While the Miller House was completed in 1957, Alexander Girard continued to work on projects for the Millers well into the 1970s. In 1974, Mrs. Miller tasked Girard with designing cushions for their Tulip dining chairs. She requested that Girard’s designs for the cushions work with her large collection of dinnerware and he delivered the colorful results seen above.
For the eight cushions that sat in chairs around the table, Girard utilized the Miller family monograms for his designs. Composed of sans serif letters that appear out of an otherwise unruly checkered pattern, the monograms are for the following Miller family members:
JIM - Joseph Irwin Miller
XSM - Xenia Simons Miller
MIM - Margaret Irwin Miller
CGM - Catherine Gibbs Miller
EGM - Elizabeth Anne Garr Miller
HTHM - Hugh Thomas Miller II
WIM - Will Irwin Miller
LAM - Linda A. Miller (Former wife of son, Hugh Th. Miller)
The dining room side chairs featured cushions with multicolored allover check, the pattern for which we shared a few months back and can be partially seen in the bottom photo by Balthazar Korab.
While Girard executed the design, Mrs. Miller and her bridge group carried out the needlepoint work. In order to complete this task, Girard created patterns by affixing individual squares of colored construction paper to a grid shaped to the chair bottoms. The first eight images are digital scans of these patterns. Girard sent a handwritten note with the patterns that read “Suggest you look at these, in position, by placing them in the chair.” Along with the patterns, he also sent the color palate and samples of yarn to be used for the project.
Needlepoint cushion chair patterns, painted color palette and yarn samples by Alexander Girard. FF061, Miller House and Garden Collection, IMA Archives, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana. (MHG_IIIc_FF061_001-009, 015, 017)