Last night, Michael Graves officially kicked off HEALTHCARE DESIGN.09 with his powerful keynote address. The story of Graves is well documented: A successful architect and designer who was struck by a terrible illness and paralyzed from the waist down, Graves continued his work and became even more influential in the world of design. His story struck a chord with everyone in attendance and was the perfect way the open the conference.

Aside from his innovative wheelchair—that he playfully called an iBot wheelchair—capable of climbing stairs and riding on two wheels, Graves garnered people’s attention with insightful comments and a different perspective on the field. Most notably for me was his mantra, “None of us are experts, because it’s a new day every day.” Graves has, through unfortunate circumstances, been forced to see the world in a way that most have never viewed it. It’s through this lens that he sees every day as a new challenge and a way to learn.

Graves spoke of his history and experience, how he got to be where he is today, and the state of architecture and healthcare design. He was able to, once again, give an interesting perspective on the field because of his disability. His ability to see the environment and products from the view of designer and patient has given him a unique understanding of the field.