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Thursday, March 19

michael graves



Last week, we lost a great visionary in the design community.
Michael Graves July 9, 1934 – March 12, 2015
Check out his gorgeous website here.

Identified as one of The New York Five, as well as Memphis Group, Graves, was an American architect, was known first for his contemporary building designs and some prominent public commissions that became iconic examples of postmodern architecture, such as... 


Portland Building

Denver Public Library

His recognition grew through designing domestic products sold by premium Italian house wares maker Alessi, and later low-cost new designs at stores such as Target and J. C. Penney in the United States. He was a representative of New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture and formerly designed postmodern buildings, and was recognized as a major influence in all three movements.



Graves was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended Broad Ripple High School, receiving his diploma in 1952. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He earned a master's degree in architecture from Harvard University in 1959. Graves won the Rome Prize in 1960 and spent the next two years at the American Academy in Rome.


In 2003, Graves was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a spinal cord infection.

Product and Furniture Design

In 1985, Graves designed a stainless steel teakettle featuring a red whistle shaped like a bird for the Italian company Alessi, which became the company's all-time bestselling product.
In 2000, Graves designed the scaffolding used for the restoration of the Washington Monument in Washington DC. During that assignment, which Target Corp sponsored, he met a Target executive who appreciated his product design and a relationship was formed. He began designing consumer products for the mass market and Target sold his products through their store.
Concerned about Target's partnerships with other designers with less-successful outcomes, he explored other relationships to bring products to consumers. When the former Target executive became CEO of J.C. Penney, Graves’s products switched over to being sold exclusively through J.C. Penney.



Want to find out more about his versatile designs? 
Check out Beyond Teakettles by Anne Quito.


After Graves became paralyzed, his use of a wheelchair turned him into a "reluctant health expert", with an increased awareness of accessible design. He focused his attention on the design of wheelchairs, hospital furnishings, hospitals, and disabled veteran's housing.


Awards and Honors

Graves was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1979. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1999, the AIA Gold Medal in 2001, and the Driehaus Architecture Prize in 2012. He was also a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council. In 2010, Graves was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.


On November 22, 2014, the Architectural League of New York held a symposium in his honor, in which several prominent architects such as Steven Holl and Peter Eisenman as well as Graves himself served as guests and lecturers. From October 13, 2014 until April 5, 2015, the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey held a retrospective exhibition of his work, entitled Michael Graves: Past as Prologue.


Graves died in his Princeton, New Jersey home on March 12, 2015 at the age of 80. 

CBS Sunday Morning says it all beautifully here.