Remembering Massimo Vignelli
One of the world’s great designers, Massimo Vignelli, is very ill and will be spending his last days at home. His son Luca would like all those for whom Vignelli was either an influence or an inspiration to write him a letter. Please send your notes, letters, cards etc to:
130 East 67 Street
New York, New York 10021
Massimo Vignelli was born in Milan, Italy in January 1931. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest graphic/ industrial designers and architects of the 20th century. His modernist and “intellectually elegant” approach has had an immense influence on various disciplines of design, including graphic design, houseware design, furniture design, apparel design and architecture.
Vignelli studied architecture in Milan and Venice between 1950 and 1953. He started his early career working as a designer at Venini Glass in Venice. He married his long-time collaborator, Lella Valle, in 1957. Within a few months, they moved to the US. They were both on fellowships. Massimo went on to teach at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, and later joined Container Corporation of America as a designer.
Massimo became a founding member of Unimark International Corporation. He created visual identities for some of the world’s most popular companies, including American Airlines, J. C. Penney, Knoll Associates and Cinzano. He established his own design firm, Vignelli Associates, in New York in 1971.
Massimo famously created the graphics for the United States National Park Service in 1977, and the subway map for the MTA New York City Transit Authority in 1970. He has numerous awards and accolades, both national and international, to his credit and his work has been exhibited widely in various art galleries and museums throughout the world.
The computer is really like a pencil, you know. It used to be. The pencil can do anything you want to, but you have to do it, and the same is with the computer. It can do anything you want, but you have to do it. It’s a tool. And when it goes by itself, it’s a disaster because it’s a very seductive kind of tool. The pencil you leave it there, and it’s dead. It doesn’t do anything and it doesn’t move by itself. It doesn’t offer anything; it’s totally submissive to you. The computer needs… even by accident, offers incredible beautiful things that are very seductive. And if you forget about, or if you don’t have an idea to begin with, it is very easy to be seduced and that is not a good use of the computer. You know? So, that is the way it goes.