Massimo Vignelli, Italian graphic artist and designer, studied architecture from 1950 until 1953 at Milan Polytechnic before transferring to the Università di Architettura in Venice. At university in Venice, he also met Lella Valle (born in Udine in 1936), who would become his wife. In 1953 Massimo Vignelli worked as a glass designer for Venini. One of Massimo Vignelli's most beautiful early designs is the 1955 "Fungo" lamp, celebrated for its elegantly curving, mushroom-shaped silhouette.
From 1958 until 1960 Massimo Vignelli taught at the Chicago Institute of Design. His wife Lella worked at that time for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in New York. In 1960 Lella and Massimo Vignelli returned to Italy and opened a practice in Milan.
In 1965 Massimo Vignelli joined Bob Noorda and Jay Doblin in founding Unimark International, a design consultancy. That same year Lella and Massimo Vignelli moved to New York for good and opened a Unimark branch there in 1966 that specialized in developing the corporate look of other firms and designing logos.
In 1971 the practice became Vignelli Associates, which has developed the corporate image of such prestigious American and European companies and institutions as Knoll International, American Airlines, Bloomingdale's, Xerox, Lancia, Cinzano, United Colors of Benetton, and the International Design Center New York.
In 1972 Vignelli Associates redesigned the signage system for the New York Subway. In 1964 Lella and Massimo Vignelli designed (for Poltronova) the seriously purist "Saratoga" line in furnishings composed of square and rectangular elements of lacquered wood. For Casigliani they designed "Metafora" (1979), a table composed of geometric forms supporting a glass top. It was followed by other Lella and Massimo Vignelli designs such as the 1983 table "Ambiguità", the 1984 "Kono" table, 1985 "Pisa" (1985) featuring bodies standing at an oblique angle and the "Mesa" table. They also designed furniture for Knoll, Poltrona Frau and Poltronova. For Heller, Lella and Massimo Vignelli designed stackable plastic tableware in 1964. For Artemide, they designed the New York showroom.
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