Lella and Massimo Vignelli are almost inextricably linked with the words and world of modern design. Their vision—in graphics, books, maps, dinnerware, furniture, architecture—has guided us, educated us, nourished us and in many ways, shaped our perception of the world around us. Though best known for their brilliant work in the world of graphic design, the Vignellis' products are likewise renowned.
In a recent article, graphic designer Michael Bierut, a Vignelli protégé, put it this way: "You could fly into New York on American Airlines, find your way on the New York City subway, shop at Bloomingdale's, dine at Palio, and even worship at St. Peter's Church and never be out of touch with a Vignelli-designed logo, signage system, shopping bag, table setting or pipe organ." And then you could go home, pull up a Vignelli-designed handkerchief chair to a Vignelli-designed table and eat dinner on Vignelli-designed plates.
Both Massimo and Lella Vignelli were born and educated in Italy. In 1960, after fellowships to study in the United States, they opened the Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in Milan. In 1971, they established Vignelli Associates in New York, and Vignelli Design in 1978. "Design is one" has been the underlying precept of the Vignellis' work, a commitment to order, coherence and clarity. In many ways, the Vignellis are considered to have given graphic design its stature in contemporary society. Their work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Montreal; and the Die Neue Sammlung in Munich. Their work has been the subject of two television documentaries and an exhibition that travelled throughout Europe between 1989 and 1993, including St. Petersburg, Moscow, Helsinki, London, Budapest, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Munich, Prague and Paris.
Like Russel Wright, Lella and Massimo Vignelli have had a lifelong commitment to bringing good design into every corner of our daily lives and it is this spirit, this devotion that has garnered them the 2001 Russel Wright Award.
Architecture and Design Critic
The Miami Herald