Wooden dolls by Vitra are like one happy family – which is your favorite?

Designed by Alexander Girard, the expressive wooden dolls seem to be communicating with each other. Even a couple of dolls made by Vitra can create some spark and color into your interior, or are you going to get them all?

Five wooden dolls by Vitra and two wooden gift boxes
Vitra's wooden dolls are delivered in a high-quality gift box.

A COLLECTION OF wooden figures has been arranged on the table, painted in bright colors and rich expressions. That’s clearly a shy person, and that’s a clown, one has a bow tie, while here’s a smart dresser ruffling up some feathers, and one character is mad with rage, with a red face.

If you’re looking for something more sensitive, maybe you’ll pick a couple standing side by side, or a mother hiding two children under her dress. There are some animal figures, too. Somewhere on the side there’s a mischievous red devil.

Vitra's wooden dolls on a table
The small, playful wooden figures are a delightful addition to your interior decoration.
Vitra's wooden dolls on a wall shelf
Each doll is different, and their expressions reflect a wide range of emotions.

There are more than 20 of the characters, expressing strong emotions. The wooden dolls were designed by Alexander Girard (1907–1993) in the early 1950s for his home in Santa Fe.

Girard was a key reformer of American design in his time. He is best remembered by modern, graphic textiles and as the designer of iconic Mid Century Modern interiors – one example being the interior for the Miller House (1953–1957) designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen in the city of Columbus in the USA.

Alexander Girard and his family in a black and white portrait
Girard's interest in folk art can be seen both in the decoration of the wooden dolls and in this family portrait. Image: Girard Studio, LLC
Original sketches of Girard's wooden dolls
The original sketches of wooden dolls. Image: Girard Studio, LLC
A black and white portrait of Alexander Girard
Alexander Girard was a modernist whose work was always made with color, warmth and humor. Image: Girard Studio, LLC

Alexander Girard grew up in a cosmopolitan North American family. He spent his childhood in Florence, Italy, and studied in England. Girard made his career in the United States, first in New York and Michigan, and from the 1950s onwards in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Although Girard was an architect by training, he made a long career as director of design in the textile division of furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, from 1952 to 1973. He designed more than 300 fabric patters and also carpets, wallpapers, graphics, ceramics, furniture and interiors.

Vitra Wooden doll 10
The wooden dolls are made of solid hand-painted fir.
A group of Vitra's wooden dolls
The dolls represent different personalities and styles, and make fun and memorable gifts.

GIRARD IS KNOWN as a modernist whose work always included color and a touch of warm humor. He was influenced not only by the design world but also handicrafts from various cultures. Girard traveled extensively around the world, collecting with his wife Susan in excess of a staggering 106,000 items of various handicraft in different cultures.

These cultural influences can also be seen in these expressive wooden dolls. Their angular shapes, bright colors and humorous – sometimes eccentric – details have echoes of, for example, Central American, East European and Italian handicraft and folk art traditions.

Girard made the first versions of these wooden dolls in the 1950s for his home. He sawed off the figures from a piece of wood, completing them with hand-painted patterns.

Swiss design company Vitra put the wooden dolls into production posthumously in the 2000s. The expressions on the figures are always unique, as every doll is still hand-painted.

The dolls are like one large and colorful family – can you recognize your personality among them?

More Vitra’s wooden dolls

Wooden doll 3
Wooden doll 5
Wooden doll 11
Wooden dolls, Mother Fish & Child
Wooden doll 12
Wooden doll 22
Wooden doll 17
Wooden doll, Little Devil

See also:

All designs by Alexander Girard >

Text: Anna-Kaisa Huusko Images: Vitra and Girard Studio, LLC

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