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WEEKLY EMAIL: SEPTEMBER 17, 2010


Lella and Massimo Vignelli: A Celebration

FEATURED THIS WEEK : THE EDITORS

Lella and Massimo Vignelli: A Celebration

The iconic work of international designers Lella and Massimo Vignelli is now a permanent archive at a new design center, the Vignelli Center for Design Studies, set to open September 16, 2010 at the Rochester Institute of Technology. This begins a week-long celebration on Design Observer of their significant contributions to design.
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OBSERVATORY : STEVEN HELLER

Heller on Heller

When I was a kid the other kids in school used to joke that I was going straight to Hell because my name was Heller. If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times…a day. And I'd be lying — and probably would go straight to Hell — if I didn't say the joke got tired very quickly. Then came Hellerware designed by the Vignellis.
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OBSERVATORY : THE EDITORS

New Season of Design Matters with Debbie Millman

We are pleased to announce that Season Six of Design Matters with Debbie Millman will premiere on Observer Media this Friday at 3pm with a legendary guest, none other than Massimo Vignelli — during our week-long celebration of Lella and Massimo Vignelli.
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PLACES : KIM FöRSTER

Massimo Vignelli: Oppositions, Skyline and the Institute

In 1967 Peter Eisenman founded the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, which for almost two decades functioned as a forum for public and scholarly debate. In the early '70s Massimo Vignelli began a productive association with the Institute, designing its graphic identity, from periodicals to posters to stationery. As part of the Design Observer Group's week-long celebration of Massimo and Lella Vignelli's work, we are pleased to present a gallery of Institute graphic design, written and curated by Kim Förster, who is researching the history of the IAUS.
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OBSERVATORY : MICHAEL BIERUT

Dot Zero

Dot Zero was a remarkable publication that is little known today. Designed by Massimo Vignelli as the house organ of pioneering design consultancy Unimark, Dot Zero was published only five times between 1966 and 1968. Its mission was described in its inaugural issue: "It will deal with the theory and practice of visual communication from varied points of reference, breaking down constantly what used to be thought of as barriers and are now seen to be points of contact." The list of contributors was astonishing for its time, and the topics it covered (new technologies, transportation graphics, semiotics) were not addressed in the mainstream design press then, and indeed in come cases would not be discussed elsewhere in such depth for decades. What does Massimo Vignelli say today about this attempt to revolutionize design publishing?
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OBSERVATORY : ALICE TWEMLOW

Massimo Vignelli's Desk

A glimpse of someone's workspace inevitably brings out the amateur analyst in us, or at least the voyeur. We snoop around other peoples' desks because we think we will learn something — and hopefully something profound — about the kind of person who works there.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : DANA THOMAS

132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE

Since handing over daily design duties at his Tokyo fashion house in 1997, Miyake has spent his time exploring new ways to make clothes more efficient, ecological and accessible while remaining stylish and modern. On September 7, he unveiled his lab's latest project.
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OBSERVATORY : ANNOTATED BY JULIE LASKY

Massimo Vignelli vs. Ed Benguiat (Sort Of)

Philip B. Meggs: Pardon me, Emigre has won some important design awards. Why is it garbage?

Massimo Vignelli: Maybe you should be one of the design judges.
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OBSERVATORY : STEVEN HELLER

Vignelli's Herald (or Heralding Vignelli)

I remember like it was yesterday. It was a cold, damp day (or was it warm and sunny?) in 1970 (or 71?), well anyway, a brand new New York newspaper landed on the newsstands — The Herald. What a surprise! Compared to The Daily NewsNew York PostThe New York Times and The Village Voice it was a breath of fresh newsprint.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : MIMI ZEIGER

Food Not Bombs

A philosophy of nonviolent action for social justice gives the organization a political edginess not always palatable to locavores who are more inclined to fight for the perfect heirloom tomato than against corporate food conglomerates.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : JOHN MADERE

John Madere: Massimo Vignelli

This film was directed and filmed by John Madere and edited by Aaron Wolfe in 2010. It is the first of a series featuring some of the preeminent figures in graphic design today. The films will be an extension of a still-portrait series of designers that Madere has been photographing since 2008.
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OBSERVATORY : LORRAINE WILD

The Black Rule

The Black Rule is intimately connected to a typographic grid, and the paper it's printed on. It's the sign of the hand of a designer who shows no sign of his hand. It's not really necessary, but it's critical to the identity of the work and the person who imagined it. Here, a look at The Black Rule in the work of Massimo Vignelli.
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PLACES : KEITH EGGENER

Size Matters: Small Towns with Big Things

"America is littered with really large things — colossal chairs and chainsaws, gargantuan gas pumps and guitars, super-sized shoes and six packs, tremendous teapots and totem poles, all variety of enormous animals, insects, fruits and vegetables," writes architectural historian Keith Eggener. And, he notes, "Like claimants to the title of world's tallest building, enormous roadside attractions beg the question 'why?'" Eggener tackles the question, ranging from semiotics to economics to design history, and he finds strange objects born of local pride or personal whimsy or sheer tenacity.
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OBSERVATORY : MICHAEL BIERUT

Lella Vignelli

Thirty years ago this summer, I graduated from design school in Ohio and moved to New York to take a job at Vignelli Associates. Even then, Massimo Vignelli was a legend. Other designers who heard where I would be working always seemed to have a story about him. Only a few of these were true, but most of were outrageous. I knew next to nothing about Lella Vignelli, Massimo's wife and partner, alongside whom he had been working for his whole career. I remember running into a former Vignelli Associates intern. "Oh, wait till you meet Lella," he said, mysteriously.

Over the next ten years, I learned an enormous amount from Massimo about how to be a good designer. But I learned how to be a successful designer from Lella. 

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OBSERVATORY : DEBBIE MILLMAN

Interview with Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli was one of the few designers I had not personally met prior to our interview, and as a result, I approached the date of our meeting with a certain amount of nervousness. It didn't help that this was also the only interview wherein I inadvertently stood my subject up.
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OBSERVATORY : AIGA

Lella and Massimo Vignelli: The 1982 AIGA Medal

In 1982 Lella and Massimo received the AIGA Medal for their many contributions to the design world. Here is an article which originally appeared in the 1983 issue of AIGA Graphic Design USA, commemorating their accomplishments. It is republished here with kind permission from AIGA.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : ROBERT FABRICANT

Design With Intent

Robert Fabricant discusses the sea change in the way designers engage with the world. Instead of aspiring to influence user behavior from a distance, designers increasingly want the products they design to have more immediate impact through direct social engagement.
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Sean Adams & Noreen Morioka

Sean Adams & Noreen Morioka: their client list includes MTV, VH1, Sundance and Nickelodeon.
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More Design Matters Archive >>

CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

Climate Change Chocolate

While environmentalists debate the ethics and effectiveness of carbon offsets, designers work to make them appealing.
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2008

Growing Water

Growing Water is a bold proposal by a team of Chicago urban designers for how cities can ensure the availability of an increasingly scarce resource. 

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Change Observer

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