Lella Vignelli Dies at 82

Lella Vignelli

Lella Vignelli, founder of Vignelli Associates and wife of Massimo Vignelli, has died at the age of 82.

A graduate of the University of Venice’s School of Architecture and MIT’s School of Architecture, Vignelli joined SOM in 1959 as a junior interior designer in Chicago before launching the Massimo and Lella Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in Milan with her husband. Vignelli became a registered architect in 1962 and went on to help form the corporate design consultancy Unimark International in 1965. The Vignellis eventually began the Vignelli Associates practice in New York, Paris, and Milan during the early 1970s. She became CEO in 1978.

Vignelli Associates has helped create the branding for companies such as the American Airlines logo and its collaboration with Knoll, signage for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and a new subway map for the Metro Transit Authority in New York. The firm also debuted significant furniture designs, such as the Handkerchief chair for Knoll, the Serenissimo table for Acerbis, and the Magic coffee table for Morphos. The company has also collaborated on branding for Bloomingdale’s, Ducati, Lancia, and Ford Motor Company.

Decorated throughout her career, Vignelli has been awarded with the Compasso d’Oro twice in 1964 then again in 1988. She also received the Gold Medal from AIGA in 1983.

In 2008, Vignelli and her husband donated the archive of their work to the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. The archive has since gone on exhibition in the couple’s eponymous design the Vignelli Center for Design, which opened in September 2010.