Michael Graves

Michael Grave

  • Michael Graves, FAIA,* honored by Contract Magazine, with the Legend Award at their 2013 Interiors Awards, said in the article, Reflecting on the Legacy of a Legend of Design,** the April 2015 issue, “I’m very anxious in my own work to build up a life of experiences that are positive and get rid of the negative ones. And so, that idea of the practice of architecture for me is the fine-tuning of one’s aesthetic.” Graves died at his Princeton, New Jersey home on March 12, at age 80, after spending more than a decade in a wheelchair. Although he was paralyzed from the chest down and wheelchair-bound following a spinal cord infection in 2003, he continued leading his design firm and lecturing in a long career fine-tuning his approach to design. I remember as a student of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, attending his lectures and panel discussions about his work. To me, Graves, a brilliant architect, was infallible. Reading about his passing was shocking.
Michael with one of his teapots

Michael with one of his teapots (I gifted this one to my cousin Yael, for her wedding)

Based on my client poll, almost all agree that the kitchen is the core of the home, a gathering place. Architect and designer Michael Grave’s philosophy rated the kitchen a workplace that is symbolic of the family. Graves changed how we see artifacts designed for domestic use, as his tea kettles and fabrics for Target and artifacts for JC Penny depict. He said in a 2003 article for the Miele Resource Group Design Forum, “In my residential projects, I emphasize the quality of “domesticity,” which for me combines my interest in culture with the design of physical artifacts. Nowhere is this more important than in the kitchen. The kitchen is a source of sustenance, warmth and camaraderie. We, and the artifacts we use, should be equally comfortable in the home.

Graves other teapot for Target (same as in the photo with MG)

Graves other teapot for Target. Same as in the photo with MG above.


For example, in our own designs for kitchen tools, we keep both the hand and the machine in mind.” In plain language that means use tools that work well and look great.

MG teapot (he designed both here) I gave the other one a wedding gift to my cousin Yael.

MG teapot, this one is on my stove, looking elegant. When it whistles, it comes out that little brown bird in the spout  on the right. Do you see me at the bottom?

Graves said in the 2003 article that he sees increasing value being placed on the ability to customize residences around lifestyle choices. He expects the future to bring new and exciting selections of well-designed systems and individual designs for houses in their entirety as well as for rooms, furnishings and artifacts based on how one wants to live.” Since the kitchen is the functional and symbolic heart of the house, it has become the forefront of this movement.

Kitchens connect the pieces of the home, as well as the people using the home. Le Corbusier said, “A home is a machine to live in.” Can you see the similarity between the kitchen, as a machine to run the home, to Le Corbusier’s, a home is a machine to live in? Have you kept up with technology? Is your home designed well and does it function for your comfort? Have you brought the outside in, and have you brought the inside out? Do you use LED lamping (bulbs), have you installed solar roof panels? In 2003, some of this power saving technology was only a dream.

Michael Graves, you were here long enough to see those things happen. For one of my architectural genius’s, he has accomplished much, influenced many, changed lives for all. Long ago, I stayed at the then brand new Swan Hotel and did a report about it for my criticism program at Parsons. I am thinking about reporting on the Swan next week. No promises though.


*Fellow of the American Institute of Architects

**By John Czarnecki, Assoc. AIA, Hon. IIDA
Editor in Chief

To read more about the article and Michael Graves, click here: Contract Magazine




1990 William’s funhouse

Same Gallery . . .Gallery 270 in Englewood, NJ, as my last Why Photography blog a couple of weeks ago. What makes photography so wonderful is, we get to experience the manipulation of an image through the artist’s eye using a camera, rather than a paintbrush, or other methodology.
In this case by photographer Michael Massaia.

According to Tom Gramegna, Director of the Gallery:

“It is commonly accepted that much of who we become as adults is often dictated by the indelible experiences we have in the formative years of our youth” writes Gallery 270 director Tom Gramegna about Michael Massaia’s current show “Scenes From A Childhood”

When we were young, most of us “experienced moments where we felt isolated, alone, with an inability to connect with reality”.  Michael has used those experiences to push the envelope and come up with  photography seen as an art not seen before.


Hello Kitty Neopolitan

Neapolitan Sandwich



Screen-shot-2013-10-17-at-12.02.02-PM-150x150 10982623_10152717291608021_9126338918085716084_n Screen-shot-2013-10-17-at-12.03.36-PM-150x150pinball

In the rides and attractions of the Jersey Shore, seen by millions, there is a longing for simpler times evidenced by Michael’s analog pinball machines and in the simple recognition of the “whimsical and cosmic beauty” found in a melting ice-pop.

Michael is passionate about doing original work that has never been accomplished before. His photography is self taught. He controls the process and does not use Photoshop to alter or touch up his work. He creates his prints in multiple sizes, surfaces and techniques. His hauntingly beautiful and groundbreaking photographs are surprisingly affordable given the huge time and effort just one print takes for the artist to produce.”

The show at Gallery 270, Tom Gramegna, Director, runs until May 2, 2015, 10 N. Dean St. Englewood, NJ 201-871-4113. Call the gallery for prices.

Tom also has a fabulous camera store Bergen County Camera. Everything you ever wanted in a camera is there, plus an amazing, knowledgeable staff.
270 Westwood Avenue, Westwood, NJ 07675, 201-664-4113×202

Contact and website info:


Do you enjoy/love photography? What’s your opinion? Let’s let Tom know what you think.



Puritan's ships

Puritan’s ships

According to history, about one thousand people embarked for their new home during the year 1630, the first of the eleven years of the “great Puritan migration.” During the time that Charles I attempted to govern England without parliament, nearly twenty thousand men, women, and children were transported to the shores of New England. They went with the idea of establishing churches in which they might worship in the way they preferred.

West Kirby, England the beach

West Kirby, England the beach

When Richard Harrison Sr. was told he could not worship as he pleased, he pondered, planned and paid a tidy sum to remove himself and his family from a land of prejudice. He packed their minimum and walked away from where he, his wife, Sarah Yorke, and his five children were all born, the town of West Kirby, England.

West Kirby, England storm on the coast

West Kirby, England storm on the coast

They would take one of the ships of the Puritans, on 22 June 1635 to the new world. The Harrison children were Richard Jr. born 1620, Thomas, born 1626, John, Samuel, Mary. It was not  long on the ship before the playful children distracted travelers from the difficulties of crowding, unsanitary conditions and unpalatable food.

Maplewood, New Jersey cemetery

Maplewood, New Jersey cemetery

The Harrisons came to New Haven, Connecticut, and then made their way to Branford, Connecticut, where they founded the town in 1644. The original house is gone, but the one built in the eighteenth century still stands on Main Street as a museum. There is a library in the house with the history of the family written by a Captain Thomas Harrison, who fought in the Civil War. At the end of his writing, he wrote that he hoped someone would continue recording the history of the Harrisons. That is what Gertrude Harrison Claus, born 1910, has done. At the age of one hundred and one, she was remarkable–still healthy, happy, and sharp. She went home to her maker in 2011. She was Mom to me and to her children. Everyone else called her Trudi, short for Gertrude. Trudi was my role model, a liberated, Christian woman. I miss her smile, her love, and her interest in our lives.

Plume House, Broad Street, Newark, NJ typical 1725-1730

Typical house of the era in Newark, NJ  1725-1730

One of the brothers, Richard Harrison Jr. and possibly, his sister Mary, left CT for New Jersey. Richard founded Neworke, now Newark, New Jersey. Richard married Sarah Hubbard, had 8 children and became one of 11 founders of Newark, NJ in 1667 and a patentee in 1675. In 1668, he was
one of 6 Newark agents who negotiated its boundary with Elizabeth, NJ. He also was an original town committee member and town surveyor. Newark was founded after 6 years of communication with Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam. There is a plaque in the center of town with Richard Harrison’s name as the founder. I saw the plaque. Richard’s children with his wife Sarah Hubbard had six children, Joseph, born1649, Samuel, born 1652, Benjamin, born 1655, George, born 1658, Daniel, born 1661, and Mary, born 1664.

Skagway Presbyterian Church, Alaska. Founded by Norman B. Harrison c. 1896

Skagway Presbyterian Church, Alaska. Founded by Norman B. Harrison c. 1898

There is more about the family. Tom’s grandfather, Norman B. Harrison, took his organ, his wife and his children to Skagway, Alaska, in 1898 and founded the Presbyterian Church there. Mom Trudi and our friends Jean and El visited a some years ago and verified they saw his name on a plaque. Later, he came back to the homeland to the state of Washington and founded the

University Presbyterian Church, Seattle, WA Founded by Norman B. Harrison

University Presbyterian Church, Seattle, WA Founded by Norman B. Harrison

University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. The church is still there. Norman’s writings were about different books of the Bible. I treasure the “The End. Re-Thinking the Revelation”, signed by him to his daughter Gertrude Harrison Claus, on December 15, 1954.

Trudi’s brother, Everett Harrison, was one of the founders of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He too wrote books about the Bible and like his father Norman, was a scholar.  For anyone that knows Princeton Theological Seminary, Norman B. Harrison’s name is on the cornerstone.

Thomas Harrison Claus

Thomas Harrison Claus

Trudi Harrison Claus and her son Thomas Harrison Claus, both direct decedents of Richard Harrison Jr. and Mary Harrison, scoured cemeteries in New Jersey. Tom said they found ancestors in a cemetery in West Caldwell, NJ. We never looked in Connecticut. I would like to do that, amidst the beautiful fall foliage.

Another bit of information—Thomas Harrison Claus’s father, Wilbur Claus, a biochemist, discovered Cheerio’s for General Mills, and Tom, also a biochemist, discovered a drug for type 2 diabetes, but it never got to the market.

Tom has three brothers, diluting the Harrison name with Claus, and so it goes. We lose all the Harrisons’ in marriages and births. It becomes almost impossible to find all the linkages. But Mom Trudi said the early Harrisons’ married Smiths, Baldwins, Pearsons’ and others. And by the way, we were told that this end of the Harrison’s are connected to William and his nephew Benjamin Harrison, America’s past presidents.

Should anyone be interested in touching base with me about the Harrison Heritage, just leave a comment with your contact info, and I will get back to you.

First Presbyterian Church of Skagway is the home of God’s disciples who

Skagway, Alaska

Skagway, Alaska

are called to follow Christ in this unique Alaska setting by living out their mission statement: “As children of God we embrace our call to share the Good News of the Gospel through worship, fellowship and open doors providing a nurturing environment as we grow in Christ and minister to our greater community.”

African Children's Choir performance at Skagway Presbyterian Church

African Children’s Choir performance at Skagway Presbyterian Church

African Children’s choir: The choir performed three times in Skagway during this past Labor Day weekend -. at the First Presbyterian Church, at the Skagway School. All concerts are free admission. There are CDs available. The African Children’s Choir™ is made up of some of the neediest and most vulnerable children in their countries. Many have lost one or both parents to poverty or disease. The African Children’s Choir™ helps these children break away from the everyday cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Before being selected to join the Choir, children, generally aged between 7 and 11 attend Music for Life camps. These camps are fun and stimulating environments that provide a break from the daily hardships the young children face at home. Children selected to tour will spend approximately five months at the Choir Training Academy in Kampala, Uganda. Here the children learn the songs and dances, attend school, play and attend Sunday School at a local church. Check out their website: http://www.africanchildrenschoir.com/ for more information.

So, Captain Thomas Harrison, who wrote in that Branford book was an ancestor and related to my husband Thomas Harrison Claus.

Any Harrison’s around that are direct descendents of the Richard Harrison Jr. of Newark, NJ?




Harrison House, Branford, CT

Harrison House, Branford, CT

It an amazing story of Providence and the skill of English seamen that dozens of Atlantic ocean passages were made in little wooden ships bringing our Puritan ancestors to America almost without mishap in the 1630’s; the unhappy exception being the harrowing story of the Angel Gabriel, 1635, which met a terrible storm and cast up on the coast of Maine with only a few survivors.

There were perhaps 30,000 emigrants from England to New England before the English Civil War. These folks were mainly from the English middle-class, self-reliant and motivated to find a place where they might live, worship, and raise their families without government harassment. This movement of people is called the Great Migration.

Their motivation was religious, political, and economic. The British church and government was becoming insufferably hierarchical, tyrannical, and tax-hungry. Common resentment among the English people led soon to the English Revolution beginning in 1642, and eventually to the beheading of King Charles for treason in 1649, after agents intercepted his secret invitations to foreign kings and armies, that they invade England, crush Parliament and the English Constitution, massacre his English opponents, and restore Charles to his pretended Dei gratia royal privileges. Charles Stuart continued incorrigibly to hold his dynastic interest separate and above those of Parliament and the British people, and ultimately Parliament had no alternative but to end his conspiracies with an axe.

kingcharlesKing Charles I of England

Son of James and Anne. A well-intentioned knave, he was captivated by his Catholic bride Henriette-Marie, who led him to treason and death, and all England to civil war.

The Great Migration ended at the start of the English Civil War. Then for a time in the 1640’s was hope rekindled in the people that they might live in liberty in England, and the flow of emigrants ceased, in fact reversed. Many brave New Englishmen and their sons returned to fight in England to uphold Parliament and the Commonwealth. The true history of the British Commonwealth has been an unwelcome topic in Britain since the restoration of monarchy, 1661. But that is another story…


The migration included over 1500 persons from England to New England during the years 1632-1635. I found the name Harrison on a passenger list, who with his family headed east from New Haven, Connecticut and helped to settle Branford in 1644.

My hubby, Thomas Harrison Claus has lots of Harrison descendants here from abroad. As noted above, the Harrison’s were included in the migration and came over on one of the Puritan’s ships from Darby, England, and boy did they rock the boat. They raised their children who spread their wings and founded Newark, New Jersey. We were bowled over when we saw Richard Harrison’s name on a plaque in Newark as a founder. And there was a cemetery in Essex Fells, New Jersey that had interred many of the Harrisons’.

CaptainThomas Harrison (one of them-there were many)

Captain Thomas Harrison Branford, Connecticut

So, who was this Captain Thomas Harrison?

It’s a fantasy . . . . When we told my hubby’s mother we were moving to Connecticut from New Jersey, she mentioned the Harrison’s lived there generations ago. There it was, the Harrison house, well preserved right on Main Street in Branford as a antique home and museum, open to public for tours. But the best part was the library of the family right there on a bookcase in the kitchen. And it had the writings of a Captain Thomas Harrison who had the last entry in the late 19th century, ending with, “I hope someone will continue the Harrison history.”

Now, I have more about this Captain Thomas Harrison, but you’ll have to come back next week to hear the rest of the story.

Do you know anything about Captain Thomas Harrison?

Pin It on Pinterest