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What is this?

Printed sample with rows of letters and numbers printed in orange on white.

Why is this in our collection?

When do graphic design and textile design merge and overlap? The great mid-century designer Alexander Girard is best known for his work as founding director of the Herman Miller Textile Division, a post he held from 1952 through 1973. There, working alongside such design legends as George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, he created a vast range of textiles that complemented and completed the era’s groundbreaking furnishings. Although nubby textures and neutral stripes abound in Girard’s textile oeuvre, his most memorable designs are distinctly graphic in character.
Alphabet, designed in 1960, features a densely packed jumble of randomly sequenced characters. The quirky, blocky text defies reading but functions beautifully as a texture, its forms melding into an overall pattern with a hard-to-find repeat. The design is at once gridded and organic, orderly and irregular. Creating text that you can’t read is the goal of most pattern designs built out of letters. Such designs aim to channel the abstract qualities of type—their lines and curves, their individuality, their family relationships—into fields of graphic marks liberated from the task of direct communication.

This is a sample. It is dated 1960 and we acquired it in 1969. Gift of Alexander H. Girard.

This image is on display This object is currently on display in room 201 as part of How Posters Work.

Its medium is

medium: 100% cotton technique: screen printed on plain weave label: screen printed cotton

Its dimensions are

H x W: 60 x 60 cm (23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in.)

It has the following markings

Herman Miller Textiles paper label attached to lower right corner.

This object was designed by Alexander Hayden Girard and manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Company

This object was donated by Alexander Hayden Girard

A timeline of event horizons

This object has been included in the following exhibitions:

See more stuff from the Textiles department.

Do you have your own photos of this object? Are they online somewhere, like Flickr or Instagram? Or have you created a 3D model of one of our objects in SketchUp or Thingiverse? If so then then tag them with ch:object=18678015 and we will connect ours to yours!

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18678015/ |title=Sample, Alphabet, 1960 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=30 July 2015 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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