Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Target ends longtime partnership with Michael Graves
After a fruitful 15-year collaboration, designer Michael Graves and retail giant Target are parting ways. Last week Target announced that Graves' latest line of designer products, to be unveiled in March, will be his final works for the Bullseye.
Graves has designed more than 2,000 consumer products - from toasters to watches to ironing boards - that were sold exclusively at Target stores. The famous pairing helped give Target a reputation for cheap chic that distinguished it from discount-store rivals like Walmart and Kmart. It also kicked off a series of partnerships with other noted designers.
Graves was already a celebrated architect and designer when Target approached him for a project that had nothing to do with retailing. Back in 1997, Target was lead corporate sponsor in the effort to renovate the Washington Monument. Target sought out Graves, who then designed an innovative and attractive scaffold system that became so popular during the renovation that some observers hoped it would remain. That success led to a another collaboration between the designer and retailer as Graves remade a series of everyday items, including a Pop Art Toaster, a Spinning Whistle Teakettle and even a toilet brush. The thought of a high-style toilet plunger drew plenty of snickers over the years, but Graves always liked the idea that everyday items could be stylish, too.
In more recent years, the novelty of Graves' work for Target has faded, and Target has introduced limited-time, high-profile deals with designers like Libery of London and Missoni that have extended to the housewares category. But the Graves collaboration gets credit for establishing a stylish new frontier in discount retailing.
"Michael Graves was Target's first and longest-standing design partner to date," said Stacia Andersen, Target's senior vice president of home, merchandising. "While this partnership is coming to an end, Target remains dedicated to bringing our guests innovative design in new and meaningful ways."
Shown here: Michael Graves Easyfill Tea Kettle, available on Target.com for $26.19.