Design for Life
One of the most prominent and prolific designers and architects of the late twentieth century, Michael Graves is best known for his popular product designs, including the world-famous Alessi whistling-bird teakettle, and controversial buildings, such as the Portland Building in Oregon, Humana Building in Kentucky, and Dolphin and Swan Hotels at Walt Disney World, Florida. Graves was widely seen as the leading voice of postmodernist architecture, which reintroduced human scale, color, and, sometimes, playful forms into the stark white vocabulary of modernism. Following a devastating illness that paralyzed him from the chest down, Graves became a tireless designer and advocate of improved health-care products and facilities before his sudden death in 2015. Shortly before this, he began a series of interviews with journalist Ian Volner, which form the basis of this biography of a remarkable designer. Volner also conducted numerous interviews with Graves's family, patrons, colleagues, and friends. What emerges is a meticulously researched, anecdote-rich human story, as well as a primer on the American architecture scene of the past sixty years and a portrait of a man whose deep passion for his art brought pleasure to millions.
This book pays tribute to Michael Graves (1934--2015) as one of the prime movers and makers of POMO, or Postmodernism in the 1980s, which pulled architectural design out of the hands of engineers and into the hearts of historians and artists. Graves was born in Indianapolis, one of the stockyard capitals of the Midwest, where his father worked as a trader in the deconstruction of animals. Graves called the city Indian-no place. He taught at Princeton University's School of Architecture from 1962 to 2000, fighting for public architecture all over the country in the form of libraries, town halls, hotels, and office towers. He died in 2015 of heart failure following 12 years of wheelchair-bound life owing to a painful spinal infection in 2002. This book is less academic and objective than anecdotal and informative---stemming from dozens of recorded interviews with Graves and everyone who knew him well. VERDICT This book has real gravity, yet it sparkles with light, so it benefits not just accomplished professionals but anyone who admires design.