Words with Masters

We ask a group of leading designers about their careers, their inspirations, their thoughts on the current state of design, and their advice for the generation to come.

 Michael Graves | Architect, Designer and Founder, Michael Graves & Associates

How would you define a master of design?
I would define a master of design to be someone who worked within a language of architecture that was well-known, and whose work was truly original.

Who are some of the design icons that you have looked up to throughout your career?
Josef Hoffmann, Le Corbusier, Aldo Rossi, Gunnar Asplund, Andrea Palladio, and Francesco Borromini.

At what point did you start to realize that people looked up to your work in this way?
Since I lecture a lot, I have opportunities to regularly speak with people who come to hear me. It is humbling when they tell me that my work or lectures have influenced their careers, or have been personally meaningful to them.

What most excites you about design today?
To be honest, very little excites me about architectural design today. I find most of today’s work to be narcissistic, whether the designer is young or old.

Do you have any advice for fledgling designers?
Whenever someone who is just starting out in their career asks me for advice, I always suggest that they think like a pianist and practice every day. For me, practice means drawing. I also believe you need to read, read, and read.

What interiors have most affected your perspectives on design?
I can immediately think of three interiors that truly affected my perspective on design:  Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen, The Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen by C.F. Hansen, and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, also known as the Bavarian State Library in Munich.

What’s the most recent book you couldn’t put down?
I am currently reading “Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History” by Robert Hughes, and I cannot put it down.

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