Professor Tanya Geotz
May 3, 2021
Massimo Vignelli was an Italian Designer, born January 10, 1931 in Mulan, Italy. He worked on designs of various forms, which includes, package, houseware furniture, public signage, and showroom designs. He and his wife, Lella, are the cofounders of Vignelli Associates. He was one of the few people that created work that affected millions of lives, New York City subway signage being one of them. He was a modern artist meaning he created work that would best fit in the time period that he created them in.
One of Massimo Vignelli’s famous sayings was “If you can design one thing, you can design everything”. He then went on to prove his saying by opening “Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture” in the 1960s with his wife, Lella, where they created famous products such as “Heller Stacking Dishes” in 1964, and “Handkerchief Chair” in 1983.
In 1967 Vignelli’s design firm received an amazing opportunity to design the logo for American Airlines. He chose a to do a simplistic design with just the two A’s, a red and the other being blue. The client for this specific piece wanted something more to be added so he decided to add a geometric “x” shaped eagle in between the A’s. Adding the geometric “x” shaped eagle helped many to notice American Airlines by only seeing the simplistic logo.
Though Vignelli’s biggest commission was American Airlines, his favorite was Knoll International, another piece he was hired to work on. He was given the opportunity to create a logo for the then upcoming company, Knoll International, in 1967 after his project with American Airlines. He was hired to create the background, and the entire identity of the company. He was given the chance to decorate the logo, stationeries, brochures, and the advertisements. It’s really understandable as to why this project was his favorite, he was given the freedom to experiment as much as he wanted to to know how everything would work together.
In 1972, Vignelli designed one of his most famous pieces, “The Subway Map” which consisted of all boroughs except Staten Island. The map was created through his style of simplicity of colors and perfect lines while still having all the information that one would need while traveling throughout New York. Though this piece is one of his most popular ones, it was replaced in 1979 by the city. They recreated the map to look more geographically accurate while trying their best to keep the simplicity and style that Vignelli first created it to look.
Despite the thousands of typefaces during Vignelli’s time, he thought there wasn’t a reason he shouldn’t create one himself. So in 1989, Vignelli was inspired to create his own typeface. He created “Our Bodoni”, which consists of a variation of Bodoni and one of his favorite typefaces, Helvetica.