I sew because I have to—it is just that simple. After a long day hunched over my computer dealing with the vagaries of English spelling, clumsy syntax and wayward grammar, not to mention computer crashes and arbitrary and demanding clients, I look forward to time spent with my needle and thread, the tactile delight of cloth in my hands and the pleasure of working with color and form—nothing is more life-sustaining and yes, it has to be said, more therapeutic.

Marilyn Neuhart

Marilyn Neuhart and her husband John were well-known and respected graphic designers for over fifty-five years and both worked at the Eames Office from 1957 to 1961 and freelanced for another thirty years. Neuhart began making her dolls the same year she started working for Eames and would give them as gifts to friends and family. In 1959, upon seeing a doll made for Ray Eames, Alexander Girard asked Neuhart to create them in quantity to sell at his Textile & Objects shop, which opened in New York in 1961. In total, Neuhart made about 2,000 of the dolls within a few years, all while working at Eames and teaching at UCLA.  The Neuharts would then go on to create some of the most comprehensive and thoughtful presentations of the history of Eames Office.

We can and I firmly believe we should, preserve evidence of the past, not as a pattern for sentimental imitation but as nourishment for the creative spirit of the present.

Alexander Girard

Textiles & Objects Shop

“Unusual & Sympathetic Decorative Objects, Selected by Alexander Girard”

Alexander Girard’s Textiles & Objects Shop opened in New York City on May 22, 1961, with the financial backing of Herman Miller. The idea for the shop grew out of Girard's and his wife Susan’s fervent collecting of folk art, particularly from South America. Finding themselves with an abundance of inventory, they decided to open a shop and also sell Girard-designed textiles, toys, decorative home goods and the designs of other artists he loved (such as the dolls of Marilyn Neuhart). Despite the passionate vision of the shop, it was a near-immediate financial failure, due largely to a lack of consumer fanfare. Public taste was still very much in line with the conservative 1950s and the radical shifts in American culture hadn’t yet happened. Girard’s designs are enduring in their prescience for the modern, playful, curious spirit that was to come.

These photos were taken by Charles Eames on the day the shop opened. Eames stools, Girard textile panels and pillows, wooden Mexican dolls and Marilyn Neuhart dolls can all be seen on display. The shop was also revolutionary in its design, featuring glass shelving and fabric panels that divided the long, narrow space. 

That is the real mark of discrimination, to be able to see something out of context, to take something because one sees it and wants to see it again. And the proof comes when one does see it again and finds that it looks even better than it did the first time.

Alexander Girard

A Life Lived with Herman Miller

The Collection of Betty Gorecki

Betty Gorecki's husband Richard worked for Herman Miller from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s—a defining era in the company's history, when the designs of Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Alexander Girard changed the look of modern American design. 

Richard Gorecki was a traveling salesman that worked for the interiors department, consulting offices on furnishing their spaces with the adaptable and optimistic furniture and textiles that would become iconic of the era. Betty, a hairstylist who owned a salon, fell in love with the modern designs of Herman Miller and outfitted their home with the colorful and inviting aesthetic (even making custom curtains and pillows out of Girard fabrics). 

Art is only art if it is synonymous with living.

Alexander Girard

Along with classic Herman Miller designs, Betty also decorated her home with items purchased from Girard's Textile & Objects shop, including the delightful handmade dolls of Marilyn Neuhart and folk art from South America. This collection also features Herman Miller Summer Picnic posters by Stephen Frykholm, timeless Nelson and Eames furniture, and Girard works ranging from an important collection of over six hundred fabric samples to his good-humored Environmental Enrichment panels.

Though Betty and Richard divorced in the early 1970s, Betty continued to live with these designs, seamlessly integrating their ease, optimism and resilience into her home and life for over forty years—just as Eames, Nelson and Girard had hoped they would be.

What makes a design unique, original, inventive, imaginative, and compelling? What are those attributes that really make your design really stand out amongst the crowd? I think the dimensionality comes from the person designing it, if that makes any sense. The design has to have presence.

Stephen Frykholm

Marilyn Neuhart

Marilyn Neuhart was born in Long Beach, California. She attended the Long Beach City College and the University of California, Los Angeles, later teaching design at UCLA. In the summer of 1957, Marilyn married John Neuhart, a graphic designer. That same year John was hired to be a freelance designer in the Eames office, and the couple founded their printing company, The Hand Press. While John was working as a freelancer for the Eames, Marilyn began sewing dolls, which were inspired by “Medieval and Renaissance embroidery.” Marilyn stated that when she “became a full-time freelance graphic designer,” she “took up [her] needle in earnest” and began to create.

Ray Eames was taken with Neuhart’s textile art, and she sent one of the dolls that Marilyn created to Alexander Girard in 1959. Girard was so smitten by the pieces he commissioned Marilyn to make 100 of her dolls for the opening of his “Textile and Objects” store in New York in 1961. The dolls were very popular and Neuhart even created DIY kits for her customers to make her works. In 1976, the Neuharts created an exhibit on the Eames studio at the Wright Gallery at UCLA; the show traveled to the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, the University of Texas at Austin, as well as abroad to Britain and France. From 1980 to 1988, Marilyn and her husband were partners in the firm Neuhart Donges Neuhart, which boasted IBM, Herman Miller, and the Getty Museum among its clients. Marilyn and John are the authors of several books on Charles and Ray Eames, including Eames Design, Eames House, and The Story of Eames Furniture. Marilyn continues to work in textiles from her home in Hermosa Beach, California.

Auction Results Marilyn Neuhart