Contract - January/February 2013 - (Page 52)

legend award By James S. Russell, FAIA In a crowded room of an unassuming white-clapboard house in Princeton, New Jersey, Michael Graves, FAIA, deftly pirouettes in his electric-powered wheelchair. He was showing off the details of a new patient chair for the Stryker medical technology company that he had designed for people lacking leg strength or balance. “The arms are angled toward you, with a protruding loop that invites you to grasp them and ease yourself down,” he explains. The feature also helps patients get into the easiest position to rise from the chair. “The body almost raises itself.” Healthcare design is the new passion of the architect who brought a stylistic freedom and exuberant romance to architecture in the 1980s. Graves’s designs were a bracing breath of fresh air after the dour Brutalism of the 1970s and the hardened orthodoxies of late Modernism. Since then he has been turning out richly colored, Beaux Arts–inspired houses, hotels, libraries, museums, civic buildings, and healthcare facilities all over the world. His fluid sketches and sunny paintings continue to be influential, and he has been teaching for close to 50 years. While many architects succeed with a line of furniture or the occasional accessory, Graves has developed a product-design empire out of that clapboard house with his firm Michael Graves Design Group, which is separate from his architecture, interiors, and planning practice, Michael Graves & Associates. More than two million of his whistling-bird teapots for Alessi have sold since its introduction in 1985, and is still a familiar presence in kitchens worldwide. He has designed furniture and lighting for several companies and a multitude of household products for Target. And a new product line for jcp, the rebranded J.C. Penney chain, will roll out this spring. It is for this body of rich, diverse, even idiosyncratic contributions to the field of design that Michael Graves is awarded the 2013 Legend Award by Contract. It’s an influential career come full circle as Graves won the second annual Designer of the Year award in 1981. In fact, Graves is the only past Designer of the Year to also receive the Legend distinction. He also won the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal—the AIA’s highest honor—in 2001. Healthcare might seem a natural design challenge for an architect with people-pleasing buildings and consumer products in his repertoire, but it became a personal mission for Graves after recovering from a sudden paralysis in 2003 that left him with the use of only his upper body. Once his condition stabilized, he says, “I sat in my hospital room and thought, ‘OK, Michael. As a designer and an architect and a patient, what can you do?’” Along with a suite of patient-room furniture for Stryker and healthcare fabrics for cf stinson, Graves has built prototype Wounded Warrior houses for disabled soldiers, and he is designing orthopedic clinics in Vail, Colorado, and Somers Point, New Jersey. 52 legend january | february 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - January/February 2013

Contract - January/February 2013
Industry News
Product Briefs: Lighting
Product Focus: Bonaire and Buxom
Designer of the Year
Legend Award
34th annual interiors awards
Large Office
Small Office
Public Space
Adaptive Reuse
Designers Select: Tables and Desks
Ad Index
Public Interest Design
Perspective: Michael Graves on the Lost Art of Drawing

Contract - January/February 2013