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Michael Graves: Design for Life

Ian Volner

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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 healthcare 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.

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