Design is not art. Design is utilitarian, art is not.
— Massimo Vignelli 1931-2014
First some bad news
Except for you, no one is going to visit your website because of its cool design. People show up for the content and cat videos. Design makes the content easy to find and a pleasure to use, but it’s not what people are after. The web is made of content. Design is what holds all that content in place.
Now some good news
We’re designers, not artists. Design isn’t self-expression. Designers make things that solve problems within a set of constraints. Sure, we get “creative” when we build stuff, but unlike artists, we work to solve real problems — Not present our own view of the world.
Massimo Vignelli was a visionary graphic designer who gave clarity and coherence to corporate logos, shopping bags, furniture, kitchenware, and even the New York City Subway map.
He was born in 1931, in Milan, where he grew up captivated by the city’s renaissance architecture. Mr. Vignelli and his wife Lella founded Vignelli Associates in 1971. It became Vignelli Designs in 1978.
His clients included American Airlines, Ford, IBM, Xerox, Gillette, Bloomingdale’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He died on May 27, 2014 at 83.
- Massimo Vignelli
- Photo of Mr. Vignelli by Stefano Giovannini