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Massimo Vignelli

Born in Milan in 1931, Massimo Vignelli is recognized as one of the most important and influential designers of the 20th century. His work can be seen in permanent museum exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and Die Neue Sammlung in Munich, among others. Vignelli won numerous awards throughout his career, including lifetime achievement awards from the Brooklyn Museum in 1995 and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in 2003. In 1996, he was elected Honorary Royal Designer for Industry by the Royal Institute of British Architects.  After studying art and architecture and opening his own design firm in his native Italy, Vignelli moved to New York in 1966, where he started a new branch of Unimark International; the company would become one of the world’s largest design firms. Vignelli worked in many design fields, including advertising, identity, packaging, product, industrial, furniture and architectural design. Among his most famous designs are the corporate identity branding for American Airlines and Bloomingdales, as well as maps and signage for the New York subway system. Vignelli espoused the principles developed in the early 20th-century Modern Movement and worked almost exclusively in that tradition, preferring simplicity and elegance through basic geometric forms. His Handkerchief Side Chair for Knoll, for example, is a pared-down design of steel and molded fiberglass created for easy comfort and a clean aesthetic. Vignelli taught often and gave lectures throughout Europe, the U.S. and China. He passed away in 2014 but left an indelible mark on both the design industry and several generations of architects and artists. Vignelli’s ideology was, “If you can design one thing, you can design everything.”