Friday, May 8, 2009

Michael Graves is in a wheelchair and he can still kick your ass

Longtime WAD readers know that I've taken some shots at Michael Graves before.  (I've done it here, for example)  But I keed beecauzze I luuvv.  I like his stuff in general, especially his industrial design stuff.  I got an email recently from Healthcare Design Magazine noting that Michael Graves will be the keynote speaker at their conference this November in Orlando.  The profile of Graves talks about the awards that His Kitschiness has received and the services his various firms offer, and then it says:

In 2003, a sudden illness left him paralyzed from the waist down. Now confined to a wheelchair, Graves' designs continue to combine simple utility, functional innovation, and formal beauty with his now deeper understanding of the importance of accessibility and patient-centered design in the healthcare sector. Five years after the illness that changed him forever, Graves and his team are hard at work on many healthcare design projects, including a line of home healthcare products that fuse one-dimensional medical utility with style, multifunctional elegance, and beauty.

“We are delighted and honored to have someone of Michael Graves' stature to keynote this event," says Debra Levin, President and CEO of The Center. “Michael's stated design philosophy — that healthcare settings need to serve those who work and receive care in them — is very much in alignment with The Center's mission to transform healthcare environments through design research. We look forward to what we know will be an engaging, dynamic, not-to-be-missed keynote presentation that will set the tone for the rest of the event."

What?  In a wheelchair?  Good Gawd!  I suppose it's unfortunate for him (but certainly not the worst thing that could happen to him--at least he didn't have a stroke or something), but it's really a gift for the healthcare design world.  Like him or not, Graves has a way with industrial (objects) design and graphic (print) design that is unique and arguably revolutionary.  I like his stuff, and so do a crapload of people who shop at Target.  Michael Graves entrance into the healthcare design world (even if it's Chevy Chase-like and inadvertent) means introducing new design style and taste to a clientele that is generally (in my experience) averse to anything "design-y".  As I've described in an earlier post, the first task of a healthcare facility is to function so that caring for and healing patients happens efficiently and effectively.  Pretty takes a backseat to functional in a healthcare facility, and it usually gets felt up in that back seat.

So His Kitschiness is about to be His Clinically Usefulness.  Righteous.  Let the healing begin, my people.  But let me open the question to the people: have you ever used any Michael Graves-designed stuff, and how well did it work?  What would you love to see him (re)design?  (Other than a chicken coop?)


p-dizzle said...

Graves has made some wonderful designs in his time, however as a resident of Portland Oregon I feel it necessary to point out that even great architects make some ugly buildings. The Portland Building is perhaps one of the most notable (and earliest) examples of Graves gone wrong.

Wilderness Gina said...

I have a hand mixer designed by Graves. I like it. It looks good, is easy to use and comfortable in the hand. I'd like to see M.G. redesign the Ignant County Comprehensive High School. It doesn't look as bad as I thought it would, BUT..... Oh and they will be wrecking the old building this summer. Does a Pixie want a brick to throw at her Auntie Grover?