Massimo Vignelli and his partner in life and in design, Lella Vignelli, are both Italians who have pursued much of their careers in the United States, while maintaining strong ties to Europe. Massimo Vignelli studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano from 1950 to 1953 and later trained at the Universita di Architetttura, Venice. His first professional position was as a designer of glassware for Venini, and from 1958 to 1960 he taught design at the Institute of Design, Chicago, while his wife, Lella Vignelli worked for architects, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.
In 1960, the couple returned to Milan and founded the Lella and Massimo Vignelli Office for Design and Architecture. Four years later, Massimo began creating graphics for the Container Corporation of America, and designed its new logo. In 1965, with Bob Noorda and Jay Doblin he founded Unimark International, a design consultancy originally based in Milan. The Vignellis, however, soon moved to America and in 1966 Unimark established a New York office, specializing in corporate identity.
In 1971, Vignelli Associates was established in New York and subsequently designed corporate identity programs for Knoll, American Airlines, Bloomingdales, Xerox, Lancia, Cinzano, and Ford Motors. The company also designed glassware for Venini, Steuben and Sasaki, and showrooms for Artemide and Hauserman. Vignelli also turned his attention to designing furniture for Sunar, Rosenthal, Morphos and Knoll, including the well-known Handkerchief Chair and Paper Clip table for Knoll. The Vignelli's are extremely versatile designers whose work is distinguished by clean, bold lines and a confident use of pure color. There is little that they have not conceived and executed, including directional signage for the New York and Washington, D.C. subway systems and for the Guggenheim Bilbao, Museum in Bilbao, Spain designed by architect Frank O. Gehry.