I had planned to blog about the Michael Graves Keynote from the Merchandise Mart on my iPhone, but had difficulty getting a cellular signal. Nevertheless, here is my recap...
I admit, I didn't know much about Graves prior to the presentation except for his products for Target and some of his architectural works like the Swan & Dolphin resorts at Disney World. Some consider him to be America's greatest living architect.
It was interesting to hear and see the stories and images Graves shared through his slide presentation. He started by talking about his youth in Indiana during the 1940's and 1950's. During the 60's he went to the University of Cinicinati, then on to Harvard for graduate school. After Harvard, he received a scholarship to study in Rome. The time Graves spent in Rome had a tremendous impact on his design sensibilities.
Michael Graves showed a very small sampling of some 2000 sketches from his time in Rome and juxtaposed those with images of various things he has designed....like his home in New Jersey, utensils from Target and large architectural commissions. Graves confessed that he truly loves design with a story. Designs from the past, with a rich history and tradition inspire him to create objects and environments that are imbued with the same richness. He expressed that designing just for design sake is not a pursuit worth exploring.
The most interesting aspect to me about Michael Graves' presentation was when he briefly discussed his recent paralysis that occurred around 2003 from a serious case of bacterial meningitis. He is paralyzed from the waist down, but this has not stopped the ever-busy designer from working. This new way of living for him has seemingly changed his perspective and crept into his recent designs....taking into consideration the way that some folks are similarly challenged.
The presentation ended with a brief Q&A session. All-in-all, it was a wonderful opportunity to hear a well-recognized American designer & architect talk about his life's passion.