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The University Magazine

RIT partners with renowned designers Massimo and Lella Vignelli

Massimo and Lella Vignelli have influenced the world of design for more than 40 years, with collaborative achievements in industrial and product design, graphic and publication design, corporate identity programs, architectural graphics and exhibition, interior, and furniture design. The world-renowned designers are longtime supporters of RIT’s School of Design.

Honoring that connection, R. Roger Remington ’58 (art and design) has been named the Massimo and Lella Vignelli Distinguished Professor in Design at RIT. “ ‘Design is one’ is not only the Vignellis’ philosophy in terms of their unique collaborative design efforts, but it also reflects their philosophy of design education,” says Remington.

Lella and Massimo Vignelli
Lella and Massimo Vignelli on a 2005 visit to RIT.

Remington has critical interests in design studies, research, writing and graphic design practice. Since 1982, he has been engaged in research, interpretation and preservation of the history of graphic design. He has co-chaired major symposia on graphic design history and authored Nine Pioneers in American Graphic Design, for the MIT Press, Lester Beall: Trailblazer of American Graphic Design and American Modernism: Graphic Design, 1920-1960 for Laurence King Publishers. Soon to be published by Lund Humphries Publishers is Design and Science-The Life and Career of Will Burtin.

Remington developed The Graphic Design Archive at RIT, which involves preserving, protecting and interpreting the original resource materials of 20 American graphic design pioneers such as Lester Beall, Will Burtin, Cipe Pineles, William Golden and Alvin Lustig, among others.

The establishment of the professorship is one component of an ongoing partnership between RIT and the Vignellis. The Vignellis hope to make RIT the permanent home of their expansive archive of professional career achievements with the establishment of the Vignelli Study Center in Design. The center will serve as a design resource for students and scholars around the world. RIT has begun to raise funds for the construction of the facility.

The couple’s archive includes an extensive collection of original source materials, along with many examples of their finished work. The Vignellis have designed corporate identity programs for Xerox, American Airlines, Bloomingdales, Lancia, Cinzano, Knoll and Ford Motors. They also designed furniture for Sunar, Rosenthal, Morphos and Knoll, including the Handkerchief Chair and Paper Clip table for Knoll.

“ The Vignelli Study Center will house the university’s existing Modernist design collections – one of RIT’s best kept secrets,” says Remington. “No other university in the world has this kind of collection resource. The addition of the Vignelli collection to our archives will only enhance this remarkable asset.”
In 2002, RIT awarded Massimo Vignelli an honorary doctorate degree in fine arts and Lella Vignelli a President’s Medal.

Kelly Downs