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Alexander Girard + House Industries: A Quick Trip to Detroit for Art Exhibitions

September 5, 2017

My husband and I took advantage of the holiday weekend to take a quick trip to Detroit. What an awesome city! Since we only had two and half days, we crammed as much in as possible. Here are some of the highlights as we tracked iconic designer Alexander Girard—from a retrospective of his work to an exhibit about a type foundry inspired by his work.

We visited Cranbrook Art Museum's Alexander Girard: Designer’s Universe, a "career retrospective of Alexander Girard (1907–1993), one of the most influential designers of the twentieth century. Girard worked across the fields of architecture, interior design, textiles, and graphics to create stunning environments that greatly enriched the visual language of mid-century modernism. Girard returned color, texture, decoration, the handmade and even opulence to classic modernism, making him an important touchstone for today’s artists and designers. ...He collaborated with many designers and architects such as Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, and George Nelson, among others."
 

While there, we also visited the Saarinen House. "Saarinen House is Eliel Saarinen’s Art Deco masterwork and the jewel of Cranbrook’s architectural treasures. Designed in the late 1920s and located at the heart of Cranbrook Academy of Art, from 1930 through 1950 Saarinen House served as the home and studio of the Finnish-American designer Eliel Saarinen—Cranbrook’s first resident architect and the Art Academy’s first president and head of the Architecture Department—and Loja Saarinen—the Academy’s first head of the Weaving Department. The extraordinary interior, now impeccably restored, features the Saarinens’ original furnishings, including Eliel’s delicately veneered furniture and Loja’s sumptuous textiles, as well as early furniture designs by their son, Eero Saarinen."
 

Finally, we visited the Henry Ford Museum where I was thrilled to see House Industries: A Type of Learning. House Industries is a type foundry that created the Girard Script font which is based on the handwriting of Alexander Girard. Nearly 10 years ago, I selected Girard Script as the typeface for my Survival By Design Cards and I have been a fan of House Industries since then. "The exhibit shows how childhood interests in drawing led to creating fonts that help the world communicate; how hot-rodding and punk rock influences reinforced a hands-on approach to problem-solving; and how personal interests can inspire innovation. Significant historical artifacts — including hot-rodder Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s futuristic Mysterion show car, revolutionary furniture by Charles and Ray Eames and an original Apple 1 computer — pair with House Industries’ design work to demonstrate how different objects and experiences can pave the way for anyone’s creative path."
 

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