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


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


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.


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.

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