The Vignellis and their collaborators worked in many design forms: industrial and product design, graphic design, book design, magazine and newspaper design, packaging design, interior and exhibit design, environmental design, and furniture design.
Both Massimo and Lella were educated architects and they collaborated in two ways: Massimo concentrated on what he called the 2D, and Lella handled the 3D. Massimo was the visionary: ‘I talk of feelings, possibilities, what a design could be.' Lella, the pragmatist, described her design process as being focused on “... feasibility, planning, what a design can be."
Although they collaborated regularly, Massimo's passion included graphic design and Lella's family tradition and training were in architecture. They came to the United States in 1957 and Massimo co-founded the company Unimark in 1964. In 1972, the Vignellis formed Vignelli Associates in New York City.
The Vignelli commitment to the correctness of design took their work beyond the mechanical exercise of devising a form best suited to a given function. They always understood that design itself, in the abstract, could and should be an integral part of function. More than a process and a result, design — good design — is an imperative.
In his book, The Vignelli Canon, Massimo provides a glimpse into his understanding of good design, its rules and criteria. Massimo also published a book, Designed by: Lella Vignelli, featuring the work of his wife, Lella, to celebrate 50 years of their partnership.