They and their office 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 were educated architects and they collaborated in two ways: he concentrated on what he called the 2D, and she handled the 3D. He was the visionary: I talk of feelings, possibilities, what a design could be.' She, the pragmatist I think of 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. Massimo co-founded Unimark in 1964 and in 1972 they 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 of 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.