TO A DEDICATED STUDENT OF GRAPHIC DESIGN, the title on the cover of this book would be almost beside the point. All the hallmarks of its subject’s work are there: the perfectly square proportions, its bright red color, and the go-to typeface, Bodoni. Totaling 408 pages, Design: Vignelli is an update of the original 1990 edition, and now presents the complete portfolio of Massimo Vignelli’s work from 1954 to 2014 and that of his studio colleagues and his partner in life and career, Lella Vignelli.
On his deathbed in 2014, the designer made Beatriz Cifuentes-Caballero, former vice president at Vignelli Associates and co-designer of the book, promise that she would finish it, and so she has. The book has five main sections. Eleven essays on design and the Vignellis by twentieth-century and contemporary curators and critics appear first, followed by a chapter called “The Vignelli Process,” which includes dozens of sketches that reveal the underlying modernist theories, as well as classical inspirations, behind much of their work.
Given this conceptual grounding, readers can then explore the meat of the book, which presents projects separated into eight categories: Corporate Identity; Books, Magazines, and Newspaper Design; Packaging; Transportation and Architectural Graphics; Posters; Interiors; Furniture; and Product Design.
The works range from famed projects such as the New York City Subway map and signage to lesser-known gems like the promotional materials for the 1962 and ’64 Venice Biennales and a 1984 serpentine silver tea set for the Italian firm Cleto Munari. The book’s lead essay, “Long Live Modernism!,” was written by Massimo Vignelli himself and includes this credo: “I was raised to believe that, as a designer, I have the responsibility to improve the world around us, to make it a better place to live.” Design: Vignelli ensures that his legacy is documented, preserving work that continues to make our world a better place in which to live.