Target: 20 years of Design for All

Target celebrates 20 years of Design for All with select reissue of designer collaborations, a book, and a documentary.

Coming to a Target near you in September!

Really want one of those Michael Graves tea kettles again. Used to have one but lost it moving apartments…

Great video. I’m curious if they will do videos on Stark and Rashid?

This is exciting, I am also hoping for a tea kettle. The thing that gets me though is companies like Target claiming how much they value design, but still sell Knoll, Eames, etc. copies?

I don’t remember seeing furniture knockoffs in Target – can you share a few examples?

I’m sorry but that video is excruciating- The segment about that absurd kettle feels like an embarrassing spoof. Richard Sapper was the perpetrator of first silly kettle for Alessi that was a nightmare to use and gave you 2nd degree burns (I had one, so I know…) yet somehow Graves out-did Sapper with that one.

So, Target somehow allowed Graves to maneuver itself into a cheap space, sandwiched somewhere between Alessi’s frivolous anthropomorphized stuff and the Post-Modern nonsense of the late ’70’s

Graves seems to have made a career out of putting lurid cake frosting on mediocre design- The Portland building is basically a concrete bunker that’s horrible to work in, covered with a skin of “symbolic elements on its monumental facades”. It’s had to be recently renovated for $195 million, and lost its Historical Landmark status in the process.

I guess my question is: Given the reverence for the likes of Dieter Rams, and other design purists around here, why is Graves taken so seriously?

“Target has forever changed the retail landscape by doing what once was considered impossible—offering great design at an incredible price. This anniversary celebrates our rich design history and the diverse range of partnerships we’ve offered our guests for the last 20 years"

So… hire brand-name designers to adhere to a budget slightly looser than products destined for Wal-Mart, and then scour Asia to pump the parking lots full of designer-branded goods. Just like Jony Ive getting all the credit for Apple’s success when he’s maybe only one leg of the stool, credit for the “partnerships” Target created should go even more to the supply chain people and some of the product line planners.

I know we are supposed to applaud when a designer or the entire profession gets a “win”.

I think Michael Graves is one of those architects/designers that is easy and popular to shit on. The Portland building I believe was highly altered without his permission before it was built. I was never a fan of putting birds and eggs on tea kettles personally, nor do I like putting swans and porpoises on buildings, but I understand where the whole post modern thing was coming from in context of modernism. Likely it will happen again.

Either way, I’ve had these Michael Graves task lamps from target for about 20 years. One on each nightstand. They have served me well.

RE supply chain… yah, of course, might as well make that a signature to every post on the boards. He also had a large design team, some of the objects were shown to him for approval … but of course… we all are working on a team, with a team, for a team, or have a team…

Seems like some unnecessary shade being thrown on this one. At the time I looked at it very much as design at accessible price points for middle America. Some of the kitsch made a bit of sense in that context and I believe the stuff sold well.

Post-Modernism never made much sense to me, but yeah one does see a sort of re-emergence in this ‘maximalism’ trend.

True that one could append a ‘where do products come from’ discussion to everything ID related. There just seemed to be a symmetry suggested in that ‘20 years of Design’ title as a generational phenomenon that did not always exist, and could be coming to an end. There are no longer ‘cheap’ places to build things, and this isn’t necessarily bad. It might be bad for Target, which staged its ‘TarZhay’ reinvention upon ‘design for the masses’.

at the risk of generating more shade here is a Dwell video on MG:

I’m very conflicted on the work. Personally a lot of it is not for me. But I respect that he had a POV and he brought it to life at many scales and price points. I also respect that he kept working until the end because clearly he seemed to wanted to.

Sure, no problem. These are all “online only” but I recall seeing a Noguchi table when walking through once. There are plenty of people selling these, Target is not alone but I still find it ironic.

yikes! That is a bummer.

I feel like the Graves stuff worked at the time. Has it stood the test of time? Mostly, no. I saw him speak once when I was in college, and he came off as a pretty pompous jerk. (But what architect isn’t… hey-ooo!!!) ((Kidding. I love architects.))

Still want the tea kettle, though.

The Noguchi table was designed in 1947 and current design patent terms are 15 years from the date of the grant. There is nothing wrong with producing publicly disclosed work that is no longer protected by an IP monopoly. Moreover, Noguchi, the Eames and Michael Graves no longer require motivation or means to create as they have entered the permanent retirement known as death.

Micheal: Love those lamps! I’ve been looking for some nightstand lights for ages with no luck. Sadly, Target royally botched their Canadian division:/

I don’t shop Target Online so I was completely unaware. Good catch - I agree.

Those “replicas” are really awful.

That one is awful. If you wanna copy, do it right!

I’ll admit 20 years ago as a design student I was pretty excited for the Michael Graves Target stuff. I still have some blue bulbous handled spatulas kicking around someplace.

It was a different time then and accessibility to design was pretty new. This was before DWR and before you could find a million knockoff Eames chairs direct from China online. You could actually still pickup vintage Eames in a thrift store for a few bucks back then.

That being said, at this point, I don’t really get the “diffusion” line by designers/brands at lower price points. It just becomes a cartoon of a style and the original design value is gone. The Michael Graves kettle at $50 or whatever is a perfect example. Looks like a knock off of the Alessi one (It’s OK. we got one as an Engagement gift and wasn’t my first choice - The Sapper one is much nicer), and the “fun” value mixed with the low quality just makes it no better than a cheap Hello Kittle or Disney Kettle. The Alessi one at least has an interesting dichotomy between price/quality and playfulness.

I think there’s lots of place for lower end price point designer stuff, but knocking off yourself as a designer I think is a losing game. You devalue your brand and the designer name means nothing to the audience.


Richard: I almost want to start another thread, how often are you excited by a design? After 17 years, I can’t remember the last time I was really fired up by a design, whereas it happened monthly in design school. Is it because of the ubiquity of design? Too much scar tissue from being inside the process? Is there less unique design today? I don’t know.

Well, when you were in design school you probably had very little exposure to design prior. Everything was new. You were a man in the desert given a glass of water! Now you live in the middle of a giant, clear fresh water lake of design… a glass of water isn’t as exciting anymore :slight_smile:

Trend wise I feel like minimalism has painted us into a bit of a corner. You see these little nostalgic weeds like “post-industrial steampunk” and even a little “Neo-pos-modernism” (especially in CMF) sprouting up, trying to get to something more expressive, but we aren’t quite there yet… and with all the issues facing the world maybe it seems a little less important, or at least less front and center?