Colour and Shape
Rapha and Herman Miller caps toast the terrain of South Australia
To the cyclist, notably the tiring one, landscape melts into simple pattern, texture, and shape. Fitting, then, that Rapha has again partnered with Herman Miller on a limited line of caps that celebrate the distinct regions and riding of South Australia via the textiles of Mid-Century icon Alexander Girard.
From the grid layout of Adelaide’s wide boulevards and public squares to the arid plains of the Flinders Ranges that sketch the harsh, empty beauty of the Outback, riding through South Australia offers a sweep of landscape and color. Rapha focused on five regions in South Australia that are both significant in the region and indicative of the whole of the country, and paired those with textiles from Herman Miller and Girard to cast graphic interpretations of Adelaide, Barossa Valley, the Limestone Coast, Kangaroo Island, and the Flinders Ranges.
Amy Auscherman, Herman Miller’s corporate archivist, mined the company’s archives to come up with samples that matched the colors or concepts Rapha’s designers wanted to work with for each region: the dry grey of the Limestone Coast, the redness of the sky across the dessert of the Flinders Ranges, the rolling green hills and order of the vineyards of Barossa Valley. “Girard was prolific. He designed more than 300 textiles in a multitude of colorways — I had a lot to choose from,” Auscherman said.
The constraints came in the size of the caps. Girard’s work was intended to display as drapery or upholstery — a great pattern on a far greater scale than a cycling cap. Some graphic translation had to be done to keep the feel intact. In one instance, the Girard Studio digitized a vast sample of the pattern “Cutouts” so that irregularities and the “happy accidents” of large-scale silkscreen were able to come through.
“I love the idea of landscapes and a sense of place coming through in a textile. I think it embodies so much of Girard’s spirit. He was inspired by his travels and the folk art and objects he collected,” said Emily CM Anderson, an art director at Herman Miller. “I can never pick a favorite with Girard. His textiles embody so many different emotions and qualities—from calm and subtle textures to exuberant graphic patterns—and there are just so many to choose from. There’s a favorite for every feeling.”
A trained architect, there’s a careful, studied whimsical feeling in the designer’s work. Girard’s patterns maintain contemporary visual and cultural relevance because the symbols and art he drew from were generations old when he dusted them off; from the Navajo rugs to the African textiles, his simple and streamlined versions of visual iconography don’t age. “He was looking for those things that were relevant for generations and times much past him, and he added his own two cents to them,” noted Kori Girard, who co-directs Girard Studio with Aleishall Girard Maxon.
The two are grandchildren of the designer (and multi-faceted artists themselves) who steward the Girard legacy and collection of work. “We’re excited to bring these designs, relevant to the contemporary landscape, and find use for them,” Girard Maxon said. “The work makes it easy because it is so approachable, and so human. It’s easy to look through it all and pull things out that feel totally fresh in 2018.”