Go Behind the Most Famous Front Doors in Woodside

  • Backyard


  • Textiles by Alexander Girard

    Textiles by Alexander Girard

  • Alexander Girard Doors

    Alexander Girard Doors

From the moment you see the front doors on this Woodside, CA, home (which was sold in August for $7.4 million), it's clear they are pieces of art that transcend the simple act of entering or exiting.

Hand-painted in geometric shapes and vibrant hues of red, blue, and white, the eye-popping visual jumps from the modernist wood-and-glass structure that otherwise blends into the natural surroundings of the woodsy lot.

The doors, and everything else in the house, were custom-made for Robert Scoren, who commissioned Mid-Century Modern master Don Knorr and interior designer Alexander Girard to concoct his jaw-dropping dream home, which was completed in 1969.

"Those doors were made personally by Alexander Girard as his friend," listing agent David Kelsey says, who adds that Scoren "was very friendly with a lot of notable artists."

The artistry continues through the entry into a truly one-of-a-kind residence. The original interior design is evident in almost every room of the house, from furniture, to textiles and paint colors.

The doors were created by graphics guru Girard, who may be the most famous designer you've never heard of.

Girard, who died in 1993, collaborated with such notable Mid-Century Modern designers as Charles and Ray Eames, and George Nelson, and created original textiles for the Herman Miller furniture store. Jonathan Adler, the famed decorator with his line of eponymous decor stores, counts Girard as one of his top influences.

And if you've ever seen the legendary Irwin Miller House in Columbus, IN, built in the 1950s, you've already encountered the swoon-worthy Girard "pillowscape" and glorious textiles in the conversation pit that enliven the otherwise stark architecture of the Eero Saarinen -- designed home.

The home's new owners agreed to preserve the doors for the Scoren family, which are practically like a cubist family crest. Look closely and you'll see the initials "RS" for Robert Scoren, who died in 2012. The doors were just passed on to the delighted family, and will be installed at a daughter's home in Los Angeles.

"This is probably one of the coolest endings to the transaction," Kelsey says.

The doors also come with a cool backstory.

"The whole interior was done by my grandfather," Aleishall Girard Maxon says. The granddaughter of the famed designer, along with other family members, runs the Girard Studio, which is working to preserve and promote her grandfather's work.

The doors are trademark Girard, she says. "He was a master typographer. He loved monogramming things." She adds, "Taking the name for them on the doors is totally specialized to this house and typical of my grandfather."

Maxon, also an artist, was able to visit the Scoren house some years ago to view the furnishings up-close. Girard made custom cabinets for the kitchen "covered in fabrics." Other details include a custom headboard for a bedroom, curtains, and even furniture and built-ins, she notes.

Still, even though the architecturally trained Girard had done other custom homes, this one stood out, she notes, because of Scoren and Girard's friendship. Scoren "was my parents' and grandparents' dentist. And the relationship grew from there."

Girard, who eventually landed in New Mexico, led a more quiet existence than his creative compatriots. Lately, he has been experiencing a bit of a comeback. Herman Miller recently celebrated the artist with a special pop-up exhibit in Tokyo.

And the Vitra Design Museum in Germany opened a major retrospective of the artist's work that will run for a year and then travel, according to Maxon.

"He will get more exposure than he ever did when he was alive," she says.

Seems like a door has once again opened.