28 June 2014

An homage to Massimo Vignelli recently passed away in New York City

Massimo Vignelli

An homage to Massimo Vignelli 
recently passed away in New York City

Eminent graphic designer, refined and educated, excellent exponent of our time, he became famous for the help given to his fellow citizens to orient themselves in the Big Apple. He realized a New York subway map of the year 1970-71, an icon of the city which would be revisited by others on several occasions.

Some examples of graphic design realized in their studio in New York by Lella and Massimo Vignelli , for Knoll International, for Heller, for the New York subway, for American Airlines, for Blumingdale

Massimo Vignelli was a man and artist of upright character: never a compromise, a weakness or a deviation from the beliefs leading his thoughts and actions. He was born in Milan but it didn’t take long for him to understand that New York was the city he wanted to be adopted by. However, he always loved and missed Milan, where he had built strong relationships with the main leading cultural figures of the city: Gae Aulenti, Vittorio Gregotti, Aldo Rossi, Maldonado...and Mies, whose charisma left a strong impact on him forever.

Some industrial design creations realized by Lella and Massimo Vignelli studio for Poltrona Frau

He was still young when he met Lella, the woman who would become his wife and business partner. Together they went to Massachusetts for the first job assignments and then to New York, where his first success was sealed by the prestigious project of a subway network in the early 70’s. With this first breakthrough, they became well-known for an essential, easy graphic, aimed at an immediate and broadly understandable communication, a “timeless” image. The posters picturing his multicolored network became widely reproduced thank to their originality.

 Some objects designed by Lella and Massimo Vignelli studio for Heller 

Vignelli’s work became a synonim for practicality, rapidity, simplicity, but also elegance, style and beauty. Deeply linked to the essential and minimalist style of modern architecture, which was represented in the graphic field by Albe Steiner, Max Uber, but also Thomas Maldonado, his work became soon identified with the very city in which it was produced, New York, an icon of immediacy and modernity. A young, speedy city. Loved by many for this reason. And in this very city, at the Italian Cultural Institute, a big exhibition about Vignelli was held. Its title “Timelessness” perfectly summarized the timeless, high-quality world represented by their work. Massimo Vignelli never thought design could change the world, but he strongly believed it could make life better.

 Some projects of Lella and Massimo Vignelli Studio for the publishing industry

Massimo Vignelli’s work, and that of his wife, ranged from graphic to industrial design, frequently encompassing interior design as well. Among the most important collaborations are that with Knoll International and Poltrona Frau, whose results were true masterpieces perfectly in line with the essential features of their art.

Lella and Massimo Vignelli, interior furniture in Saint Peter’s Church at Citicorp Center, New York

Vignelli’s motto “Design is one” means that if you can draw an object it means you can face any problem and draw a thousand others. Quality is varied, but once you catch it your pencil can apply it to the whole world.


 Lella and Massimo Vignelli

Enrico Mercatali
Lesa (Lake Maggiore - Italy), 28th May 2014
Republished in english on June 28 2014
(translated from italian by Penelope Mirotti)

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