Tag Archives: Michael Graves

Impacting Patients Through Good Design

When Michael Graves lost his ability to walk in 2003, after a sinus infection infiltrated his nervous system – impairing his spinal cord, he had to learn to navigate the world from his wheelchair. However, while going through that difficult time, he became frustrated that the places that were supposed to make him feel empowered, like rehab centers and hospitals, did not. Graves felt helpless when he could not reach the faucet to brush his teeth or the outlet to plug in his shaver. Everything about the room was designed for people who could stand. Since then, the award-winning architect has been on a mission to revamp hospital furnishings and living spaces so they fit the patients, families and medical staff who use them.

“I decided that since I was a designer, and architect and a patient, I have the credentials to do this,” Graves said Oct. 15 at the inaugural Wired Health Conference.

The projects are part of a growing movement called human-centered design, which aims to redefine how people experience health care by focusing on their specific needs. Because the rehab center Graves used served mostly people in wheelchairs, it should have had electrical outlets higher on the wall and mirrors lower. But, it didn’t have either.

Graves is trying to stamp out the cues that make hospitals unpleasant — outdated furniture, lights that use pull strings that too often break, chairs and beds that are as uncomfortable as they are ugly. His designs, informed by research he and his team did in some 40 hospitals, soften patient rooms by adding splashes of color and give them a friendlier feel by rounding edges.

Michael Graves Design Group & Stryker Medical

In 2009, Graves formed a design partnership with one of the top medical technology companies, Stryker. The companies conducted months of ethnographic research, studying the environment and the way current furniture is being used. The result is an array of patient room furniture which demonstrates Graves’ philosophy that objects in healthcare environments can have a symbolic as well as a pragmatic function, with straightforward solutions that combine simple utility, functional innovation and elevated aesthetics. These pieces are now in about 20 hospitals.

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Swedish/Issaquah Medical Center in Issaquah, WA (Designed by CollinsWoerman) - featuring Vivid Shadow tile

Image: Michael Graves Design Group

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Are Architectural Drawings a Thing of the Past?

Has the computer ended the art of architectural drawing? In a New York Times article by architect and Princeton professor, Michael Graves, he discusses how the computer is transforming how the modern day architect works.

“Architecture cannot divorce itself from drawing, no matter how impressive the technology gets. Drawings are not just end products: they are part of the thought process of architectural design. Drawings express the interaction of our minds, eyes and hands. This last statement is absolutely crucial to the difference between those who draw to conceptualize architecture and those who use the computer.”

In the early 1960s, Graves won the Rome Prize and spent two years at the American Academy in Rome. Michael Graves' drawings of (Left) St. Peter's in Rome, 1962, and (Right) Drawing of Santi Nome di Maria in Rome, 1961.

Graves argues that there is purpose to drawing and not just to create a pretty picture. He argues that architectural drawing can be divided into three types: “referential sketch,” the “preparatory study” and the “definitive drawing.”

“The referential sketch serves as a visual diary, a record of an architect’s discovery. It can be as simple as a shorthand notation of a design concept or can describe details of a larger composition. The second type of drawing, the preparatory study, is typically part of a progression of drawings that elaborate a design.The definitive drawing, the final and most developed of the three, is almost universally produced on the computer nowadays, and that is appropriate.”

Graves believes that “drawing by hand stimulates the imagination and allows us to speculate about ideas, a good sign that we’re truly alive.”

Do you think the art of drawing is dead?

Images: New York Times

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