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Culture & Religion

Better Design for the World Around Us

Massimo Vignelli was once traveling by train with the great Le Corbusier and his circle. It was the dead of summer, and as a young architecture and design “groupie” Vignelli had been hounding the master with questions about his art. “Wow,” Le Corbusier said, “this young man has a lot of heat!” That fiery passion would eventually transmute itself into some of Modernism’s most iconic designs, from restaurants and furniture pieces to New York City signage and major corporate logos. In fact, wherever he goes in the world, Vignelli now sees his own work—much to the delight of his “twin brother,” his ego.

In his Big Think interview, Vignelli illuminates the art of timeless design, distinguishing true elegance from “vulgarities” and cheap fashions. Never one to pull punches, he calls the computer “The Great Redeemer” for his profession and gleefully proclaims the death of postmodernism: “Thank God!”

Vignelli also discusses his star turn in the documentary “Helvetica,” a surprise hit about the art of typography, and defends his claim that we use too many fonts in the modern era. He believes there are only about a dozen truly useful fonts in the world, but admits that designing new ones “is a business that keeps a lot of people alive, and what do you want to do—what would they do otherwise?”


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