Lella & Massimo Vignelli and their timeless design | intOndo

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Lella & Massimo Vignelli and their timeless design

On the occasion of the Milan Design Week 2022, intOndo celebrates the Vignellis with double event dedicated to the career of the designer duo and to their timeless philosophy. Discover more about the exhibition and the film Design is One, Lella & Massimo Vignelli.

"It is important to Design things that will last forever."

Massimo and Lella Vignelli

Presented by intOndo during Milan Design Week 2022 to pay homage to timeless design and its crucial value in today's society, the exhibition Design is One, Masssimo and Lella Vignelli: Homage to Timeless Design, highlights how much the work of the couple Lella and Massimo Vignelli is rooted in our everyday life, so much so that it is known even to those who do not know their names. 

Both graduates in architecture, Lella (Elena Valle, Udine 1934 - New York, 2016) and Massimo Vignelli (Milan, 1931- New York, 2014) married in 1957, immediately moving to the United States. After three years between Boston and Chicago, they returned to Milan for five years, working on graphic design projects-from the Piccolo Teatro di Milano to the graphics for the Venice Biennale poster-and on household objects for Venini and other Italian and international brands. The return to the United States took place in '65. Here they would stay forever, ranging from graphic design for iconic design brands including Knoll to designing lacquered modular furniture such as the Saratoga sofa for Poltronova (1964). Other successful projects include graphic design for prestigious magazines and newspapers, exhibition displays and permanent collections, and the Bloomingdale's department store logo.

From the re-design of the New York subway map, to the signage for the one in Washington, to the restyling from the unmistakable American Airlines logo or the United Colors of Benetton one, to the renewed graphic design for the Termini Station in Rome, each of us has come across one of the signs that Lella and Massimo have imprinted in their 50-year career between Italy and the United States.

Elegant work and simple style indistinctly characterize graphic projects and products: just come to the exhibition and take a look at the multiple illustrations arranged here on the walls, or at the slideshow on the screen, both from the historical archives of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies at RIT (Rochester, NY), or admire the Mesa table in the center of the room, designed for Poltrona Frau in 1985, this piece is still in production today.

Prominent among the key pieces in the installation are the graphics for the corporate identity of Cosmit, the body responsible for organizing the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the same one that still identifies the exhibition today, and with which Massimo won the Compasso D'Oro in 1998. Everyday objects such as the Heller stacking cups in colored plastic (winners of the Compasso d'Oro in 1964, when the design was still by Alpe) and the glasses made by Venini for the Ciga Hotels based on a model of the dome of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice, are placed side by side to demonstrate the variety of techniques and materials used, as well as the breadth of the audience "served" by the Vignellis. 

The highlight of the exhibition is the rare "Seicento" silver necklace designed by Lella for San Lorenzo, a splendid testimony to the endless thematic and chronological repertoire introduced to the public by the Vignellis during their career. Discipline and perseverance have enabled Lella and Massimo to spread responsible and enduring design, untethered from trends and capable of passing all tests of time. "For me, the present and the future is total awareness of the past" Massimo reminds us, "When you look at the antiques they have a long staying power. When you look at them after 100 years you respect them."