Design and Architecture World Mourns the Loss of a Legend

Michael Graves, IDSA, "Spearheaded a Major Design Movement"

Apr 13 2016 - 11:15am

Michael Graves Architecture and Design has announced the firm’s founding principal, Michael Graves, IDSA, passed away March 12, 2015, of natural causes at his home in Princeton, NJ. He was 80.

“Since founding the firm in 1964, Michael transformed the role of architects and designers, and even the place of design in our everyday lives,” the firm has posted on its website. “We knew him as an extraordinary designer, teacher, mentor and friend.”

"Michael Graves was a master designer, and just as importantly—a compassionate human being," reflects Charles Austen Angell, IDSA Board Chair and Modern Edge founder, president and CEO. "For any of us who had the pleasure of meeting him, we knew him as a tour de force, full of warmth and energy.  He leaves behind a wonderful family and an amazing organization of designers who will carry on his legacy.”

Graves was born in Indianapolis in 1934. He earned a degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati, attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and began teaching at Princeton University in 1962.

His firm adds, “For the countless students that he taught for more than 40 years, Michael was an inspiring professor who encouraged everyone to find their unique design voice. As we go forward in our practice, we will continue to honor Michael’s humanistic design philosophy through our commitment to creating unique design solutions that transform people’s live.”

“As a product designer, creating chess sets, stainless-steel colanders and dustpans for Target and tea kettles for Alessi… Graves brought high-design housewares to a broad public,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

CNN calls Graves “one of the most revered contemporary architects” whose firm designed hundreds of buildings worldwide for corporations, governments, foundations and universities, making them “functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.” His designs included office buildings, resorts, retail stores and monuments.

Graves was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1999 by President Clinton.

In 2003, Graves became paralyzed from the waist down after suffering from what began as a sinus infection. Confined to a wheelchair, he described himself as a “reluctant healthcare expert.” His firm began designing wheelchairs, hospital furniture and hospital buildings. "Whether I was paralyzed or not, I would draw, because drawing for me is like playing the piano. You've got to keep practicing, got to keep doing it. It's not that you lose it, but you don't draw as well if you don't draw every day," Graves told CNN.

Major media coverage continues:



The New York Times

The Wall Street Journal

Washington Post recalls his words of wisdom

How do you remember Michael Graves and how did he influence your design? Post your comments below.