The first biography of one of the most prominent and prolific designers and architects of the late 20th century, Michael Graves, will become available later this month. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, “Michael Graves: Design for Life” by Ian Volner was officially released in October 2017. Copies are available to order here.
In his book, Volner explores the wide-spread impact of Graves' work, which included provocative buildings, such as the Humana Building in Louisville, Ky., and the Portland Public Service Building in Oregon; in addition to popular product designs, including the world-famous Alessi whistling-bird teakettle.
Basing his study on a series of extensive interviews with Graves conducted shortly before his sudden death in 2015, as well as numerous interviews with family, patrons, colleagues, and friends, Volner offers new insight into the designer's personal life as it paralleled his outstanding design achievements.
Graves was generally seen as the leading voice of postmodernist architecture, which reintroduced human scale, color, and, at times, playful forms into the stark-white vocabulary of modernism. Following a devastating illness that paralyzed him from the chest down, Graves became a determined designer and advocate of improved healthcare products and facilities prior to his passing. Shortly before this, he began a series of interviews with Volner, which developed into this biography of the exceptional designer. What results is a closely researched, anecdote-rich human story, as well as an introduction to the American architecture scene of the past 60 years, and a portrait of a man whose deep passion inspired the masses.
Volner has contributed articles on architecture, design, and urbanism to The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Harper's, and The New Yorker, and is a contributing editor at Architect and Surface. He is also the author of “This Is Frank Lloyd Wright.”