Massimo Vignelli designer of subway maps to corporate logos

Massimo Vignelli was an Italian graphic, industrial, interior, and furniture designer. He was born in Milan. He was professionally active in Milan, New York, and Chicago. Vignelli was an acclaimed graphic designer who created a modernist vision with book covers, furniture, corporate logos and even the New York City subway map.

Massimo Vignelli bio photo
Massimo Vignelli bio photo

Education

Between 1950-53, he studied architecture, at the Politecnico di Milano and 1953-57, at the Universita di Architettura, Venice.

Biography

1958-60, he taught at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. In 1960, the Vignellis settled in Milan and set up the Lella and Massimo Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture. In 1965 in Chicago he co-founded Unimark International a design firm with offices worldwide.

Massimo Vignelli and his wife Leila, an architect, were considered a husband and wife team credited with introducing restrained, European fashion and taste in America in the 1970s.

1966-71 having moved to New York he was active in the design office he established there. During this time corporate identity programs were designed for American Airlines, Knoll, Ford, and others, and signage

for the New York City and Washington DC subway systems.

In 1971, the Vignellis set up the design firm Vignelli Associates in New York with a staff of designers. He became a member of ADI (Associazione per ii Disegno Industriale). The Vignellis work included corporate identity programs for Xerox. Lancia, Cinzano.

Bloomingdale’s, USA National Parks Services Publications, andInternational Design Center of New York. He did book design for Chanticleer Press, Rizzoli, and Fodor Travel Guides.

Summary of Works

Graphic formats for magazines Architectural Record, American Ceramics. Opposition, A+U Zodiac, and others: graphics for Knoll.

New York City Subway Map
Massimo Vignelli New York City Subway Map

Diversity of Work

  • Glassware for Venini and Steuben; and
  • silverware for San Lorenzo and Calegaro. His designs included the
  • 1964 Saratoga chair and sofa for Poltronova.
  • 1966 logos for True Cigarette,
  • 1964-71 furniture for Poltronova, from
  • 1987 furniture for Poltrona Frau,
  • 1971 furniture for Sunar,
  • 1974 interiors at the Minneapolis Institute of Fine Arts.
  • 1975 interior designs for St. Peter’s Church in New York,
  • 1972 shopping bag for Bloomingdale’s department store.
  • 1972-87 showrooms worldwide of Artemide.
  • 1974 and 1990 jewellery for San Lorenzo,
  • 1979 furniture for Rosenthal.
  • 1979 goblets and flatware produced by Venini for Ciga Hotels,
  • 1979 Acom chair and Rotunda for Sunar,
  • 1979 shopping bag for Saks Fifth Avenue store,
  • 1981 showrooms of Hauserman in Chicago,
  • 1985 Serenissimo table for Acerbis, 1985 jewellery for Cleta Munari.
  • 1985-87 ceramics, flatware, and glassware for Sasaki,
  • 1982-87 Handkerchief chair (produced from 1991, designed with David B. Law) by Knoll,
  • 1990 Magie illuminated coffee table created by Morphos, and
  • 1993 range of crystal vessels by Steuben.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Mallard Press. (1991). The illustrated dictionary of 20th century designers.

Additional Reading

Ambasz, E. (Ed.). (1972). Italy: The new domestic landscape: Achievements and problems of Italian design (No. 15). New York Graphic Society Books.Bosoni, G. (2008). Italian design. MoMA.

Burigana, A., & Ciampi, M. (2006). Italian designers at home. Seagull Books.

Calefato, P. (2021). Fashion as Cultural Translation: Signs, Images, Narratives. United Kingdom: Anthem Press.

Celant, G., & Strauss, C. (2020). Radical: Italian Design 1965-1985: The Dennis Freedman Collection. The Museum of Fine Arts.

Ciampi, M., Burigana, A. (2006). Italian Designers at Home. United Kingdom: Antique Collectors Club Limited.

Gnoli, S., Bowles, H. (2020). The World of Federico Forquet: Italian Fashion, Interiors, Gardens. United States: Rizzoli International Publications, Incorporated.

Hunt, J. D. (Ed.). (1996). The Italian Garden: Art, Design and Culture. Cambridge University Press.

Lazzaro, C., & Lieberman, R. (1990). The Italian Renaissance garden: from the conventions of planting, design, and ornament to the grand gardens of sixteenth-century Central Italy (p. 826). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Lees-Maffei, G., & Fallan, K. (2014). Made in Italy rethinking a century of Italian design. Bloomsbury.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

More Italian Designers

  • Carlo Bugatti (1855-1940) Italian designer and furniture maker

    Carlo Bugatti Italian designer

    Carlo Bugatti was a leading figure in Italy’s design and decorative arts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bugatti is perhaps best known for his exotic, handmade furniture designs. Many of the 19th century’s progressive developments, notably the British Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau, influenced his work. Read More →

  • Aldo Cibic self-taught Italian architect and designer

    Aldo Cibic, Belvedere console, 1982

    Aldo Cibic is a self-taught architect, designer, researcher, environmentalist and humanist. He was born in Vicenza and professionally active in Milan.Read More →

  • Vittorio Gregotti (1927- 2020 ) Italian architect, designer, design historian

    Vittorio Gregotti

    Vittorio Gregotti (1927- 2020) was an important Italian architect, designer, design historian, theorist and critic, Gregotti was the editor of several leading Italian design journals. He graduated in architecture from Milan Polytechnic in 1952. He spent his lifetime working in the field as a practitioner, academic, and writer.Read More →

  • Bruno Gecchelin (b.1939) Italian Architect-Designer

    Bruno Gecchelin Lamp

    Beginning his professional career in 1962, he worked for many major firms; designed lighting for O-Luce, furniture for Busnelli and Frau, refrigerators and gas stoves for Indesit, glassware for Venini, items for Skipper and Fratelli Guzzini, 1989 Atelier 75 range of four kitchen utensils, and 1987β€”88 Shuttle range of track lighting. Read More →

  • Ignazio Gardella (1905 – 1999) Italian Architect-Designer

    Pair of rare model _P10_ armchairs by Ignazio Gardella

    Ignazio Gardella began working on architectural projects in Alessandria in 1929, including the Dispensario Antitubercolare (1929-1930), which is regarded as an example of Italian Rationalism, and the Laboratorio Provinciale di Igiene. He was laying the groundwork for his future career as an architect.Read More →

  • Aldo Rossi (1931 – 1997) Italian designer and architect

    Aldo Rossi featured image

    Aldo Rossi (1931 – 1997) was an Italian architect. He was born and professionally active in Milan. He is considered by many to be the greatest Italian architect of the second half of the 20th century. His life as an architect began with Gardella and Zanuso. Read More →

  • Mezzadro Chair – a nod to Italian Agriculture

    Mezzadro Chair

    Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni were not the first twentieth-century designers to consider the tractor seat in relation to sophisticated furniture production: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used it for the Conchoidal chairs he conceived during the early 1940s. Read More →

  • Lino Sabattani (1925 – 2016) Italian Metal Smith

    Lino Sabitinni featured image

    Sabbatini worked as a silversmith from a very early age.Β  He learned metalworking techniques and became interested in shapes derived from natural materials.Β  The Boule teapot and example of his early work was designed for T. Wolff in Germany.Read More →

  • Patrizia Ranzo Italian architect and designer

    Patrizia Ranzo featured image

    Patrizia Ranzo is an Italian architect and designer. She was born and active in Naples. She studied architecture in Naples to 1981. Read More →

  • Cini Boeri Italian Furniture & Industrial Designer

    Cini Boeri foam furniture

    She worked as an interior and furniture designer in the studio of Marco Zanuso, Milan, 1952β€”63. In 1963, she set up her studio, specializing in civil and interior architecture and industrial design. She was associated with ADI (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale). In 1979, she formed Cini Boeri Associati, Milan. Read More →

  • Paolo Venini (1895 – 1959) Italian Glassware Designer

    Murano glassware was historically decorated with opulent rubies and gold and fanciful forms in vibrant colours. He hired freelance designers like Martinuzzi and Fulvio Bianconi regularly. Gio Ponti from 1927, Carlo Scarpa from 1932, Eugene Berman from 1951, Ken Scott from 1951, Franco Albini from 1954, and Massimo Vignelli from 1956 were the designers he commissioned.Read More →

  • Massimo Vignelli designer of subway maps to corporate logos

    Massimo Vignelli Italian Designer

    Massimo Vignelli and his wife Leila, an architect, were considered a husband and wife team credited with introducing restrained, European fashion and taste in America in the 1970s.Read More →

  • Adalberto Dal Lago (b.1937) – Italian Architect and designer

    Griglia Table Lamps

    Adalberto Dal Lago is an Italian architect and designer: born and active Milan. He was an assistant, Facolta di Architettura, Politecnico di Milano from 1964-70 and subsequently chair of interior design and then of the elements of composition. He published books on design and Modern architecture. The European Council commissioned him and architect Marco Zanus to publish a postwar European design book. Read More →

  • Patricia Urquiola is a Spanish architect and designer

    Patricia Urquiola featured imag

    Patricia Urquiola is a Spanish architect based in Milan. She distinguishes herself by her original designs of items and furniture for the finest and most significant international companies. She created the Maia series, one of her most typical works for Kettal, the designer of some of the most emblematic pieces of today’s selection. AD Design Award 2008 for architecture.Read More →

  • Piero Polato (b.1936) Italian Industrial Designer

    Piero Polato featured image

    At ISIA, Urbano, Polato taught metallurgy. He wrote books about design education. Saiet, Avancart, Pellizzari, RAI, Televisione Svizzera Italiana, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Franco Rosso International, Fratelli Coppola, Furla, Mursia Editore, Robots, Zucchi, Il Bustese, and Muncherner Ruck were among his clientele. He was an ADI member (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale).Read More →

  • Italian Design Bibliography

    Read More →

  • Carlo Mollino (1905 – 1973) Italian architect and designer

    Carlo Mollino Automobile

    Today, Carlo Mollino seems just as important as when he was alive. The designer left his mark on the world of industrial design of the 20th century through one of a kind objects, incorporating new techniques and materials produced rather than batch productions in the form of collector’s items.Read More →

  • Alfredo Simonit (b.1937) – Italian furniture designer

    Alfredo Simonit yellow chairs featured image

    Alfredo Simonit is an Italian designer. He was born in Romans d ‘Isonzo. Professionally active S. Giovanni al Natisone. Read More →

  • Gaetano Pesce (b.1939 ) Italian architect, designer and sculptor

    Gaetano Pesce featured image

    He established an office in Padua, where he became a founding member of Gruppo N in 1959. He experimented with programmed art and collaborated with Gruppo Zero in Germany, Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel in Paris (then known as Motus), and Gruppo T in Milan. Read More →

  • Emilio Pucci (1914 – 1992) Italian fashion designer

    Emilio Pucci featured image

    A leading figure in Italian fashion in the 1950s and 1960s, Pucci studied for a year at the University of Milan. In 1935 he travelled to the United States where he also studied, returning to the University of FlorenceRead More →

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.