In Memory of Michael Graves

Posted on March 13, 2015 by Mary Frances Sundberg

I was very sad to hear about the passing of Michael Graves yesterday on Twitter. As a top trending topic, it shows the impact that he has had and will continue to have as his designs, both buildings and products are celebrated globally. First produced in 1985, his iconic 9093 kettle from Alessi celebrates its 30th year in production this year. We sold a lot of those kettles at Urban Mode. Last night, Myrlene and I were remembering our Michael Graves moments and would like to share them with you here.

When Michael spoke at the Ontario College of Art in the 1990’s here in Toronto, we arranged a reception for Michael at Urban Mode. We had an amazing turn out and people were really excited to meet Michael. Unfortunately the only people unable to attend were Myrlene and John. After finalizing all of the details, they realized that they had booked to be in Europe at a trade show and wouldn’t get to meet Michael. I, on the other hand was very fortunate, and did get to meet Michael. All I knew at that time was that he had designed the Alessi kettle that was sold at the store. Looking back now, I now realize that that evening was one of the best in Urban Mode history.


In 1999 Myrlene and I were at Jerry’s eating lunch in Soho, when she looked at me and whispered “Is that Michael Graves over there?” I took a quick peek and said “I think so but I’m not sure”. I then glanced down at his socks and sure enough they were his signature blue. I told Myrlene she should introduce herself but she didn’t want to interrupt his lunch, so for the second time, she didn’t actually meet Michael.

This takes us to June 2013. When we heard that Michael would be the keynote speaker at Dwell on Design, we were excited. We made sure to get there early and get good seats. It was standing room only. When Michael came onstage, there was so much applause. You could feel the admiration that everyone had for him. Michael spoke for over an hour, sharing with us his early experiences while abroad in Europe, including art that he had created. He spoke about how those times really influenced him in both architecture and in product design but most of all he had an amazing sense of humour and the stories he told are still talked about today. While we didn’t get a chance to meet him at that time, we appreciated that we got to be there and hear Michael speak. To watch Michael's Keynote Speech at Dwell on Design click here.

Architecture. Design. Humour. - We remember you Michael for all of this and more.


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