Strategy by Design: Games by Michael Graves focuses on the games designed by the Michael Graves Design Group.
Part of the line of housewares, decorative accessories, and furnishings created for the Target Corporation (now sold exclusively by JCPenney), these games bear the inimitable Graves stamp in their sleek and sophisticated design. While the exhibition features such games as Scrabble, Monopoly, Poker, and Stratego, the central element is the chess set, which is complemented by materials used in the design and creation of the set loaned by the Michael Graves Design Group. The exhibition provides further contextual foundation for Graves’ historical significance through additional examples of product design. For educational purposes, the exhibition also includes video elements that provide additional context for Michael Graves’ work and career, and an education center featuring books and other materials that provide supplementary historical background.
About Michael Graves
Michael Graves (b. 1934) is a celebrated American architect who studied at the University of Cincinnati and Harvard University, and later taught at Princeton University, where he is currently the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus. Though Graves first earned acclaim as an architect, he later became well-known for the affordable home products he created for Target from 1999-2012. Believing in the power of beautifully-designed consumer goods to create an uplifting environment, his line made elegant design available to the everyday consumer, a trend that he has continued through his current partnership with JCPenney. Among the awards he has received are the 1999 National Medal of Arts, the 2001 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects, the 2010 Topaz Medallion from the AIA/ACSA. He is currently serving on the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.
About the Curator
Bradley Bailey, Guest Curator
Bradley Bailey is associate professor of art history at Saint Louis University. He is co-author of the book Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess (2009) and the author of essays in Marcel Dzama: Sower of Discord (2013), recently published by Abrams Books. In 2011, he curated Out of the Box: Artists Play Chess, one of the inaugural exhibitions at the World Chess Hall of Fame.
Rather than using the familiar objects and animals for the metal tokens found in the standard Monopoly game, Graves customized his set for Target by modeling the pewter game pieces on his own products and architectural designs. The house in the Monopoly game is based on the original Michael Graves Design logo and is colored Graves Blue, the proprietary hue derived from old-fashioned architectural blueprints that was used in all of his packaging for Target. The distinctive shape of the hotel mimics the steeply-pitched gabled roofs of Castalia, the headquarters of the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport in The Hague, the Netherlands, a Graves architectural design constructed in 1998.
Home Design Products
Perhaps his most immediately identifiable product design, the Whistling Bird teakettle was commissioned by the Italian firm Alessi as a lower-cost item for the high-end retailer in an attempt to break into the American market. With over two million sold since its debut in 1985, the Whistling Bird teakettle is Alessi’s most popular product.
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