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Friday Focus - Vitra Girard Dolls

One of the defining characteristics of the 21st Century office is its playfulness. This usually manifests itself in playful design elements, most notably the almost clichéd use of things like ping pong tables and slides in the offices of creative and tech firms but also in the use of quirky features and finishes to denote an aspect of humanity that the grey strictures of corporate life can often deny. Some might sneer, but playfulness is an acknowledgement of the whole person and not just the drone. Play brings joy and is vital for problem solving, creativity and the development of relationships.

Adding playful elements to a workplace is nothing new of course. Even something as well known and cold as a Newton's cradle betrays the human urge to play and allow the mind to drift from solely commercial issues.

Some things even straddle the line between toy and art. One of the best known of these is the collection of dolls designed by the American designer Alexander Girard for his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 1950s and 60s. Girard is perhaps best known for his textile designs, especially because so many of them are associated with the iconic work of George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames. In both the design of his textiles and dolls, Girard expresses his love of folk art, especially that of Eastern Europe, South America and Africa.

Although he'd made them initially for his own pleasure, he soon found that they appealed to other people and began production to meet the growing demand. Some of the original dolls are now on display in the Vitra Design Museum and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, where Girard has a collection named in his honour. They continue to be sold to this day, a testament not only to the timeless appeal of classic design but also the enduring need for people to surround themselves with playful elements.

To find out more about the Vitra Girard Dolls please click here.
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