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The Vignelli Legacy

The Embassy of Italy, the Italian Cultural Institute and the Rochester Institute of Technology are pleased to present an exhibition featuring some of the most iconic designs conceived by Massimo and Lella Vignelli. The opening event will include a lecture on The Vignelli Legacy by R. Roger Remington, Professor of Graphic Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

During their active careers, the design creations of Massimo and Lella Vignelli have been prodigious in quantity, far-ranging in media and scope and consistent in excellence. Their work has led by example. Working together, they have also contributed to design as individuals.

The Vignellis also helped defining modern design in the US. They created New York City and Washington DC’s iconic subway maps, Bloomingdale’s department store graphics, the historic American Airlines’ logo and the interiors of St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan, where Massimo meticulously orchestrated his own funeral service in 2014.

On View until April 5, 2018




(Monday to Friday from 10am-12noon/2pm-4pm)

TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT: email reservations requests at

When you email your reservation request, please provide the following:

  1. date
  2. time
  3. name of each guest 

PLEASE NOTE: the date and time you request may not be available. You will receive a confirmation email. Not open on weekends or holidays. 


Embassy of Italy 
3000 Whitehaven Street NW 
Washington, DC 20008


Please Note



Due to new safety regulations, we are not allowed to add extra seats to the auditorium or let anyone stand. A registration is not a guarantee of a seat as these are assigned on a first-come first-served basis.



The Vignelli Center for Design Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology

The Vignelli Center for Design Studies is an educational resource center at Rochester Institute of Technology. Its primary goals are to advocate design excellence at RIT and beyond. Through innovative programming, supported by extensive holdings of design exemplars.


Massimo Vignelli

Born in Milan, Italy in 1931, he studied architecture in Milan and Venice between 1950 and 1953. He married Elena Valle (Lella), also an architect, in 1957 and together established the Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in Milan in 1960. Feeling the powerful influence from the nearby Swiss, the city of Milan was a dynamic graphic design environment. Massimo Vignelli expanded his professional interests from architecture to graphic design. Max Huber was an especially important influence. By 1965, having emigrated to the United States, Massimo was co-founder of Unimark International Corporation, and then, in 1971, with Lella, he opened Vignelli Associates. Vignelli Designs followed later in 1978.

Many of his landmark projects are now archetypes in the history of design, namely, the corporate identity program for American Airlines (1967), the graphics program for the United States National Park Service (1977), the design of St. Peter’s Church in New York (1977) and the original subway map for New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (1970).

His speaking and writing have helped spread his Modernist aesthetic through a series of books especially design:vignelli (1990),  Lella and Massimo Vignelli: Design is One (2004), Vignelli: From A to Z (2007) and most recently The Vignelli Canon (2010).

The permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Montreal and Die Neue Sammlung in Munich all include Vignelli design.

Massimo has received many awards including an honorary doctorate from Rochester Institute of Technology, New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 1982, AIGA Gold Medal, the first Presidential Design Award in 1975, and the Medalist Award from the Architectural League in 2010.

Exhibitions of Vignelli’s work have been shown internationally. A major exhibit titled Design: Vignelli  toured Europe between 1989 and 1993.

Professionally he has provided leadership for the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and The Architectural League.

Several feature length films and videos have been produced documenting the Vignellis and their design work. Among these are works by John Jacobson, Roberto Guerra and Kathy Brew. Their latest video Design is One is soon to be released.

The Vignellis were Trustees of Rochester Institute of Technology where they donated their extensive career archive. This Collection is the major resource at the Vignelli Center for Design Studies, opened in 2010. The Archive, building and programming serve as a permanent remembrance of this master of design.


Lella Vignelli

Lella Vignelli was born in Udine, Italy, in 1934. She received a degree from the School of Architecture, University of Venice, and became a registered architect in Milan in 1962. In 1958, she received a tuition fellowship as a special student at the School of Architecture, MIT, and in 1959, Ms. Vignelli joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Chicago) as junior designer in the Interiors department. The following year, with Massimo Vignelli, she established the Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in Milan. In 1965, she became head of the Interiors department for Unimark International Corporation in Milan and, a year later, in New York. In 1971, the Vignellis established Vignelli Associates, with Lella Vignelli as executive vice president, and later serving as chief executive officer. Seven years later, the couple formed Vignelli Designs, a company dedicated to product and furniture design, of which she later became president.

Lella’s work is widely featured in design publications in the United States and abroad. Examples of her work have been included in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Montreal, and Die Neue Sammlung in Munich. In 2003, Lella and Massimo Vignelli received the National Design Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also the recipient of honorary doctorates from the Parsons School of Design, New York and the Corcoran School of Art, Washington D.C. She also received the President’s Medal from Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.

Lella Vignelli passed away in New York on December 22, 2016.


R. Roger Remington

R. Roger Remington is Professor of Graphic Design in the Department of Graphic Design, School of Design, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, USA. Since 1960 he has been teaching graphic design studio courses and graphic design history courses. He considers himself a Modernist in philosophy and one who values the benefits of formal visual aesthetics in his teaching and practice.

He has been honored by RIT with the Eisenhart Annual Award for Outstanding Teaching and with the Education Award of the American Center for Design.

In 2006 Remington was named Massimo and Lella Vignelli Distinguished  Professor of Design.


  • Organizzato da: IIC Washington, Embassy of Italy
  • In collaborazione con: Rochester Institute of Technology