Alexander Girard's work brought a sensuous playfulness to twentieth-century design that had been absent from the austere aesthetic of classic modernism. This also finds expression in the Ceramic Containers. The three original models were made of wood, hand-turned by Girard on a lathe in his workshop. Their silhouettes are reminiscent of the traditional shapes of apothecary vessels, board game tokens or millinery blocks.
The original wooden objects are held in the Girard Archive at the Vitra Design Museum. Using these models as templates, Vitra joined together with the Girard family to develop the Ceramic Containers in cast ceramic. The hand-glazed pieces feature hues from Girard's rich colour palette and can be used to store odds and ends, keys, coins or other items. The natural material lends the Ceramic Containers an artisanal flair.
Along with his colleagues Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson, the designer and architect Alexander Girard was one of the leading figures in American design during the post-war era. While textile design was the primary focus of Girard's oeuvre, he was also admired for his graphic art as well as his work in furniture, exhibition and interior design.
The primary focus of his wide-ranging oeuvre was textile design. Girard created numerous fabrics for the Herman Miller Company, favouring abstract forms and geometric patterns in a wide variety of colour compositions. Many of his upholstery fabrics remain as timely and vital as ever and are still manufactured and utilised by Vitra today.
Having originally studied architecture, Girard made a name for himself over his long career in the fields of furniture, exhibition, interior and graphic design. Moreover, he was one of the world's most important collectors of folk art. The objects and textiles acquired by Girard on his extensive travels provided him with a rich source of inspiration and ideas. When Rolf Fehlbaum, the son of Vitra's founding family, first visited Alexander Girard and his wife Susan at their Santa Fe home in 1960, Fehlbaum wrote a letter to his parents telling of the deep impression it had made on him, and describing it as the most fascinating house he had ever seen in the United States.
Vitra and the Vitra Design Museum have devoted themselves to the reappraisal and revival of Alexander Girard's work over the past several years. The growing Girard collection in Vitra's product portfolio includes his painted Wooden Dolls, the Environmental Enrichment Panels and various furniture pieces and objects, along with his distinctive fabric designs.
After Alexander Girard's death in 1993, his heirs donated the Girard archive (comprising hundreds of drawings, prototypes and samples) to the Vitra Design Museum. In 2016/17, the museum mounted the exhibition 'Alexander Girard: A Designer's Universe'.