massimo vignelli is a graphic design legend

The Italian design legend, best known for developing a controversial version of the New York subway in the 1970s, died at the age of 83 at his home in New York. Working firmly in the tradition of modernism, vignelli strove for a design that is «visually powerful, intellectually elegant and above all, timeless» — the slogan for his New York design studio, vignelli associates, which he founded in 1971 with his wife, Lella.

«visually powerful, intellectually elegant and above all, timeless»

«If you can design one thing, you can design anything»

Vignelli lived by this principle: «If you can design one thing, you can design anything.» he was involved in shaping the visual and architectural landscape of the 20th century with various branding jobs for companies such as American airlines, ibm, Bloomingdale’s, design of warehouse, signage, books, furniture, exhibitions, interiors. he was as good at describing the philosophy of his design as he was at the design itself. his quotes are as elegant and clean as his visual work.

brief biographical background:

Vignelli was born in Milan in 1931. when he was young, he and his classmates had to leave school and hide in a bomb shelter. «I don’t know how I survived, » he told the epoch times newspaper in 2012. Vignelli noted his luck, believing that if he had been born in another generation, he would not have become a designer.

Vignelli became interested in design as a teenager after visiting the home of his mother’s friend, who was an interior designer. he could not fully believe that almost everything around was invented by an ordinary person and was fascinated by this idea. he began reading every design book and magazine he could find and sketch furniture design ideas in his room.

at the age of 16, he began studying and working for a local architect. since there were no design schools at the time, at the age of 18 he went to study architecture at the Polytechnic University in Milan and then at the University of Architecture in Venice.

Vignelli married in 1957, moved to New York in 1965, and opened his own studio, Vignelli Associates in 1971.


before death, the vignelli’s son, Luca, made a very touching and unusual statement so that everyone who was inspired by his father’s work would send him a letter. designers from all over the world sent letters of appreciation and gratitude to the man who was rightfully called the «grandfather of graphic design», and many of them posted letters on the Internet with the hashtag #dearmassimo. the outpouring of love and affection from so many designers is more worthy than the most prestigious awards.

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