Creative Titans: How Massimo Vignelli Impacts Your Commute

Massimo-Vignelli and Vignelli Associates Design Agency

Massimo Vignelli was born in Milan, Italy in 1931. He is a renowned designer who has created an impressive body of work in areas ranging from package design to interior design, and everything in between. Together with his wife, Lella Vignelli, he founded a design agency by the name Vignelli Associates, and designed The Vignelli Center For Design Studies.

Popular Work

Vignelli is responsible for a great number of nationally recognized logos, such as American Airlines, IBM, Bloomingdales, and more.  His work both through his design agency and otherwise has been published and exhibited throughout the world and has influenced designers the world over.  He has been recognized with an impressive range of awards and honors over the years and continues to be heralded as one of the premier influencers of the typography that we know and love today.

He is also responsible for designing the Helvetica font more than 50 years ago, and changing the way we look at typography today.  In fact, “Helvetica” is now a feature-length documentary about typography, fonts, and graphic design.  It stars none other than… wait for it… Massimo Vignelli!!  Two feature-length television programs have also been devoted to Vignelli’s work.

With all that said, his most popular and perhaps most enduring work still remains the NYC subway map, which was recently updated from the original version. The New York City transit system can be rather complicated, but Vignelli created a design that organizes the various lines into a clear, colorful map. His masterful work has influenced everything from transit map design to furniture design and impacts the daily life of commuters, designers, and the American public at large.

Design Strategy

Vignelli works to create unique designs that can remain relevant over time. Along with his portfolio of work, Massimo Vignelli, and his wife Lella, have been known to eat, sleep, and breathe design. They create effective designs based on three investigations in design, including the search for structure, specificity, and fun. “I strive to raise the bar a few inches, taking the commonplace and improving it,” Vignelli said.

Vignelli believes in following the Modernist tradition, which focuses on minimalism and the use of basic geometric forms. He subscribes to the belief that simple, but strong, design is the best way to remain timeless. As he so eloquently put it, “If you do it right, it will last forever.” This form of stripped-down design has become increasingly popular over time and continues to be used in print, online, and packaging design today.

Vignelli has published a number of works in the past and currently hosts master design workshops, speeches, and interviews both domestically and abroad.  He and his wife continue to work and inspire others.

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Creative Titans: How Michael Bierut Influenced Typography

Graphic Designer Michael Bierut

 

Michael Bierut is one of the most recognized graphic designers in the world. He studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, and is currently a senior critic in graphic design at the Yale School of Art.

In 1980, he began his first job working alongside the legendary Massimo Vignelli and eventually rose to vice president of design at Vignelli Associates. He put in hard work over the years and even worked double shifts for four years at the design firm, and is now a partner in the New York office of Pentagram.  Recently, Mr. Bierut redesigned the Billboard logo, among other notable projects. He has  won hundreds of design awards and received praise and accolades from innumerable industry professionals over the years.

Popular Work

While at Pentagram, Bierut has created new brand strategies, identities, and packaging for Yale School of Architecture, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Motorola, to name a few.

Bierut set the stage for typographic style design and took advantage of the beauty of fonts and type. He appreciates the way words look and used them to create unique designs that are hard to forget. He likes experimenting with new typefaces until he finds the perfect one for the client. He even hand-drew the typeface for the Nuts.com rebrand. His hand-drawn typeface was digitized and a one-of-a-kind alphabet was created just for the family-owned nut business.

During the Saks Fifth Avenue redesign, Bierut took the iconic cursive logo that was originally drawn in 1973 by Tom Carnese and breathed new life into it. By subdividing the logo into a grid of 64 smaller squares, which were then shuffled and rotated, he was able to create individual logo tiles that can be used to form abstract compositions. This followed Bierut’s strategy to create consistency without sameness.

Design Strategy

His goal is to create designs that people want to look at and read, and that are ideal for everything from logos to corporate brochures. He has given many inspiring talks throughout the years, highlighting his love of the designer/client relationship.  Mr. Bierut has said that being interested in the same thing as the client is key to a successful outcome.

He stated that “simplicity, wit, and good typography” are the keys to an iconic design. He further explained that “graphic design is the purposeful combination of words, pictures and other visual elements to support the communication of an explicit or implicit message.” While he doesn’t necessarily follow trends, he does observe them and feels that finding a balance between simplicity and complexity is at the core of the design process.

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