There is a beauty in the world, though it’s harsher than we expect it to be….

Massimo Vignelli

designboom interviewed massimo vignelli on may 21st, 2006

what is the best moment of the day?
when I go to bed with a feeling of some accomplishment.

what kind of music do you listen to at the moment?
baroque, most of the time.

do you listen to the radio?
all day long, a classical station, or my iPod.

what books do you have on your bedside table?
any book that I started on an airplane.

do you read design magazines?
yes many, abitare, domus, architectural record, A+U, eye
and more.

where do you get news from?
TV and new york times

do you notice how women are dressing?
absolutely. it tells me everything about the person.

what kind of clothes do you avoid wearing?
anything trendy, fancy…

do you have any pets?
no. I would love to, but I travel too much.

when you were a child, did you want
to become a designer / architect?
since I was 14 years old I had no other desire

where do you work on your designs and projects?
at my desk, no matter where it happens to be.

who would you like to design something for?
to do the vatican corporate identity program,
I would keep the symbol but change everything else…

which project has given you the most satisfaction?
national parks service graphic program or any other
one of great impact, that we have done trough the years.

do you discuss your work with
other architects and designers?
yes I love to, we share experiences, fees, results.

describe your style, like a good
friend of yours would describe it.
spare, essential, intellectually elegant, strong, timeless
(at least I hope! )

can you describe an evolution in
your work from your first projects
to the present day?
my work has been pretty much consistent,
from the beginning, but I think it has undergone a
continuos refinement, to become more and more essential.

do you think today there is the proliferation
of the decorative without a real social significance,
decoration in absense of common values, …
pretty superficial?
yes, and I hate it. it’s so shallow.

is there any designer and/or architect from the past,
you appreciate a lot?
palladio, joseph hoffmann, mies van der rohe, louis kahn…

and those still working?
richard meier, tadao ando, and a few others.

any advice for the young ?
learn from the past, think of the present, dream of the future.
what are you afraid of regarding the future?
global pollution, explosion of vulgarity, and social irresponsibility.


7 thoughts on “There is a beauty in the world, though it’s harsher than we expect it to be….

      • Excited and inspired by simple truths like the one you have just shared in this video…AND also excited that my (big)little boy starts his formal (grade 1) schooling tomorrow..if he could sleep in his new uniform tonight he would be the happiest child in the world 😉 so sweet!

      • “Simple truths” are complex aspects, in this case…Vignelli used to say:
        “I don’t think that type should be expressive at all. I can write the word ‘dog’ with any typeface and it doesn’t have to look like a dog. But there are people that [think that] when they write ‘dog’ it should bark.”

        A different truth, is the beauty of our childrens…thank you for telling me about his new uniform…!

    • …Of course, so true…I also liked this concept: “You have to train yourself to have vision, courage and determination”…But with you, I would also talk about different things, if we think about design, connecting it to what you love so much: backpackig; you carry only what you need along the trail, freeing yourself from the constraints of the everyday life and enjoying the sense of freedom…The “credo” is: live light on this this Earth (leave on your back the ephemeral! Vignelli also talks about this), and leave no trace. The design of your gear: tents, stoves and all the rest are focused on reducing weight while providing you the basic comfort, the essence of what you need…The tent itself is a prime thoughtful design example…it comes up in the evening and goes down once that you wake up… Yes, a tent means vital architecture, a powerful force, the perfect example of good design…You know it better than I do…

      Thank you for being here.

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