|Birth Day:||July 9, 1934|
|Birth Place:||Indianapolis, United States|
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He graduated from Broad Ripple High School in 1952. He earned his Bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati and a Master's degree in architecture from Harvard University.
Graves was born on July 9, 1934, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Erma (Lowe) and Thomas B. Graves. He grew up in the city's suburbs and later credited his mother for suggestion that he become and engineer or an architect. Graves graduated from Indianapolis's Broad Ripple High School in 1952 and earned a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1958 from the University of Cincinnati. During college he also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Graves earned a master's degree in architecture from Harvard University in 1959.
Little is known of Graves' married life. His marriage to Gail Devine in 1955 ended in divorce; his subsequent marriage to Lucy James in 1972 also ended in divorce. Graves was the father of three children, two sons and a daughter.
After graduation from college, Graves spent a year working in George Nelson's office. Nelson, a furniture designer and the creative director for Herman Miller, exposed Graves to the work of fellow designers Charles and Ray Eames and Alexander Girard. In 1960 Graves won the American Academy in Rome's Prix de Rome (Rome Prize) and spent the next two years at the Academy in Italy. Graves describes himself as "transformed" by his experience in Rome: "I discovered new ways of seeing and analyzing both architecture and landscape."
Graves began his career in 1962 as a professor of architecture at Princeton University, where he taught for nearly four decades, and established his own architectural firm in 1964 at Princeton, New Jersey. Graves worked as an architect in public practice designing a variety of buildings that included private residences, university buildings, hotel resorts, hospitals, retail and commercial office buildings, museums, civic buildings, and monuments. During a career that spanned nearly fifty years, Graves and his firm designed more than 350 buildings around the world, in addition to an estimated 2,000 household products.
In 1962, after two years of studies in Rome, Graves returned to the United States and moved to Princeton, New Jersey, where he had accepted a professorship at the Princeton University School of Architecture. Graves taught at Princeton for thirty-nine years while simultaneously practicing architecture. He retired as the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus, in 2001. Although Graves was a longtime faculty member at Princeton and trained many of its architecture students, the university did not allow its faculty to practice their profession on its campus. As a result, Graves was never commissioned to design a building for the university.
In his early years as an architect, Graves did designs for home renovation projects in Princeton. In 1964 he founded the architectural firm of Michael Graves & Associate in Princeton and remained in public practice there until the end of his life. His firm maintained offices in Princeton, New Jersey, and in New York City, but his residence in Princeton served as his design studio, home office and library, and a place to display the many objects he collected during his world travels. Nicknamed "The Warehouse", it also displayed many of the household items he designed. After Graves's death, Kean University acquired his former home and studio in Princeton, along with two adjacent buildings.
Graves designed some of his most iconic buildings in the early 1980s, including the Portland Building. The fifteen-story Portland Municipal Services Building, his first major public commission, opened in 1982 in downtown Portland, Oregon. The "monolithic cube" with decorated facades and colorful, oversized columns is "considered a seminal Postmodern work" and one of Graves's best-known works of architecture. The celebrated but controversial municipal office also became an icon for the city of Portland and subject to an ongoing preservation debate. Regarded as the first major built example of postmodern architecture in a tall office building, the Portland Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. Although it faced demolition in 2014, the city government decided to proceed with a renovation, estimated to cost $195 million.
In the early 1980s Ettore Sottsass recruited Graves to become a member of Memphis, a postmodern design group based in Milan, Italy. Graves began designing consumer products such as furniture and home accessories. Especially notable is his "Plaza" dressing table. Around the same time, Graves became associated with Alessi, a high-end Italian kitchenware manufacturer. Graves designed a sterling silver tea service for Alessi in 1982, a turning point in his career, and he was no longer known solely as an architect. After the $25,000 tea service began to attract buyers, Alberto Alessi commissioned Graves to design a moderate-priced kettle for his company. In 1985 Graves designed his iconic a stainless-steel teakettle (9093 stovetop kettle).
In naming Graves as a recipient of its national design award for lifetime achievement, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum explained that Graves broadened "the role of the architect in society" and raised "public interest in good design as essential to the quality of everyday life." Graves and his firm designed more than 2,000 consumer products during his lifetime. He was especially noted for his domestic housewares. Many Graves-designed products were sold through mass-market U.S. retailers such as Target and J. C. Penney, but his best-known product is the iconic kettle that he designed in 1985 for Alessi, an Italian housewares manufacturer. As an advocate for the needs of the disabled, Graves used his skills as an architect and designer "to improve healthcare experience for patients, families and clinicians."
In addition to housewares, Graves was involved in a variety of other design projects that included sets and costumes for New York City's Joffrey Ballet; a shopping bag for Bloomingdale's department store; jewelry for Cleto Munari of Milan, Italy; vinyl flooring for Tajima, a Japanese company; and rugs for Vorwerk, a German firm. In 1994 Graves opened a small retail store named the Graves Design Store in Princeton, New Jersey, where shoppers could purchase his designs and reproductions of his artwork. At that time Graves had designed products for more than fifty manufacturers.
In 1998 Target commissioned Graves to design a model home to showcase the new line of housewares, but Graves went a step further. He designed "Cedar Gables," contemporary house in Minnetonka, Minnesota, complete with custom furniture, lighting, fixtures, and other unique items, making it only one of three homes he designed and furnished. By 2009, however, Graves noted that the house "doesn't have a wow factor. That gets old quickly." When the partnership with Target ended in 2012, Graves had designed more than 500 objects for the retailer.
Graves retired as a professor of architecture at Princeton University in 2001, but remained active in his architecture and design firm. He also became an advocate for the disabled in the last decade of his life. When Graves became paralyzed from the waist down in 2003, the result of a spinal cord infection, the use of a wheelchair heightened his awareness of the needs of the disabled. After weeks of hospitalization and physical therapy, Graves adapted his home to suit his accessibility needs and resumed his architectural and design work. In addition to other types of buildings and household products, Graves designed wheelchairs, hospital furnishings, hospitals, and disabled veteran's housing. Graves also became a "reluctant health expert", as well as an internationally recognized advocate for accessible design. In 2013 President Barack Obama appointed Graves to an administrative role in the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (also known as the Access Board). The independent agency addresses accessibility concerns for people with disabilities.
Increasingly concerned about Target's dwindling partnerships with outside designers, Graves decided to explore other relationships for marketing his consumer products. After Johnson became CEO of J.C. Penney in 2011, he and Graves reached an agreement for Graves to design products exclusively for Penney's. Graves also created products for other manufacturers. In the 1990s for example, Graves created the Mickey Mouse Gourmet Collection for Moeller Design with the Walt Disney Company's approval. The collection of kitchenware and tabletop items was initially sold through the Walt Disney Company's retail stores and later offered at other retail outlets.
In 2014, a year before his death, Graves helped to establish and plan the Michael Graves School of Architecture at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. Kean University's Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies program began in 2015; its Master of Architecture program is slated to begin in 2019. As part of gift from Graves's estate, in 2016 the university acquired "The Warehouse" at 44 Patton Avenue in Princeton — Graves's former home and studio — as well as two adjacent buildings. The university plans to use the facility as an educational research center for its School of Public Architecture, although its main campus and its School of Public Architecture are located about forty miles away in Union, New Jersey.
Graves's prominence as a postmodernist architect may have reached its peak during the 1980s and in the early 1990s, but he continued to practice as an architect until his death in 2015. Later works include the O'Reilly Theater (1996) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis, Indiana; and 425 Fifth Avenue (2000) in New York City, among others. Graves also received recognition for his multi-year renovation of his personal residence in Princeton. International projects included the Sheraton Miramar Hotel (1997) in El Gouna, Egypt, and the Hard Rock Hotel in Singapore. One of the last projects that Michael Graves and Associates was involved in before Graves's death was the Louwman Museum (2010) in The Hague, Netherlands. Gary Lapera, a principal and studio head of Michael Graves and Associates, designed the museum, also known as the Lowman Collection and the National Automobile Museum of the Netherlands, which houses more than 230 cars.
The kettle featured a red, bird-shaped whistle at the end of the spout. It remained the company's top-selling product for fifteen years. In honor of its thirtieth anniversary in 2015, Graves designed a special edition version with a dragon replacing the kettle's bird-shaped whistle. In Italy in 1987, clock on display Apollodoro Gallery, seventh event The Hour of Architects, with Hans Hollei, Arata Isozaki, Ettore Sottsass, Paolo Portoghesi, paintings by Paolo Salvati, Rome. In 1997–98, when Graves designed the scaffolding used in the restoration of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C., he met Ron Johnson, a Target executive who appreciated his product designs. (The Target Corporation contributed $6 million toward restoration of the monument.) The result of their acquaintance was the formation of a business relationship between Graves and the U.S. retailer that lasted until 2012. Graves began the collaboration with Target by designing a half-dozen products for the mass-consumer market. His collection of housewares began selling in Target stores in January 1999.
Graves died at his home in Princeton, New Jersey, on March 12, 2015 at the age of 80, and is buried at Princeton Cemetery.
Currently, Michael Graves is 87 years, 6 months and 16 days old. Michael Graves will celebrate 88th birthday on a Saturday 9th of July 2022.
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