Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli, Vignelli Associates
New York, NY

SEGD Global Design Awards

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Vignelli Associates
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

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The Vignelli Canon, published by Lars Müller Publishers (image: book cover)
Articles referencing Massimo Vignelli: The Vignelli Canon

2001 SEGD Fellow

Massimo Vignelli 1931-2014

Massimo, born January 1931 in Milan, Italy was a designer who has done work in a number of areas ranging from package design to houseware design to furniture design to public signage to showroom design through Vignelli Associates, which he co-founded with his wife, Lella. Before Vignelli Associates he was a part of the fabled Unimark International Design organization. He has said, "If you can design one thing, you can design everything," and this is reflected in his broad range of work.

Massimo Vignelli works firmly within the Modernist tradition, and focuses on simplicity through the use of basic geometric forms in all his work.

"Massimo grew up in Milan. He studied architecture there and in Venice, where he describes being taught a generalist approach to design. I think this means that he turns everything he designs - from teaspoons to public transportation wayfinding systems - into gold. He applies intelligence and heart in a way that sets standards for all of us.
As we define an ever-expanding horizon for environmental graphic design and as we learn to apply our design abilities, I am happy to be part of our thanking Massimo Vignelli for showing the way." said Lance Wyman, when presenting Massimo with his SEGD Fellowship award.

Massimo Vignelli turned 83 in January 2014, has been practicing design in New York for nearly 50 years, during which time he has made a big impact on all forms of design, from graphic design, to furniture, to clothing. All the while he has steadfastly maintained his Modernist approach to all design problems. ‘We brought discipline to design,’ he claims. ‘We are systematic, logical and objective – not trendy. Trends kill the soul of design. Modernism took out all the junk, and postmodernism put it all back in.’ Read the Eye Magazinearticle on Massimo.

Read more about Lella and Massimo on Wikipedia

Don't miss a screening of "Design is One"a film about the Vignelli's at a venue near you.

See their work at Vignelli Associates

Listen to this interview with Massimo Vignellicare of Big Think.

Read the SEGD news announcement about Massimo's passing in May 2014 to see the tributes of his SEGD Fellows.

Massimo had been sick for quite some time and a few weeks before his passing Luca, his son, asked the design community to send Massimo a letter. The New York Times captured a beautiful tribute of Massimo reading some of the thousands of letters he received from the profession.


Massimo Vignelli, the NYC Subway and the Map

We recently discovered a treasure in the SEGD Archives: a recording of a 2004 SEGD teleconference presentation by Massimo Vignelli, FSEGD (1931-2014), on the design of his controversial New York subway map.

Not only is hearing Massimo's voice a treat, but he shares the basic concept of his New York Subway map design, its evolution and why he insisted on abstraction in spite of criticism. In the face of incredible complexity, he says, "We sifted out all the information which was not necessary."

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