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Michael Graves, Architect and Product Designer


Architect Michael Graves

Architect Michael Graves

Photo © Matthew Peyton / Getty Images Entertainment
Architect Michael Graves is a postmodernist who brings innovation and playful design to sophisticated buildings and everyday objects such as teakettles. Paralyzed late in life, he has also become a spokesman for universal design.


July 9, 1934 in Indianapolis, Indiana


  • University of Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Harvard University
  • Fellow at the American Academy in Rome

Important Buildings and Projects:

Also Known For:

Michael Graves has designed furnishings, artifacts, jewelry, and dinnerware for companies such as Disney, Alessi, Steuben, Phillips Electronics, and Black & Decker. Most recently, Michael Graves is most famous for designing more than 100 products, ranging from a toilet brush to a $60,000 outdoor pavilion, for Target stores.

Related People:

Michael Graves' Illness:

In 2003, a sudden illness left Michael Graves paralyzed from the waist down. Now confined to a wheelchair, Graves combines his sophisticated and often whimsical approach to design with a deeper understanding of the importance of accessibility.

More About Michael Graves:

Michael Graves is often credited with moving American architectural thought from abstract modernism to post-modernism. Graves founded his practice in Princeton, New Jersey in 1964 and taught at Princeton University in New Jersey for almost 40 years. His works range from grand projects such as the Public Services Building in Portland Oregon to designs for furniture, teapots, and other household items.

Borrowing heavily from the past, Graves often combines traditional details with whimsical flourishes. He was, perhaps, at his most playful when he designed the Dolphin and Swan Hotels for the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The Dolphin Hotel is a turquoise and coral pyramid. A 63-foot-dolphin sits on top, and water cascades down the side. The Swan Hotel has a gently curved roof-line topped with 7-foot swans. The two hotels are connected by an awning-sheltered walkway over a lagoon.

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