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Grayson Ramirez
Grayson Ramirez

Design Is One: The Vignellis


Sherry Saunders, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Lamar University in Beaumont, TXSherry Saunders received a BFA from Emmanuel College in 2007 and in 2011, she received her MFA in Graphic Design from Savannah College of Art and Design. She currently is the Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. She has received local, regional and national awards for her graphic design work. Sherry also continues to present research at conferences and publish her graphic design research. Visit her website.




Design Is One: The Vignellis



With his wife and business partner, Lella, Vignelli Associates has produced some of the most prolific, broad and well recognized work of our time. Their designs and awards are too numerous to mention but from their iconic original 1972 NYC subway map,


Vignelli is a powerful name in graphic design. IMAGES' Hands On series is greatly enhanced by this wonderful book by Lella and Massimo Vignelli. Massimo learnt early in his career that a designer should be able to design everything, hence, 'design is one'. Lella and Massimo Vignelli prove that design should be semantically correct, syntactically correct, and pragmatically understandable, but also visually powerful, intellectually elegant and timeless. The book shows that real meaning must be researched and consistent throughout a design, and that the final result must be understandable.


Vignelli is a powerful name in graphic design. IMAGES' Hands On series is greatly enhanced by this wonderful book by Lella and Massimo Vignelli. Massimo learnt early in his career that a designer should be able to design everything, hence, 'design is one'. Lella and Massimo Vignelli prove that design should be semantically correct, syntactically correct, and pragmatically understandable, but also visually powerful, intellectually elegant and timeless. The book shows that real meaning must be researched and consistent throughout a design, and that the final result must be understandable. Design as a complete, or perfect statement is paramount in the philosophy of these modern designers. This is borne out in the featured designs for corporate identity, packaging, post design, interior design, architectural graphics, book and magazine design, furniture design and product design, many with instant global recognition.


Lella and Massimo Vignelli: Two Lives, One Vision is a portrait of two important twentieth-century designers whose careers intertwined since the 1950s. The Vignellis promote a modernist philosophy of designing for a better society: resourceful use of space and materials, clear communication, lasting quality, and logical functionality.


Prior to the screening, director Kathy Brew was joined in conversation with designer Beatriz Cifuentes, who is featured in the film, and designer Yoshiki Waterhouse. Both were longtime associates of the Vignellis. They discussed what it was like to work with the Vignellis and how their design philosophy, discipline, and practice carried on into the couple's own design practice, Waterhouse Cifuentes Design, and as a design consultant for Magazzino Italian Art. To view the conversation, click here.


Born in Granada, Spain, and educated in Fine Arts and Design at the University of Granada and the Politecnico di Milano, Beatriz Cifuentes-Caballero began work at Vignelli Associates in 1999, and in 2007 became Vice President of Design. Her work for a wide range of international clients includes corporate identity programs, transportation graphics, signage and wayfinding, book and publication design, product design, exhibition design and web design.


In 2008 she worked with Massimo Vignelli on the redesign of the New York City Subway Diagram, as well as its update in 2010 for the MTA Weekender website and mobile app, and a 2012 printed poster. She has been the creative lead behind numerous international corporate identities, such as Woolworths (South Africa), CorpGroup (Chile), and AbdiIbrahim Pharma (Turkey). Cifuentes is the recipient of a Chicago Atheneum Good Design Award. Her work is now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.


Massimo Vignelli: Cars. They get old-fashioned. Fashion, cars, or any kind of a junky design that you see around most of the time. Most of the products you see in the supermarket or in any other place are styling.


This is a truly entertaining documentary that shows the insider experience of creating a hit video game. In this story we meet two teams of designers who are working to create Fez and Super Meat Boy. Although these have both seen incredible success in the indie game world, this documentary shows how grueling the process can be. From pixel painting to corporate meetings, this film shows just how high-stakes the process is by racing alongside the designers as they try to work within budgets and time constraints.


See the fascinating story of Pablo Ferro, a self-taught graphic artist and film title designer, told in this documentary. Using a blend of animation and live action film footage, this uniquely personal account shows us how Pablo Ferro used a book to teach himself animation in the 1950s. Ferro then spent the next several decades creating notable works such as the opening of Dr. Strangelove by Stanley Kubrick and the opening titles for the 1995 Gus Van Sant release, To Die For.


Running time: 24 minutesMassimo and Leila Vignelli are an Italian husband and wife partnership who have been practising in New York as Vignelli Associates since 1971, though they began their collaboration in Milan in 1960. They specialise in interiors, furniture, products and exhibition design.Massimo, who was born in Milan and studied architecture in Milan and Venice, has taught in many universities in America and elsewhere. He has been president of the Alliance Graphique Internationale and of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Vice-President of the Architectural League and a member of the Industrial Designers' Society in America.Leila was born in Udine, Italy, and studied architecture at the University of Venice and later at MIT.The Vignellis' work has been widely published, exhibited and televised, and they have received many prestigious awards. In their talk they take turns describing a variety of commissions they have carried out in the fields of graphics, furniture and interiors. They say "Whatever we have done is basically rooted in a sense of rigorousness, appropriateness and ambiguity or contradiction".Please note that a transcript of this talk is available - please contact us for further details.


Directed by Brew and Guerra, the documentary intimately explores the lives and views of the Vignellis through a series of interviews conducted by leaders in modern design such as architect Richard Meier and graphic designer Milton Glaser, as well as Brew and Guerra themselves.


The Italian design duo, whose marriage doubled as a lifelong collaborative working relationship, has been influencing American design for more than the 50 years since they migrated from Italy. Even before founding Vignelli Associates together, the couple was responsible for key design innovations, ranging from the aesthetic design of the New York City subway map to the presence of the popular typeface, Helvetica, which Massimo Vignelli said he credits himself to have introduced to America.


Independently, Brew generally focuses on social issues and contemporary art, and accredits Guerra, whose background included profiles and coverage in the worlds of design and fashion, to sparking her interest in design and its portrayal in film.


That being said, I do think that there is more and more attention being paid to design. Films like Helvetica and Objectified, those are good films. We talked to Gary Hustwit, [the director of Helvetica/Objectified/Urbanized], in the beginning because we were hoping to piggyback on the success of Helvetica.


So, in answer to your question, I think the film is for both audiences: the people in the design world and the people outside of it. The values of timelessness, simplicity, elegance and functionality can translate to any vocation that one considers.


The Vignellis were so prolific and the film covers an incredible amount of their work, which spanned typography, graphics, corporate identity, furniture design, consumer products, interiors, packaging, books, maps and brochures. What was the organizing principle for this large body of material?


Well, we had to use Helvetica [laughs] for the titles and everything. It was a challenge to make a high-quality film about these amazing designers. There was a pretty high bar to make something that reached their standards, but I think Massimo and Lella felt we did reach it.


Italian-born Massimo and Lella Vignelli are among the world's most influential designers. Throughout their long career, their motto has been, 'If you can't find it, design it' The work covers such a broad spectrum that one could say the Vignellis are known by everybody, even those who don't know their names. From graphics to interiors to products and corporate identities, the film brings us into the work and everyday moments of the Vignellis' world, capturing their intelligence and creativity,


Italian-born Massimo and Lella Vignelli are among the world's most influential designers. Throughout their long career, their motto has been, 'If you can't find it, design it' The work covers such a broad spectrum that one could say the Vignellis are known by everybody, even those who don't know their names. From graphics to interiors to products and corporate identities, the film brings us into the work and everyday moments of the Vignellis' world, capturing their intelligence and creativity, as well as their humanity, warmth, and humor.


Born in Milan, Italy, in 1931, he left school at sixteen to work as an architectural draftsman, then studied architecture in Milan and Venice between 1950 and 1953. Inspired by Swiss Modernists such as Max Huber and Antonio Boggeri, however, he was drawn to graphic design. 041b061a72


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