Massimo Vignelli and Lella at the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection with a specimen of his typeface, Our Bodoni.
|Education||Politecnico di Milano|
|Occupation||Graphic Designer, Industrial Designer, Architect|
|Organization||Vignelli Associates, Unimark International|
Massimo Vignelli (born January 1931 in Milan, Italy) is 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. He has said, "If you can design one thing, you can design everything," and this is reflected in his broad range of work.
Vignelli works firmly within the Modernist tradition, and focuses on simplicity through the use of basic geometric forms in all of his work.
As a teenager, he became enthralled with design and befriended many of the great architects of his day. (He sometimes says his youth was spent as an "architecture groupie.") He went on to study architecture at the Politecnico di Milano and later at the Università di Architettura, Venice.
From 1957 to 1960, Vignelli visited America on a fellowship, and returned to New York in 1966 to start the New York branch of a new company, Unimark International, which quickly became, in scope and personnel, one of the largest design firms in the world. The firm went on to design many of the world's most recognizable corporate identities, including that of American Airlines (which forced him to incorporate the eagle, Massimo is always quick to point out). Vignelli designed the iconic signage for the New York City Subway system during this period, and the intriguing but controversial 1970s-80s map of the system. Contrary to news reports and lore,[who?] Vignelli did not design the Washington, DC Metro Map, which was designed by Lance Wyman and Bill Cannan. Vignelli designed the simple signage and wayfinding system for the DC Metro and was the one to suggest that it be named "Metro" like many other capital city subways. Its original name was a mishmash of various states and transportation groups.
In 1971, Massimo resigned from Unimark, in part because the design vision which he supported became diluted as the company diversified and increasingly stressed marketing, rather than design. Soon after, Massimo and Lella Vignelli founded Vignelli Associates. He and his wife continue to work from their New York office.
Massimo Vignelli has worked in a wide variety of areas, including interior design, environmental design, package design, graphic design, furniture design, and product design. His clients at Vignelli Associates have included high-profile companies such as IBM, Knoll, Bloomingdale's and American Airlines.
Vignelli participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007, as well as publishing the book, Vignelli: From A to Z, which contains a series of essays describing the principles and concepts behind "all good design". It is alphabetically organized by topic, roughly approximating a similar course he has taught at Harvard's School of Design and Architecture.
In January 2009, Vignelli released The Vignelli Canon as a free e-book; an expanded version was printed in September 2010, but the original remains available for download on the Vignelli Associates website. In the introduction Vignelli writes, "I thought that it might be useful to pass some of my professional knowledge around, with the hope of improving [young designers'] design skills. Creativity needs the support of knowledge to be able to perform at its best."
Vignelli worked with the National Park Service and the design staff at the Harpers Ferry Center in creation of the "Unigrid System." The system has been used since 1977 in creation of park brochures in all national parks locations.
Vignelli Center for Design Studies 
Massimo and Lella Vignelli agreed to donate the entire archive of their design work in 2008 to the Rochester Institute of Technology, near Rochester, New York. The archive will be exhibited in a new building designed by Lella and Massimo Vignelli, to be known as The Vignelli Center For Design Studies. The building, which opened in September 2010, includes among its many offerings exhibition spaces, classrooms, and offices.
“The Vignelli Center for Design Studies will house our comprehensive archive of graphic design, furniture and objects,” said Vignelli. “Under the direction of R. Roger Remington, the Vignelli Distinguished Professor of Design at RIT, the center will foster studies related to Modernist design with programs and exhibitions on our work as well as other related subjects. The first one of its kind and size, The Vignelli Center will position RIT on the international forefront of design studies. Lella and I are delighted to see our dream taking shape.”
- 1964 - Gran Premio Triennale di Milano
- 1964 - 1998 Compasso d’Oro, from (ADI), Italian Association for Industrial Design
- 1973 - Industrial Arts Medal of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- 1982 - New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame
- 1982 - Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design, New York
- 1983 - AIGA Gold Medal
- 1985 - first Presidential Design Award, presented by President Ronald Reagan, for the National Park Service Publications Program
- 1987 - Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
- 1988 - Interior Design Hall of Fame.
- 1988 - Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
- 1991 - National Arts Club Gold Medal for Design
- 1992 - Interior Product Designers Fellowship of Excellence
- 1993 - New York State Governor’s Award for Excellence
- 1994 - Honorary Doctorate in Architecture from the University of Venice, Italy
- 1994 - Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Corcoran School of Art, Washington D.C.
- 1995 - Brooklyn Museum Design Award for Lifetime Achievement
- 1996 - Honorary Royal Designer for Industry Award, Royal Society of Arts, London
- 2000 - Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California
- 2002 - Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
- 2003 - National Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Museum of Design at Cooper-Hewitt, New York
- 2004 - Visionary Award from the Museum of Art and Design, New York
- 2005 - Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY
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- Pagan Kennedy (December 7, 2012). "Who Made That Subway Signage?". The New York Times Sunday Magazine. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- Alice Rawsthorn (August 5, 2012). "The Subway Map That Rattled New Yorkers". The New York Times. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
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- The Vignelli Canon. "The Vignelli Canon (9783037782255): Massimo Vignelli: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- Vignelli, Massimo (January 2009). The Vignelli Canon (PDF).
- "Brochures History". National Park Service.
- "RIT Holds Groundbreaking for Vignelli Center for Design Studies on Oct 7". Rochester Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on 2012-02-28.
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- , Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum http://cooperhewitt.org/NDA/WINNERS/2003/LIFETIMEACHIEVEMENT/VIGNELLI/1.shtml Missing or empty
- "American Academy of Arts and Letters - 2005 Architecture Awards Press Release". Artsandletters.org. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (August 2012)|
- "Vignelli Associates".
- "Awards". Vignelli Associates.
- "Visions of Massimo Vignelli (list of video interviews)". Stock Exchange of Visions.
- "Top results for Massimo Vignelli". Interior Design.[dead link]
- "Profile of Massimo and Leila Vignelli". Designweek.[dead link]
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- "Vignelli's New York Subway map". Designobserver.[dead link]
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- "massimo vignelli of vignelli associates (interview)". designboom. 21 May 2006.
- Ambasz, Emilio (1982). "1982 HALL OF FAME: MASSIMO VIGNELLI". Art Directors Club.
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- Purcell, Kerry William (2009). "An Interview with Massimo Vignelli". Grafik Magazine (181).