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Massimo and Lella Vignelli

Massimo and Lella Vignelli

Italy (1931–2014, 1934–)

Massimo and Lella Vignelli were raised and educated in Italy, but they made their most significant contributions to design while working and living in the United States, where their work is seen daily by millions of subway riders and Bloomingdale’s shoppers.

They were born just 90 miles apart in Northern Italy, Lella in Udine into a family of architects, and Massimo in Milan, where he developed a fascination early on for the city’s architecture. They met while studying architecture at the University of Venice and married in 1957. Both went on to further study and work in the United States and they founded Vignelli Associates in 1972.

Lella focused her career on three-dimensional design (furniture, interiors, tableware) while Massimo gravitated toward two-dimensional work and the world of graphic design. But they were unified in the mantra “Design is One,” which became the title of their 2004 book. “The basic concept is that the discipline of design is one,” they wrote, “and if you can design one thing you can design everything.”

The notion of oneness extended to their personal and professional relationships as well, which were uncannily and seamlessly bound. “This book is affectionately dedicated to Lella, my wife and professional partner,” Massimo wrote in the Vignelli Canon, published in 2010. “Together we shared our intellectual experiences and growing process from the very beginning of our professional lives.”

Together, the Vignellis created work that is distinguished by clean, bold lines and a confident use of pure color. Among their most prominent work is directional signage for the New York and Washington, D.C., subway systems and for the Guggenheim Bilbao (Spain) Museum. And they created the famous Bloomingdale’s brown shopping bag and the store’s logo.

Massimo Vignelli

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