Donald Strum, principal of product design at Michael Graves Design Group, drew a standing-room-only crowd at the Business of Design Stage on Friday, June 21, at Dwell on Design. Strum briefly introduced the work of the eminent architect before delving into the inner workings of the office's new line of homewares for presenting sponsor jcpenney.
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The Graves office just finished a 14-year relationship with Target, and are thrilled to "move away from the plastics," as Strum puts it, with its 250-piece line for the department store. For this collection, Strum and his team have embraced materials like terra cotta, stainless steel, glass, and acacia wood. A tremor of surprise rippled through the audience as Strum revealed one of the guiding influences for the collection: celery. Previous objects out of the Graves office have been inspired by the hand feel of an egg, and for this one the firm looked to celery stalks for how the objects should feel.
It was fascinating to see how initial sketches made by Graves ultimately transformed into finished products. Strum gave special attention to the Michael Graves Design Toaster made of stainless steel and copper and cut to look like a loaf of bread. When it came time for questions, one of the first was "Where in Southern California can we buy these things?" Strum said that he'd check, but a clear Graves fan in the crowd, without missing a beat, shouted out "Glendale."