What is this?
Printed sample with rows of letters and numbers printed in orange on white.
Why is this important?
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.