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Upholstery, aluminum legs and supports
The Mary Spedding Milliken Memorial Fund 2006.117
This armchair and ottoman were designed for the Braniff International Airways departure lounges and corporate offices around 1967, ushering in a new emphasis on comfort and cheerful color both on the ground and in the skies.
Alexander Girard was one of the most prolific and influential industrial designers of the 20th century, yet his work failed to convince a wider public that modernism could be cheerful and functional at the same time. Instead, his designs were admired largely by architects and other designers for the cutting-edge palette and expansive, unusual forms but largely dismissed by critics and consumers as too wild for words, which made him the perfect tastemaker for an up and coming airline, Braniff International Airways, at the dawn of the jet age. His work for Braniff in the late 1960s, of which this armchair and ottoman are a product, was nothing short of revolutionary. From the airplanes on the tarmac to the matchbooks in the lounges, Girard transformed the look into one of comfort and color. As he said, it was the end of the "plain plane." He created over 17,000 designs for Braniff, a company that wanted to stand out in a fast-changing industry, but his line of furniture based on those designs for Herman Miller only sold for a year in 1967, a veritable flop in the stores. Such was the commercial fate of bold taste and expressive design in a decade of immense social and political upheaval.
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