Massimo Vignelli has worked in a wide variety of areas, including interior design, environmental design, package design, graphic design, furniture design, and product design. His clients at Vignelli Associates have included high-profile companies such as IBM and American Airlines.
(born 1931 in Milan, Italy) is a designer who has done work in a number of areas ranging from package design to furniture design to public signage to showroom design through Vignelli Associates, which he co-founded with his wife, Lella. He has said, &quot;If you can design one thing, you can design everything,&quot; and this is reflected in his broad range of work. Vignelli works firmly within the Modernist tradition, and focuses on simplicity through the use of basic geometric forms in all of his work.
Vignelli was born in Milan in 1931; through his teenage years, he became enthralled with design and befriended many of the great architects of his day. (He sometimes says his youth was spent as an &quot;architecture groupie.&quot;) He went on to study architecture at the Politecnico di Milano and later at the Università di Architettura, Venice. From 1957 to 1960, Vignelli visited America on a fellowship, and returned to New York in 1966 to start the New York branch of a new company, Unimark International, which quickly became, both in scope and in sheer number of personnel, one of the largest design firms in the world. The firm went on to design many of the world's most recognizable corporate identities, including that of American Airlines (which forced him to incorporate the eagle, Massimo is always quick to point out). Vignelli also designed the iconic signage for the New York City Subway system during this period. In 1971, Massimo founded Vignelli Associates with his wife, Lella. Presently, Vignelli continues to work as a designer from Vignelli Associates' New York office. Vignelli was involved with filmmaker Gary Hustwit in the documentary Helvetica, about the typeface of the same name. Vignelli recently updated his 1972 New York City subway map.
(He sometimes says his youth was spent as an &quot;architecture groupie.&quot;) He went on to study architecture at the Politecnico di Milano and later at the Università di Architettura, Venice. The Politecnico di Milano was established in 1863 by a group of scholars and entrepreneurs belonging to prominent Milanese families. Its most eminent professors over the years have included the mathematician Francesco Brioschi (its first Director), Luigi Cremona, and Giulio Natta (Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963). The Politecnico di Milano is now ranked as one of the most outstanding European universities in Engineering, Architecture and Industrial Design, and in many disciplines is regarded as a leading research institution worldwide In Italy the term &quot;Politecnico&quot; means a state university consisting only of study programmes in Engineering and Architecture. The Politecnico di Milano is nowadays organised in 16 departments and a network of 9 Schools of Engineering, Architecture and Industrial Design spread over 7 campuses over the Lombardy region with a central administration and management. The 9 schools are devoted to education whereas the 16 departments are devoted to research. The educational policy of the Politecnico di Milano consists in offering different curricula tailored to the needs of its territory, which is considered one of most developed industrial areas in Europe. The number of students enrolled in all campuses is approximately 40,000, which makes the Politecnico di Milano the largest institution in Italy for Engineering, Architecture and Industrial Design.
Achille Castiglioni (Milan, 1918-2002) was a renowned industrial designer. He was often inspired by everyday things and made use of ordinary materials. He uses the minimal amount of materials while creating forms with a maximum effect.
From 1957 to 1960, Vignelli visited America on a fellowship, and returned to New York in 1966 to start the New York branch of a new company, Unimark International, which quickly became, both in scope and in sheer number of personnel, one of the largest design firms in the world. The firm went on to design many of the world's most recognizable corporate identities, including that of American Airlines (which forced him to incorporate the eagle, Massimo is always quick to point out). Vignelli also designed the iconic signage for the New York City Subway system during this period. Unimark and Vignelli structured corporations and government agencies with design systems that could be implemented by anyone who followed the design specifications. This principle worked. Soon Unimark grew to an international design firm with 402 employees and 48 design offices around the world. Their basic tools included the grid, and heavy use of the typeface, Helvetica, because it was considered to be the most legible type family. Other typefaces used were Bodoni, Garamond, Century Expanded, Times Roman, and Futura. Keeping with his classical roots, although a typeface may appear, &quot;modern&quot; it needs to reflect historical integrity. Vignelli's architectural background can be seen in his design work. There is a sense of order, stability, and building to it. His design systems were rational and with purpose. An example of this is the Unimark design program for Knoll Graphics. This program set the standard for furniture design for years to come. The principles of standardization, and wide possibilities for implementation were a big success. The goal was to deliver a product the client could implement effectively with other people. Designs were made so they could be used everywhere from the letterhead logo to billboards and more. &quot;According to Vignelli, three things are needed for effective design: discipline, appropriateness, and ambiguity. Discipline brings consistency and structure to a problem, relating parts to the whole; appropriateness is the quest for a specific and suitable solution to the problem; and ambiguity arises when two or more possible meanings tug at the mind.&quot;
Unimark International was an American design firm founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1964 by seven designers: Ralph Eckerstrom, Massimo Vignelli, James Fogelman, Wally Gutches, Larry Klein, Robert Moldafsky and Bob Noorda. Unimark filed for final Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1977. Although the firm was relatively short-lived, they had a key influence on the direction of American design aesthetics, and set a philosophical direction for corporate design that is still widely followed. Former Bauhaus faculty member, Herbert Bayer was an early member of the Board of Directors. The graphic style of Unimark's projects was decidedly modernist. Unimark rejected the idea of the designer-as-artist, embraced standardization and systems and pioneered the use of the grid as a tool for corporate communications. The font Helvetica was most often used by Unimark designers. The firm was an early specialist in designing corporate identity systems and branding. Clients included American Airlines, Ford Motor Company, Gillette, JC Penney, Knoll, and the New York Transit Authority who continue to use Unimark-created trademarks and graphic standards. With Unimark, he worked with the J.C. Penney Company to develop a comprehensive corporate identity program that in 1974 won an IDSA Special Award for the Advancement of Design.
In 1971, Massimo founded Vignelli Associates with his wife, Lella. Presently, Vignelli continues to work as a designer from Vignelli Associates' New York office. Vignelli was involved with filmmaker Gary Hustwit in the documentary Helvetica, about the typeface of the same name. Vignelli recently updated his 1972 New York City subway map.
Lella Vignelli was born in Udine, Italy. She received a degree from the School ofArchitecture, University of Venice, and became a registered architect in Milan in 1962. In 1958, she received a tuition fellowship as a special student at the School of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. In 1959, Ms. Vignelli joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Chicago, as juniordesigner in the interiors department. The following year, with Massimo Vignelli, she established the Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in Milan. In 1965,she became head of the interiors department for Unimark International Corporation in Milan and in New York (1966). In 1971, the Vignellis established Vignelli Associates, where Lella Vignelli was initially Executive Vice President, and is now Chief Executive Officer.Seven years later, they formed Vignelli Designs, a company dedicated to product and furniture design, of which she is President. Ms. Vignelli’s work is widely featured in design publications in the United Statesand abroad. Examples of her work have been included in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Montreal, and Die Neue Sammlung in Munich. The Vignellis’ work has been the subject of two feature-length television programs that have been televised worldwide. A monographic exhibition of the Vignellis’ work toured Europe between 1989 and 1993, and was featured in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Helsinki, London, Budapest,Barcelona, Copenhagen, Munich, Prague and Paris. LelIa Vignelli is a frequent speaker and juror for national and international design organizations. She is a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AlGA), the International Furnishings and Designer Association (IFDA), and the Decorators Club of New York. Ms. Vignelli has been the recipient of many awards including: 1982, Honorary Doctorates from the Parsons School of Design, New York. 1994, Corcoran School of Art, Washington D.C. 1973, American Institute of Architects (AlA) Industrial Arts Medal. 1983, AlGA Gold Medal. 1988, Interior Design Hall of Fame. 1991, National Arts Club Gold Medal for Design. 1992, Interior Product Designers Fellowship of Excellence. 1995, Brooklyn Museum Design Award for Lifetime Achievement. 2003, the National Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Museum of Design at Cooper-Hewitt, New York. 2004, the Visionary Award from the Museum of Art and Design, New York. 2005, Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY.
A real Corporate Identity is based on an overall system approach, not just a logo. A logo gradually becomes part of our collective culture; in its modest way it becomes part of all of us. Think of Coca Cola, think of Shell, or, why not, AmericanAirlines. When a logo has been in the public domain for more than fifty years it becomes a classic, a landmark, a respectable entity and there is no reason to throw it away and substitute it with a new concoction, regardless of how well it has been designed. Perhaps, because I grew up in a country where history and vernacular architecture were part of culture of the territory and was protected, I considered established logos something to be equally protected. The notion of a logo equity has been with us from the very beginning of time. When we were asked to design a new logo for the FORD Motor Company,we proposed a light retouch of the old one which could be adjusted for contemporary applications. We did the same for CIGA HOTELS, CINZANO, LANCIA Cars and others. There was no reason to dispose of logos that had seventy years of exposure, and were rooted in people’s consciousness with a set of respectable connotations. What is new is NOT a graphic form but a way of thinking, a way of showing respect for history in a context that usually has zero understanding for these values.
For the design of a book the grid provides again structure and continuity from cover to cover. In a picture book, according to the content, the grid could have a number of columns and sub-columnsto organize the information accordingly. In agreement with the content the size of the book will be the first thing to be determined. A book with square pictures will be square, a book with rectangular pictures will be rectangular or oblong, in accord with the most appropriate way to exhibit the material. The content determines the container - a basic truth also in book design. It is a good practice to relate the grid to the proportion of the majority of pictures, so that there will be the least need for cropping their images. Today photographers are more careful about the composition of their images, so the grid should be devised to take that in proper consideration. By structuring the grid accordingly the book will have a higher level of integrity than otherwise.