uncover the legacy and design ethos of massimo and lella vignelli

uncover the legacy and design ethos of massimo and lella vignelli

even if you’re not familiar with the names, you’ll almost certainly recognize the work of massimo and lella vignelli — the husband and wife team who were two of the twentieth-century’s most important graphic designers. massimo and lella relocated from milan to new york in 1966, where they lived and worked until they passed away in 2014 and 2016 respectively. from american airlines to knoll, the vignellis were responsible for the graphic identity of some of the world’s biggest companies.

design: vignelli
new york subway map, new york, 1970 | main image: knoll international, USA, 1967
all images courtesy of rizzoli



now, a new book by beatriz cifuentes-caballero celebrates the studio’s immeasurable impact on the world of design. titled design: vignelli, the publication presents massimo and lella’s multidisciplinary approach, featuring designs that range from corporate identity programs such as bloomingdale’s and benetton, to the new york subway system’s map and iconic signage.

design: vignelli
american airlines, corporate identity, USA, 1967



in addition to graphic design, the book also details the interiors and furniture designed by the vignellis, as well as spreads for magazines and newspapers, glassware and tableware, and an exhaustive collection of book designs. indeed, many of the works, which are covered in great detail, have been cited as masterpieces of twentieth-century design and are included in the design collection of the museum of modern art as well as in many other important collections.

design: vignelli
heller stacking cups, 1970-1972



the book has been thoughtfully and comprehensively compiled by beatriz cifuentes-caballero, (now a principle at multidisciplinary firm waterhouse cifuentes design). in her former role as vignelli associates’ vice president of design, cifuentes-caballero began working on the volume in 2009 with the majority of the book compiled before massimo’s passing in 2014.

design: vignelli
piccolo teatro di milano, graphic program, italy, 1964



‘on his death bed, massimo made me promise I would finish the book,’ cifuentes-caballero says as part of an essay titled ‘the unfinished project’. in the years that followed, cifuentes-caballero continued to pore over and compile the hundreds of original drawings, writings, and photographs that comprise design: vignelli — an authoritative 408-page volume contained within a warm red hardcover that replicates a previous compendium from 1990.

design: vignelli
NAVA calendar, 1976



the acclaimed graphics, interiors, and products created in the vignellis’ new york headquarters are featured alongside rarely seen early work produced by the duo in their native italy. containing 850 color photographs, the 10″ x 10″ book is a beautifully designed reference work for graphics aficionados, as well as those who have a broader interest in 20th and 21st century design. design: vignelli is available via rizzoli’s website.

design: vignelli
design: vignelli / hardcover / 10” x 10” / 408 pages / 850 color photographs / rizzoli

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