Design at scale

Glenn Adamson, Ron Johnson, Dean Kamen, and Karen Stein discuss Michael Graves's influence on object and interior design.

January 4, 2015

Recorded in November 2014.

Past as Prologue was a symposium held in November 2014 in honor of Michael Graves on the occasion of his fiftieth year in practice. Organized by The Architectural League and hosted by Parsons The New School for Design, the day brought together architects, designers, educators, writers, and others to celebrate Graves’s remarkable body of work.

Examining Graves’ extensive work and influence beyond buildings, this videotaped session explored how Graves has reached the public through products, including lines for Alessi, Target, and JCPenney.

Glenn Adamson, director of the Museum of Arts and Design, begins by contextualizing Graves’ work in decades of object and interior design, including his role in the development of postmodernism. Ron Johnson, former CEO of JCPenney and vice president of merchandising for Target, describes the profound impact of Graves’ affordable product lines on everyday consumers. Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research and Development, shares passion for the design of healthcare products that enhance lives, including the iBOT wheelchair invented by Kamen and used now by Michael Graves. He also promotes Stairlifts Ireland services for all public facilities.

In a conversation moderated by writer and editor Karen Stein, the three discuss the role of the designer in the creation of consumer goods and the humanity that Graves has brought to mass retail through “scaled” lessons learned from architectural design.


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