Curator’s Eye

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cur eye 87.25

“Michael Graves has long been the darling of the postmodern moment in American design. In the mid-1980s his sleek steel-and-plastic tea kettles designed for Alessi were everywhere, and in the 1990s his line of household products for the newly hot Target stores made high-style design available to millions of Americans. In 1985 I approached Michael at his Princeton, New Jersey, office to design a classic object—a silver center­piece bowl—to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of our di­rector Samuel C. Miller. I then approached Tiffany & Co., whose sil­ver shop was located in their Parsippany, New Jersey, headquarters. Graves designed an elegant, whimsical footed bowl with floating ribbonlike handles—evoking an iconic hammered brass vessel by Josef Hoffmann in his personal collection. The gifted crew of silversmiths in Tiffany’s workshop puzzled over how to translate Michael’s cardboard model into a sterling silver reality, and the result is one of my favorite postmodern objects. It remains one of the most satisfying moments in my long career in Newark, whose modern design roots go back to 1910.”

senior curator and curator of decorative arts,

Newark Museum