miller and his wife Xenia Simons Miller. A pinnacle of the Modernist tradition, Girard was tasked with designing and curating every aspect of the interior, from the furniture to the silverware. To cover the homes massive windows, Girard designed drapery with patterns specific to each room of the house. For the bedrooms belonging to the three Miller daughters, Girard chose different color variations of his Quarterfoil pattern. To hang in the master bedroom, he selected the Arabesque pattern in a muted palette. In a letter written by Xenia Miller many years later, she explains that new curtains in the same pattern were ordered to replace the originals, offered here, which had hung in the home for 28 years.

The seating area in the master bedroom showing Girard's Arabesque curtains to the right of the fireplace.

Alexander Girard 1907–1993

Born in 1907 in New York to an American mother and French-Italian father, Alexander Girard and his family soon moved to Italy where he was raised in a Florentine villa surrounded by art and antiques. As a boy he filled notebooks with creative design sketches displaying an early attention to detail and interest in other cultures even imaging his own country with regional flags and unique symbolism. Inspiration from international folk art became a staple of his artistic legacy as he amassed thousands of artifacts from around the world. Girard studied architecture in Rome, London and New York as his influential and celebrated career began.

Girard designed and directed the groundbreaking show For Modern Living at the Detroit Institute of Fine Arts in 1949, a predecessor to the Good Design shows hosted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York which he eventually participated in and juried. While living in Michigan in 1952, he was hired by friend and collaborator Charles Eames at Herman Miller eventually establishing the company’s textile division as Director of Design until 1973. In addition to his collections of fabric and wallpaper, his “Environment Enrichment Panels” promoted humanization of the corporate workplace and in 1967 he released the “Girard Group” collection of furniture.

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