Utilizing a holistic perspective, Michael Graves Architecture & Design focuses on how people live, work and play to create enduring, deeply human design solutions. How do we do that you may ask?
All of our designs are the result of MGA&D’s unique design thinking process. We take an immersive, evidence-based approach in order to fully understand the context, character and purpose of a project or product before beginning concept design. We welcome constraints because they help us stay focused on what we can accomplish, not on what we can’t. By thinking both linearly and tangentially, our design process transforms these challenges into opportunities.
We then add a dash of whimsy because we strongly believe that design should delight, both aesthetically and emotionally.
This time-tested approach has resulted in designs that possess an intrinsic logic that both responds to and drives the narrative, allowing an individual to be fully engaged with an environment or product. Or, more simply put, enduring human design.
Below, we have highlighted several projects that are excellent representations of MGA&D’s design thinking approach and examples of enduring design.
Alessi Tea Kettle
In 1980, Michael Graves was one of the several internationally known architects to receive an invitation to participate in the Alessi-sponsored “Coffee and Tea Piazza” design promotion. Of all the sets designed and manufactured, Michael Graves’ design sold best. Alessi then commissioned Graves to design the now famous Whistling Bird Teakettle that in turn led to a decades-long design collaboration that produced more than 150 products.
The 9093 Whistling Bird teakettle launched in 1985 has been Alessi’s best-selling item of all time, with over 2 million units sold. The design of the kettle utilizes strong metaphorical references to communicate use: the blue handle signals that it’s cool to touch while the red bird signals warmth.
I am fortunate to have been able to work with Michael on the design, and to this day, every time I hear it whistle, it makes me smile. – Donald Strum
Sunday Morning, the CBS weekly news show recently devoted a segment to “Timeless Design” and Donald Strum, Principal of Product Design for MGA&D was interviewed. “I am fortunate to have been able to work with Michael on the design, and to this day, every time I hear it whistle, it makes me smile.” Check out the interview with CBS Sunday Morning.
Dolphin & Swan Hotel
With increased competition in the hospitality industry, today’s hotel brands are seeking out bold, innovative and distinctive designs that present uniquely themed reflections of their brands. Hotel guests today expect unique experiences. They want their restaurant visits and hotel stays to excite them and perhaps deliver something nicer than their home, and design is a key feature in delivering these special experiences.
Completed in 1990, MGA&D’s Walt Disney World’s Dolphin and Swan Resort Hotels were the first hotel projects to utilize “destination architecture” to enhance the hotel and dining experience.
Through our holistic design of the architecture, interiors, furnishings, signage and graphics for both hotels, MGA&D’s iconic architectural character of Disney Dolphin and Swan Hotels continues to reflect their context and wow their guests.
Design quality has played an ever increasing role in the hospitality industry over the past two decades. – Patrick Burke
Forbes Magazine recently interviewed Patrick Burke, Architecture Principal at MGA&D for an article on trends in hospitality design. According to Burke, “Design quality has played an ever increasing role in the hospitality industry over the past two decades. Better and more varied interior design has advanced in the hospitality industry since the early 1990s in parallel to the continued development of better and more varied dining experiences.” Check out the article here.
Attesting to its ageless appeal, The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort was included on the list of the top 150 architecture projects selected by the American public. This poll was conducted in conjunction with the American Institute of Architect’s 150th anniversary.
In 1968, Michael Graves, then a young professor at Princeton University, was commissioned by Paul Benacerraf, another Princeton professor, to design an addition to his Tudoresque residence in Princeton. While a new breakfast room and playroom extended the living area of the house, Graves conceived of the addition as a freestanding pavilion in the garden. At the time, Graves was fascinated by Le Corbusier’s purist architecture of the 1920s, as expressed in the building’s whiteness and cubic form, as well as the tension between plane and spatial volume.
The project, along with Graves’ Hanselmann House of the same period, received acclaim among architects and scholars following its publication in the seminal book, Five Architects. Generations of students have commented on the influence of the Benacerraf House design and its taut geometric alignments. For Graves, the project also juxtaposed his interest in abstraction with his developing interest in figurative forms and color, presaging his later work. For example, he saw the curvilinear profile of an opening in the roof terrace wall as a representation of a tree line or clouds, and a perforated yellow beam as a metaphor for sunlight.
We are honored that the owners recognized the historical significance of this early Graves design – Karen Nichols
Karen Nichols, Architecture Principal at MGA&D shares “We are honored that the owners recognized the historical significance of this early Graves design, and asked us to reconstruct the pavilion in its original form and modernize the house.” Construction will be completed in early 2017.
New York City School Construction Authority
Finally, we would like to share a current example of enduring design. MGA&D has been a preferred vendor with the New York City School Construction Authority (NYSCA) for the past six years and has designed over half a million square feet of classroom space (5 projects, 4 completed).
We feel it is important that the design is ‘of the neighborhood’ and reflect the unique characteristics of its location – Tom Rowe
The NYSCA’s stated mission is to provide good classrooms and public assembly spaces for public school students. However, in many areas in NYC, public schools are often the only civic building in a given neighborhood.
“We feel it is important that the design is ‘of the neighborhood’ and reflect the unique characteristics of its location,” shares Thomas Rowe, Architecture Principal at MGA&D and Design Principal for all of the NYCSCA projects. “The school building itself becomes a vital resource within the neighborhood, especially critical for community outreach purposes, as many schools were following Hurricane Sandy.” What better example of enduring design?
Whether it is a whistling teapot that makes people smile every morning while they prepare their tea, or a new public school in New York City, MGA&D’s design thinking approach results in projects with purpose and personality that stand the test of time.