Michael Graves

Michael Graves
Michael Graves
  • Born: July 9, 1934
  • Died: March 12, 2015
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Architect

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Michael Graves was an American architect and principal of Michael Graves and Associates and Michael Graves Design Group. He was also professor of architecture at Princeton University for nearly forty years. Graves, who was one of The New York Five and a member of the Memphis Group, is best known first for his modern and postmodern building designs. Some of his best-known public commissions, such as the Portland Building in Oregon and the Humana Building in Kentucky, became iconic examples of Postmodern architecture. Other notable projects in the United States include a major expansion of the Denver Public Library in Colorado and several buildings for The Walt Disney Company, among others. He also designed buildings internationally. In addition to his postmodern buildings, Graves was a representative of New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture, and was recognized as a major influence in all three movements.

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Architecture only does part of the work. How you fill the space matters just as much, sometimes more. I designed a beach house with a continuous living/dining area, but it had to have a table in the middle to give it a visual rhythm. Every room has a foreground and a background. But you also need a middle ground - like that table - to go between. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
As a child, I was obsessed with drawing things, like Mickey and Donald. And houses. My mother was worried I'd become an artist.
For my first apartment, when I was first married, I went to the lumberyard and bought stuff and made couches. My then-wife made cushions. I was really very interested in furniture. I was in school for architecture, but I had to live, and making furniture was different from designing buildings, which I couldn't do for myself.
Form must never trump function. Some objects are made to look so smooth, you don't know where to pick them up or how to turn them on. If I'm designing a garlic press or cheese grater, I need my hand to fit comfortably on it. I like to know, instinctively, how to use it.
Good design should be available to everyone - and I do mean everyone. What I spent on the wheelchair I'm in could buy a small Mercedes. It's not only unfair to me; it's unfair to someone who's indigent but has the same needs. My goal is to make all objects affordable.
Good design to me is both appearance and functionality together. It's the experience that makes it good design.
I believe well-designed places and objects can actually improve healing, while poor design can inhibit it.
I don't believe in morality in architecture. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I don't care what people call me, labels have the negative value of making smaller boundaries for people.
I don't clean now, because I'm paralyzed. But let me tell you, I would clean. I cleaned, and I ironed. It's my inner femininity.
I grew up in a time when Eames and Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright and other architects were putting their furniture and objects on the market. You could buy some of those objects on the open market. Eames was a huge influence on all of us in school. Time
I had been designing for Alessi and Swid Powell and Steuben and high-end people, and people always complained, 'Michael, we'd love to buy your stuff, but it's too expensive.' Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I have no requirements for a style of architecture.
I see architecture not as Gropius did, as a moral venture, as truth, but as invention, in the same way that poetry or music or painting is invention. Truth ;Music, Chants & Rapps ;Literature, Writers & Writing
I taught at Princeton for 39 years, and the school of architecture on the campus is the worst building on the campus.
I used a kind of gray-green early on in my practice for painting steel, to make it look more like it had a kind of patina to it, like copper and bronze and so on. The color I used was a Benjamin Moore color called 2012. My then-young daughter started calling me 2012 - it was my nickname.
If I have a style, I am not aware of it.
I'm working on a school of architecture in China. It's rare that an architect gets to design a school of architecture, and here I get to do it. I'm so pleased that they asked me.
In any architecture, there is an equity between the pragmatic function and the symbolic function.
In designing hardware to be used every day, it was important to keep both the human aspects and the machine in mind. What looks good also often feels good.
Instead of using the machine as a metaphor for architecture, as Le Corbusier did, I use the human body. I want the public to know that it's them I'm designing for.
It was always my goal to 'up the ante' on good design, and I've devoted much of my career to this.
On the first day I got my wheelchair, I was also given all my clothes for the next day, a little pile on the chair. I was so proud of myself for getting it all on - the socks and everything. Dressing is a struggle, and it can take up to an hour and a half.
Someone once told me they didn't like taking the lid off the kettle because they'd just lose it in the kitchen, so we made a kettle with an attached lid that you slide. It was in response to that that we made one that did something different.
The avant garde is so narcissistic.
The cost is minimal, but one of the things that you want in a universal design is to make the plan as open as you can... and to still have walls around bedrooms and that sort of thing, and to keep the corridors wide enough so the wheelchair can do a 360 in the corridor.
The dialogue of architecture has been centered too long around the idea of truth. Truth
The oldest book I have is a treatise on architecture from the 17th century.
Views are overrated; it's light that counts. I have an apartment in Miami's South Beach, and I get tired of looking at the ocean. Even that view gets old after a while. Sunlight streaming into a room - it never gets old.
We always correct people who say, 'You're trying to make this look better.' Well yes, we want it to look better, but that's easy. The look and the function are one and the same. They are not separate. It looks good because it functions beautifully. That message is very hard.
We use blue on the handle of the Alessi kettle. Blue is cool, so you're supposed to think that it's not hot. And the bird is red: you're supposed to think to be careful to remove the bird.
We've taken on health care in a big way in our office, ever since nine years ago when I was paralyzed. I was in eight different hospitals, three different rehab centers, and all the rooms were dreadful. As an architect, designer, and patient, I can do something to help. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
When I design a building, I'm making sure you and I can get to the front door, there's enough of a threshold for entry, and that the rooms are in a logical sequence.
When I started my own practice, I was criticized, not because I was doing product design but because, like Le Corbusier, I was insisting on paintings in all of my buildings. I would paint wall murals in the houses that I designed, just as he did in the '20s and '30s.
When you do what I do, there are a lot of institutions that give you awards. I've gotten maybe 20 medals. They're glorious, and there's a spirit behind them. But sometimes they give you this dreadful modern glass thing. I wish everyone could afford a loving cup.
You can never draw enough or read enough - reading about architecture, in other words.