In Memoriam: Massimo Vignelli
A poster series celebrating Massimo Vignelli,
the greatest of Italian graphic designers.
In Memoriam: Massimo Vignelli
A poster series celebrating Massimo Vignelli, the greatest of Italian graphic designers.
massimo vignelli signature poster vignelli90
In Memoriam: Massimo Vignelli
Poster, 59.4×42 cm

2022 © Nicola-Matteo Munari
massimo vignelli
Massimo Vignelli
(Milan, 1931—New York, 2014)

Ph. © All rights reserved
massimo vignelli signature poster vignelli90
A sketch of the poster showing
the basic layout grid.

Ph. © Nicola-Matteo Munari
Signature Poster

On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the birth of Massimo Vignelli (1931–2014)—the most famous Italian graphic designer at an international level—a group of designers supported by The Vignelli Center for Design Studies launched an open call to design posters for an exhibition celebrating Vignelli and his influence on the design.

The poster submitted has been called Vignelli’s Signature Poster because of the emphasis given to his personal signature. To me, Massimo Vignelli’s signature represents his ultimate graphics. It embodies Vignelli himself, his personality, and the essence of his design attitude. Also, it condenses his expressive exuberance, flamboyant vivacity, and graphic agility, all in one sign—a restless line that nervously goes up and down. Actually, a scribble. But what’s more graphical than a scribble?

The basic background colour is not the famous Super Warm Red—the orange-red that distinguishes many among the most representative projects by Vignelli, at the point of being called Vignelli Red—but black, the colour that characterises his most mature production. Black is the absolute colour, the colour that holds in itself all the others. From a chromatic point of view, black is lapidary. It is the ultimate colour for a designer that wanted to be timeless.

While the typeface is not Helvetica—that also identified Vignelli’s graphic production in a way that it became known as his most representative typeface—but Bodoni, which characterises his later work. Bodoni not only is a typeface of extraordinary elegance and rigorous architectural proportions. Despite the sharpness of its thin shapes, it has in itself the cultural depth of history. In this sense, Bodoni is a typeface of timeless value and beauty.
massimo vignelli signature
The signature of Massimo Vignelli. Actually a scribble but perfectly expressing his joyful and restless creative verve.

Ph. © Waterhouse Cifuentes Design
massimo vignelli signature poster vignelli90
The horizontal poster variation
featuring the Vignelli Red
background and the signature
with his first name only.

2022 © Nicola-Matteo Munari
massimo vignelli signature poster vignelli90
The vertical version of the
Signature Poster featuring
the Vignelli Red background.

2022 © Nicola-Matteo Munari
Timeless Perfection

Besides the black background poster—that is more representative of Vignelli’s graphic design in his most mature expression—variations featuring an exuberant Super Warm Red background were also designed as part of Vignelli’s Signature Poster series. One in vertical format and another in horizontal, featuring the signature of his first name only.

I think that as we mature we understand that it is not so important to make an impact but to be incisive. And that is how I like to remember and to celebrate Massimo Vignelli—with a few things, very few, but chosen with care, so that few becomes much more, acquiring value and meaning.

That’s why a monochrome background, Bodoni typeface, and his signature are enough to express the timeless perfection achieved by Vignelli at the peak of his career and the peak of his maturity as a designer.

Finally, his signature is a personal memory that is very dear to me, because it was Vignelli himself who sent it to me many years ago, so that I could use it within a project.

—Nicola-Matteo Munari

Client
Vignelli 90

Promoters
Gabriel Amijai Benderski Perez
Juan Martín Lusiardo
Santiago Ternande

Supporter
The Vignelli Center for
Design Studies, RIT

Design
Nicola-Matteo Munari

Assistant
Daniela Arabia

Project Date
2021–22