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

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