Massimo Vignelli
Designer
02:30

Postmodernism Is Dead, “Thank God”

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Postmodernism was a passing fad, says the legendary designer. Modernism is “a discipline, not a style”—and is alive and well.

Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli, born in Milan, studied architecture in Milan and Venice. He came to the United States from 1957 to 1960 on fellowships from Towle Silversmiths in Massachusetts and the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. In 1960, with Lella Vignelli, he established the Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in Milan.

In 1965, Vignelli became co-founder and design director of Unimark International Corporation. With Lella Vignelli, he established the offices of Vignelli Associates in 1971, and Vignelli Designs in 1978. His work includes graphic and corporate identity programs, publication designs, architectural graphics, and exhibition, interior, furniture, and consumer product designs for many leading American and European companies and institutions. 

Vignelli has had his work published and exhibited throughout the world and entered in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. He is a past president of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGl) and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AlGA), a vice president of the Architectural League, and a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). His many awards and honors include the AIGA Gold Medal, the Presidential Design Award, and the National Arts Club Gold Medal for Design.
Transcript

Question: Are we currently in “postmodernism,” “post-postmodernism,” or “neo-modernism”?

Massimo Vignelli: One of the greatest things about postmodernism is that it’s gone.  You know.  Postmodernism was the 15 minutes of celebrity for those that would have never had it otherwise.   When you think of Modernism, it's incredibly alive and it's just rooted in hundreds of years – in a sense, I think Modernism started during the Renaissance somehow.  But really, the Modernism even more, really started, I would say, with the Enlightenment, you know, the Enlightenment, you know, 1750, 1770s, 1750, you know, around that time.  Along with Didierot and d'Alembert, in a sense, with industrialization, basically the first sounds of industrialization.  And Modernism is alive and well and a great—while postmodernist is gone, it has only one very good thing with it, is that somehow you restore interest in history.  And that is very important.  History, theory, and criticism are the most important aspects in the development of design.  But Modernism is alive and well, as I say, and a lot of the young people are now working along the Modernist way.  And there is no more post-modernism around, it’s really gone, gone, gone, gone, thank God. 

But, of course, it’s not a style.  What is in style is a bad thing.  Modernism is an attitude, it’s not a style.  Modernism is a discipline, not a style.  Modernism is intelligent, not a style.  And so, when you work along those lines, you are a Modernist designer, and that is what is good about it.

So that will last forever, by the way.


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