profile panorama photo
Graphic Design
Clarksville MD

Meeting the Big Guys

Emily Okey on Tuesday, 21 September 2010.

This past week marked the opening of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies. In addition to Global Village, it is one of the newest construction projects on campus. The center is attached to the already existing building 7 (College of Imaging Arts and Sciences). But you know, buildings are only so cool.

What makes this building so awesome is the people behind the project. The Vignellis! Massimo and Lella Vignelli are two famous designers. Like really famous. Except every other person I talked to from other majors had no idea who they were. But that’s okay because I was excited enough to make up for that. Everyone in the design world knows who they are.

All of my design classes that day were cancelled! For a fantastic reason, of course. They don’t tend to encourage delinquency around here.

Anyway, I got up super early on Thursday morning, dressed up in all black (the Vignelli’s request) and headed off to be a greeter.

...for no one.

Literally between the hours of 8:30 and 10:30 I saw maybe 5 people pass by and that included 3 cleaning people and two students. Right. I signed up for this?

I headed off to work slightly disappointed but I knew that I was volunteering again from 4:30 to 6:30 and hopefully someone would decide to turn up.

Sure enough, people there were. Hundreds of them packed into the new design center. I took my position up on the 4th floor archives to direct people and hoped that I might get to meet one or two of the people behind this whole shebang.

In walks Michael Bierut.

For those of you who have seen the movie Helvetica or have heard about Pentagram design will know who I am talking about. If not, please google him and inform yourselves.

I wanted to talk to him. Really bad. Except no question/comment seemed worthy. “UHmm Hi, I really like your designs.” Yeah, not going to work.

So I stood there, smiled and waited. He started going through his work that was in the archives. My favorite comment was “this stuff is embarrassing”. Right. And that makes my work what?

But I got to meet him. And get his autograph! Then Massimo and Lella Vignelli walked in and Armando Milani. 


Suddenly the nothingness of 8:30-10:30 seemed alright.

And that’s the story about how I met the big guys.