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Big Think Interview With Massimo Vignelli
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.
Massimo Vignelli: My name is Massimo Vignelli and I like to\r\nbe known as a designer.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
Question: How did you choose design as a career?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: \r\nYes. I started to begin to\r\nbe interested in architecture and design when I was 14 years old, which was\r\npretty early in life. And then I\r\nwould start to look at architectural magazines and I eventually went to the\r\nschool of architecture too, but one of the things I learned very early is that\r\nan architect should be able to design anything from a spoon to the city. That was a favorite phrase by Argo Flores, a Viennese architect around the turn of the century, the other\r\ncentury. And I was fascinated by\r\nthat idea and then I’ve seen that that is true and the great architects like\r\nFlores and Hoffmann from Vienna, again were doing this kind of things. And since I was born and raised in\r\nMilan, architects in Milan, they were also doing all kinds of things. They were designing buildings and\r\nfurniture and interiors and exhibitions and so on.\r\n\r\n
Then I shared an apartment with Max Huber, a famous graphic\r\ndesigner from Switzerland, and so I learned graphic design and I got fully in\r\nlove with graphic design. And so I\r\nwas doing the whole thing from graphics to architecture.\r\n\r\n
So I built a house at one point for a client and then I did\r\nexhibitions and then I started to do products and you know, that's the way I\r\nstarted. And I like to try all the\r\ntime to try different materials, different experiences, I was eager to try all\r\nkinds of things and I suppose that attitude has a left me after a long, long\r\nlife of design anyhow. So that's\r\nhow I got interested in architecture and design. And naturally since I was very curious about the protagonist\r\nof the Modern movement in Europe at the time by the time I got to the\r\nUniversity of Architecture I was about 20 years old, I had already met cursory\r\nall the major architects in Europe from Le Corbusier, to you name it, all the others, country by\r\ncountry, which was very exciting. \r\nYou know, I was a kind of a groupie I would say.\r\n\r\n
And of course, I was reading all of the books of them and\r\nabout what they had to say, and that gave me the critical strength or the\r\ncritical background to approach architecture and design.\r\n\r\n
Question: How much of your work takes place on, and off, the\r\ncomputer?\r\n\r\n
\r\n\r\n Massimo Vignelli: Well, when I started was a completely\r\ndifferent set of tools then than today. \r\nAnd I like to divide our profession into B.C. and A.C., just like\r\nhistory. So B.C. is Before\r\nComputer, A.C. is After the Computer. \r\nSo before the computer was extremely and intensively manual. So of course I grew up with a\r\npencil. A pencil was my computer\r\nat the time and so drawing,\r\ndrawing, drawing and the tools of drawing where the usual ones and eventually\r\nthen you graduated from the tools when the work increases and you start to draw\r\nby freehand as precise as possible and as accurate as possible, and I was pretty\r\ngood at that. So, for me one inch\r\nwas a particular length, you know, but in centimeters or inches, which is kind of important too\r\nbecause it gives you a very good sense of dimension and therefore a good sense\r\nof scale. Scale is extremely\r\nimportant, you know. Scale is not\r\ndimensions. Dimensions are\r\nphysical and scales are mental. \r\nAnd so without a knowledge of one, you can’t get to the knowledge of the\r\nsecond one in a sense.
Massimo Vignelli: Well, when I started was a completely\r\ndifferent set of tools then than today. \r\nAnd I like to divide our profession into B.C. and A.C., just like\r\nhistory. So B.C. is Before\r\nComputer, A.C. is After the Computer. \r\nSo before the computer was extremely and intensively manual. So of course I grew up with a\r\npencil. A pencil was my computer\r\nat the time and so drawing,\r\ndrawing, drawing and the tools of drawing where the usual ones and eventually\r\nthen you graduated from the tools when the work increases and you start to draw\r\nby freehand as precise as possible and as accurate as possible, and I was pretty\r\ngood at that. So, for me one inch\r\nwas a particular length, you know, but in centimeters or inches, which is kind of important too\r\nbecause it gives you a very good sense of dimension and therefore a good sense\r\nof scale. Scale is extremely\r\nimportant, you know. Scale is not\r\ndimensions. Dimensions are\r\nphysical and scales are mental. \r\nAnd so without a knowledge of one, you can’t get to the knowledge of the\r\nsecond one in a sense.
Then, there was a lot of glue, a lot of other materials, you\r\nknow, pasting up and specifying type and losing type and was a very long and\r\ntedious process, Photostat machines and paste up again. Oh god, what a life. I spend two-thirds of my life on nothing,\r\nin a sense.\r\n\r\n
Then all of a sudden God sent this incredible thing, which\r\nis the computer, that’s the – it’s like God sending Jesus Christ, it’s that\r\nkind of a thing. I don’t believe\r\nin one or the other, but I can believe in the computer. And so that was the great\r\nredeemer. So throw away all other\r\nkinds of tools and all of a sudden you could do things that were taking a long\r\ntime to do, all of a sudden you can do it and you can see while you’re doing\r\nit. So that is a very, very, very\r\nexciting thing. Not only that, but\r\nyou could do things better than ever in history. You can also do things worse than in history, all the\r\ntime. Most people do worse things\r\nthan ever. But good guys then make\r\nbetter things than ever. And so\r\nthat is a great tool to work. And\r\nthis is what we use all the time.\r\n\r\n
Now, since I’m medieval, as you can see, then I still use my\r\npencil, and I use the computer mostly for email and writing and things like\r\nthat, and Googling, and blah, blah, blah, and checking the words, as you can\r\nimagine. Not being my first\r\nlanguage, I have to check spelling all the time. And then I have people working with me which are very\r\nliterate in the computer and so I can work behind them and say a little bigger,\r\na little smaller, yeah, like this, yeah this is good, this is better. Yeah, try this, try that. It’s that kind of operation, which is\r\nvery funny in a sense. You cannot\r\nplay the piano by telling a pianist what to do, go a little more to the left or\r\nto the right. And the same is for\r\nthe computer, really. You have to\r\nplay yourself to get the most out of it. \r\nBut you know, and it takes a long time to learn too. So, I don’t think I have the time in my\r\nhead to really use it in a good way.\r\n\r\n
Question: Is there anything the computer can’t do for a\r\ndesigner?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Yeah, the computer is really like a\r\npencil, you know. It used to\r\nbe. The pencil can do anything you\r\nwant to, but you have to do it, and the same is with the computer. It can do\r\nanything you want, but you have to do it. \r\nIt’s a tool. And when it\r\ngoes by itself, it’s a disaster because it’s a very seductive kind of\r\ntool. The pencil you leave it\r\nthere, and it’s dead. It doesn’t\r\ndo anything and it doesn’t move by itself. It doesn’t offer anything; it’s totally submissive to\r\nyou. The computer needs...even by\r\naccident, offers incredible beautiful things that are very seductive. And if you forget about, or if you\r\ndon’t have an idea to begin with, it is very easy to be seduced and that is not\r\na good use of the computer. You\r\nknow? So, that is the way it goes.\r\n\r\n
Question: What makes a design work?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Well, it should be visually powerful in\r\nthe sense that I do not like design that is a flat tire, that has no tension,\r\nthat has no guts, that has no expression. \r\nThis doesn’t mean to be **** like this, it could be on the contrary,\r\nextremely elegant. And by that I\r\nmean, intellectually elegant. Not\r\nfashion elegant, not mores elegant, but intellectually elegant. That means a mind that has been\r\ncultivated and refined for quite a long time, you know. Reading the best kind of books and\r\nreally understanding how the mind can be sublime. And another way intellectual elegance is exactly the\r\nopposite of intellectually vulgar, you know. And indeed, we are surrounded by a tremendous amount\r\nof vulgarity, therefore, it is a strive to – it is an effort to change that\r\nkind of situation, but it is very exciting because you have a sense of\r\naccomplishment. You know. And of course, you like to talk about\r\nit, you like to convince people and tell people how to get away from vulgar\r\nsituations into something which is a little more elegant, a little more\r\nrefined. And if you multiply,\r\nmultiply, multiply, then the world is beginning to get better. It takes you a long time.\r\n\r\n
Then the third thing is, people are fascinated with\r\ntrends. You know, trends are in\r\nthe air, everybody likes to be trendy, to be up-to-date, you know. But what is up-to-date today is gone\r\ntomorrow. And if you are a\r\nresponsible kind of a designer, you cannot design things that tomorrow are no\r\ngood anymore. If you like cheating\r\nwith your client and your public where you use it, whatever it might be. So, you like to design something that\r\nis going to last a long time. And\r\nso, you train yourself to be disciplined and you train yourself to stay away\r\nfrom trends. And in a sense you\r\nget automatically involving into the notion of timelessness, so it takes to\r\nlast a long time. And my god, I\r\ncan quote so many things. Let’s\r\nsay American Airlines logo I’ve done. \r\nLook how many have been done since I done that one. I done that one 45 years ago, maybe\r\neven 50 years ago, and it’s still there. \r\nIt’s the only one that’s never changed. And how you can change? How can you make it better? It’s very legible, there are no tricks, it’s half red, half\r\nblue. What is more American than\r\nthat? You give me one and I’ll\r\ntake a look. You know, the type is\r\na type that will last forever. And\r\nit’s fine.\r\n\r\n
There are so many, the Bloomingdale logo, or the New York\r\nSubway, or you know, I mean, plenty, plenty, plenty of things which are – and\r\nobjects that we have done, plates like the Heller plates. You know, generation after generation\r\ngrew up by eating on those plates and they are still around today. Furniture that we have designed a long\r\ntime ago are still there, and so on. \r\nSo, it is great to design things that stay a long time. They have a long staying power. And when you look at the antiques, one,\r\nthey have staying power. So, I\r\nkind of like the idea of designing things that in 100 years from now will be\r\nlooked at with respect and not laughed about, in a sense.\r\n\r\n
Question: What aspects of contemporary design do you\r\ndislike?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Well, vulgarity is a real ubiquitous\r\nthing. You know, vulgarities on\r\neverything. On clothing today more\r\nthan ever is on printed matter, kind of toonish kind of things, balloons, even\r\nthe subway map has all those balloons. \r\nI mean, that’s very low, literally. **** there’s no need. \r\nYou don't talk down to people, you talk up to people, you know. So instead most of the people -- most\r\nof the manufacturers they tend to design things to sell they are more\r\ninterested in the money side than anything else. And greed is really the religion of vulgarity. And it's that is that kind of greedy\r\nyou know that everybody seems to have. \r\nI mean, as part of the culture, more here than any other place to a certain\r\nextent. Maybe because it offers\r\nmore, maybe because there's more buying power in the people, who knows? I don't know why. But certainly is -- and you know why\r\nelse because it's a very young country and hasn't had the time to sift what is\r\ngood from what is bad. But like\r\neverything that is young it's fascinating.\r\n\r\n
Question: How did you create your iconic 1970s New York City\r\nsubway map?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Well, number one, we like to design things\r\nwhich we have done before. So we\r\nhave a challenge to make it better. \r\nThe other thing, all the maps which were done at the time before our map\r\nwere **** to a certain extent, but we’re talking a different – they were trying\r\nto be half geographic, half schematic, and so on, not a very clear idea. And so we started to took a precise\r\nvery diagrammatic kind of an approach, a diagram based on a grade of 90 and 45\r\ndegrees, like the London map which was very 1931. You know, a long time ago. And we just did it. \r\nEvery line had a color at the time, every station had a dot, no dot, no\r\nstation, it’s very simple. But\r\nvery simple however is a process of insisting, insisting, insisting until you\r\nget just the essentials. And all the\r\ntrashy things are gone. And that\r\nis a process that is typical of our modes operandi, I mean what we do all that\r\ntime sifting, sifting. Actually,\r\nI’m not a designer, I’m a sifter. \r\nI can sift everything, all the time. My sift level lines keep shaking all the time for everything\r\nthat is around. And so that is the\r\nway the – then in 1979, they changed their nomenclatures, so the map that we\r\nhad then was no good anymore for use. \r\nAnd so recently we redesigned the map according to the new\r\nnomenclatures, so that’s what we have done and it’s kind of nice. There’s so many museums I can’t believe\r\nit. And I hope we will do\r\nsomething with it soon. It’s a\r\ngood map.\r\n\r\n
But most of the maps today, they are done this way, subway\r\nmaps I mean, around the world. \r\nParis has done a new one like this some time ago. Berlin, you name it, every major city\r\nuses diagrammatic map. It’s only\r\nNew York, which is kind of special, it still has this sort of a hybrid between\r\na map and a diagram, but not even a diagram and, not even a map, but however,\r\nthe problem with the existing map is too much information it is 5 pounds into a\r\n1 pound bag. And no wonder it\r\nbreaks.\r\n\r\n
Question: What other New York City signage have you created?\r\n\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Well, I mean we designed the signs for the\r\nhistorical district, the historical streets you know. And why we did that, you see again, you have to be aware of\r\nwhat is around. For instance, we\r\ncould have done a completely new and different sign, but that would have been\r\nstupid. As a matter of fact\r\nsomebody else did that kind of thing and I consider it a very stupid approach\r\nbecause then when it does it is who it adds to an already very busy\r\nclutter. So instead we took the\r\nexisting signs and just change the color. \r\nYou know, so it's not so expensive that way, but also doesn't add\r\nanother layer to the already very busy urban clutter you know. So the problem of clutter is a big one\r\nof course as a designer and sifting, sifting, we tried to sift out as much as\r\npossible. And that kind of stuff.\r\n\r\n
Question: When you walk around New York, or the world, do\r\nyou feel like you’ve designed the place?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Yeah. You know, you have to know that, like every good designer,\r\nyou’ll have a twin brother that is called ego. And I go around with my ego all the time. And you should see how happy he is when\r\nhe goes around in a most far away kind of place and all of a sudden maybe a\r\ntruck that comes by with a logo that you have designed, or a book is on the\r\nwindow of a store, or someplace has the furniture that you have designed, or\r\nthe airline that brings you there has that. So, it’s kind of funny. Yes, it is a lot of fun.\r\n\r\n
While it is a gratification, it’s a lifelong\r\ngratification. But as I said, it’s\r\nfrom my ego; to keep my ego happy. \r\nIf the ego is not happy, you are in deep trouble, you know that?\r\n\r\n
Question: Why have you argued against the proliferation of\r\nnew fonts?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Well you know, you have to know a little\r\nbit more about the history of typography, or type, and how it came about. You know, it was invented at the end of\r\nthe 1400’s, you know, the Guttenbergs, so to speak, and then for 200 or 300\r\nyears, it went with very few different type faces. You know, very elegant, and that’s it. Some publisher had\r\nthe type and printer and publisher was all one thing. And there were very few also because it was very difficult\r\nto cut type, you know, it was cut by hand and not tools besides the chisels, so\r\nto speak, and the type was this small, so it was a very refined kind of\r\noperation to do. And because it\r\nwas refined, it was quite elegant. There was no room for vulgarity to get into\r\nit. So, the basic typefaces done\r\nin those years like Garamond, like Baskerville and **** and so on, ****. They were quite elegant – very elegant,\r\nactually, typefaces.\r\n\r\n
Then the Industrial Revolution comes about and then you can\r\ndo the type in an industrial way and with the help of machines, and so on and\r\nso forth. And then because you could do it, people start to do it. The foundry started to do more type and\r\ntherefore they had to sell it, to offer it. And they found the right victim in the advertising people,\r\nwhich they thought that they should use a different typeface for every\r\ndifferent client. They should not\r\nhave two clients with the same type. \r\nGod. And so that went on\r\nand on and that became a business just wallpapers, you know, it became a\r\nbusiness to make typefaces. And\r\nthen because of that, you’ve got typeface designers, people who got into the\r\nbusiness, they like it and the create nonsense type, things that were totally\r\nuseless and things of that nature and on and on and on and on.\r\n\r\n
And so eventually, you understand, that the reason that\r\nthere are a lot of typefaces is just because there’s a business, not a\r\nneed. So, you begin to sift, sift,\r\nsift, sift, and you begin sifting to see which one are appropriate for one use\r\nor another and basically, as you know, the typefaces are divided into two\r\ncategories, which are called serif, the one with the feet, and sans serif\r\nwithout the feet, the straight one. \r\nAnd between one family and the other family you begin to pick out the\r\nbest, and at the end when you pick out the best, you wind up with about a half\r\na dozen, or a little more of typefaces. \r\nAnd those are good, those are good for everything. Each one of those families are very\r\nlarge, you know, so they are of the same typeface you have are very thin or\r\nvery big, they are straight or italic, which inclined, and things like\r\nthat. So yes, there are only a\r\ngood maybe a dozen. I’m very\r\ngenerous today since I think they – but there’s no more than a dozen, actually\r\nI don’t use much many more than three or four in my life. That is the thing.\r\n\r\n
However, exceptionally sometime I might use some other\r\ntoo. But not really much more than\r\nthat a dozen of good typefaces and the rest you can really trash it from a\r\ndesign point of view. However,\r\nit’s a business that keeps a lot of people alive and what do you want to do,\r\nwhat would they do otherwise? So,\r\nlet them do type if they like it. \r\nThe only thing that is important to understand is when to use it and\r\nwhen not to use it, or what to use. \r\nAnd a good designer can come to it, you know. And they can really very well along with a few\r\ntypefaces. Every good designer\r\ndoesn’t use more than a few typefaces and when they’re less good, the number\r\nincrease. And if they’re worse,\r\nthen use all of them.\r\n\r\n
Question: Having starred in the documentary “Helvetica,”\r\nwere you surprised by its success?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Yeah, definitely, I was surprised and\r\nvery, very, very pleased too. But\r\nit’s incredible by how many people really liked the movie. People that had nothing to do with\r\ndesign, and how useful it has been. \r\nYou have no idea the amount of people that mentioned this movie to me,\r\neverywhere in the world. I got\r\nemail from everywhere in the world talking about it. I don’t say many things.\r\n\r\n
In the disc, if you get the disc, at the end there are\r\nextras, which are better then the whole movie, really. It was terrific. So, if you get the disc is fun. Any how, what is clear you see,\r\nHelvetica was born in 1957, around that time, you know, 1955, for the very precise\r\nreason I remember, before Helvetica, I was using similar typefaces and cutting\r\ntogether close, because we like the type to be closed. But typefaces, they came with shoulders\r\nat that time, and the great invention of Helvetica was to be make the shoulder\r\nvery, very tight so you could put the type – and it’s the only type that had\r\nthat, that’s why.\r\n\r\n
When we had that type that we could do that; that was B.C.,\r\nBefore Computer. Now with\r\ncomputer, you can even do that. You can do anything. But at the time, it had to be done by cutting. And so I lost a lot of type ****, a lot\r\nof letters by cutting and gluing and so on. But when Helvetica came about, that could be done fine and\r\nthat is why it was so successful. \r\nAnd I started to use it and use it and the more you use it the more you\r\nlearn how to use it, it’s just like a piano, the more you play it, the more you\r\nlearn how to play it and the better player you become. And so it is with the type. And it is a great typeface, it will\r\nlast forever. You know, there are\r\nothers, some people like other variations of it. I’m happy with it. \r\nAnd I think it will last hundreds of years, you know. And there are people will write with\r\nthis. Along with the **** along\r\nwith the Garamond, along with the few of the great classic typefaces. And that’s it, until we **** those\r\nfaces will be around, I guess.\r\n\r\n
Question: What is the distinction you make between dimension\r\nand scale?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Dimension is a measurable thing, entity,\r\nyou know that long, six inches, 10 inches, 10 feet, whatever it might be. Scale is a mental – you can say that a\r\nlounger has scale, a building has scale, or an object has scale, or a page, or\r\nwhatever if it’s just right. A\r\nscale is a relationship to the object and the space surrounding it. And that dialogue could be music, or it\r\ncould be just noise. And that is\r\nwhy it is so important, the sense of scale. And the scale relates to everything. The thickness of a pipe, the thickness\r\nof a leg of the furniture. Even\r\ncolor could have a scale. Let’s\r\nsay that if you paint a building shocking pink, that has no scale, it is just a\r\nhuge mistake, but it’s not in the scale of the city to have things like\r\nthat. You know. So, not only\r\nbecause it’s not appropriate, not only because it’s offensive to the\r\nenvironment, I mean but among them also because that quantity of that color in\r\nthe urban scale, is out of scale.\r\n\r\n
But however, out of scale is also very fascinating\r\nthing. One of the greatest\r\ninventions of pop art was really to bring an object which was usually like this\r\nto make it huge. Oldenburg was\r\nreally the great artist that did the best with that notion, you know. I mean we need also, **** we made a\r\nline of cosmetics in the shape of nuts and bolts and screws and things like\r\nthat by just taking a real thing and making it big. The change in scale is a surprise sometimes that could be\r\nused in a good way, but again, you have to measure it and it should be\r\nappropriate. Appropriateness is\r\nnot a very important issue, you know, the notion of appropriateness. That means to design things which are\r\nright for that destination, and not for another one. And so when we start, we always look for what is specific\r\nfor that particular problem so that we can design in a most appropriate way as\r\nmuch as we can understand it, of course. \r\nBut appropriateness is important, discipline is important, and ambiguity\r\nis important.\r\n\r\n
Ambiguity is not – ambiguity for us Italians is a positive\r\nthing. For the Anglo-Saxon it is a\r\nnegative thing. You know. It’s a different culture. You know, you come up with a Vatican in\r\nyour pocket, ambiguity becomes very natural. But for us, ambiguity is plurality of meanings and that is\r\nwhy it is exciting. In the\r\nAnglo-Saxon dictionary, so to speak, ambiguity instead has a negative connotation\r\nin the sense that ambiguity’s mellifluous, something that is neither here or\r\nthere. And for us instead **** is\r\na way of living. But it’s\r\nimportant in design too because then it gives another level of richness so\r\nthat, yes, it is that thing and if you read it in a slightly different way,\r\nmaybe it is something else too. \r\nAnd that might be – but it’s very, very dangerous as well. So, one has to train – it’s not for\r\neverybody.\r\n\r\n
Question: Are we currently in “postmodernism,”\r\n“post-postmodernism,” or “neo-modernism”?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: I tell you, one of the greatest things\r\nabout postmodernism is that it’s gone. \r\nYou know. Postmodernism was\r\nthe 15 minutes of celebrity for those that would have never had it\r\notherwise. You know. When you think of Modernism as\r\nincredibly alive and just rooted in hundreds of years – in a sense, I think\r\nModernism started during the Renaissance somehow. But really, the Modernism is more, really started, I would\r\nsay, with the Enlightenment, you know, the Enlightenment, you know, 1750,\r\n1770s, 1750, you know, around that time. \r\nAlong with the Didierot and d'Alambert in a sense, with industrialization, basically the\r\nfirst sounds of industrialization. \r\nAnd Modernism is alive and well and a great – while postmodernist is\r\ngone, it has only one very good thing with it, is that somehow you restore\r\ninterest in history. And that is\r\nvery important. History, theory,\r\nand criticism are the most important aspects in the development of design. But Modernism is alive and well, as I\r\nsay, and a lot of the young people are now working along the Modernist\r\nway. And there is no more\r\npost-modernism around, it’s really gone, gone, gone, gone, thank God.\r\n\r\n
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\r\nstyle. Modernism is intelligent,\r\nnot a style. And so, when you work\r\nalong those lines, you are a Modernist designer, and that is what is good about\r\nit.\r\n\r\n
So that will last forever, by the way.\r\n\r\n
Question: What was Le Corbusier like?\r\n\r\n
Massimo Vignelli: Well, we were lucky enough to meet all the\r\ngreat masters of architecture and design from Le Corbusier to Mies van der\r\nRohe, from Alvar Aalto to Charles Eames, and it is nice to know them. And if you aren’t stupid, they like you\r\ntoo. And parties, you know. Anyhow, Le Corbusier was well, was God\r\nat the time, you could imagine. I\r\nremember one time, we were traveling from Milan to Venice on a train, he was\r\ngoing to give a lecture in Venice, and he was traveling with a friend of mine, an\r\narchitect friend, a very important architect at the time, and so, I could\r\nresist, I went to the same compartment where they were, you known, and I was\r\ndoing an architectural magazine at the time, so just like you, I was very\r\ninterested in interviewing the great master, you know. And I remember at one point he said, when\r\nI was sitting next to Le Corbusier, and he said, “Wow, this young man has a lot\r\nof heat.” It was summer. Maybe we were tight together, but he\r\nmeant it as a kind of a – well, it was fun. And I have stories about every one of those big\r\nmasters.\r\n\r\n
One night we had dinner, we had several dinners in Chicago\r\nwith Mies van der Rohe because I was teaching at the Institute of Design in\r\nChicago. And again, very exciting\r\nstories, I mean, he was a great storyteller, he would tell stories over the\r\nBarcelona Pavilion, how it came about and all the things that happened during\r\nthe construction and a thousand of antidotes from every one of them. And it was fun. So, you know, as I say, I was a\r\ngroupie, so this is why I am never annoyed when wherever I go to give lectures\r\nand I see youngsters coming around, you know they want a signature. And I understand that, I mean, I was\r\ndoing the same thing. So, it’s\r\nfine. I am not annoyed by that at\r\nall. And I’m glad actually, I’m\r\nglad they have some examples, somebody in their mind that is, you know is a\r\nmentor. I mean, at the end of the\r\nday, that is the most gratifying thing.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
An interview with the modernist designer and founder of Vignelli Associates.
Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?
- Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
- It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
- COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
What conditions of the new normal were already appreciated widely?<p>First, we understand that higher education is unique among industries. Some industries are governed by markets. Others are run by governments. Most operate under the influence of both markets and governments. And then there's higher education. Higher education as an "industry" involves public, private, and for-profit universities operating at small, medium, large, and now massive scales. Some higher education industry actors are intense specialists; others are adept generalists. Some are fantastically wealthy; others are tragically poor. Some are embedded in large cities; others are carefully situated near farms and frontiers.</p> <p>These differences demonstrate just some of the complexities that shape higher education. Still, we understand that change in the industry is underway, and we must be active in directing it. Yet because of higher education's unique (and sometimes vexing) operational and structural conditions, many of the lessons from change management and the science of industrial transformation are only applicable in limited or highly modified ways. For evidence of this, one can look at various perspectives, including those that we have offered, on such topics as <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/rethinking-higher-education/lessons-disruption" target="_blank">disruption</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/education/learning/education-technology.html" target="_blank">technology management</a>, and so-called "<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/Excerpt_IHESpecialReport_Growing-Role-of-Mergers-in-Higher-Ed.pdf" target="_blank">mergers and acquisitions</a>" in higher education. In each of these spaces, the "market forces" and "market rules" for higher education are different than they are in business, or even in government. This has always been the case and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p> <p>Second, with so much excitement about innovation in higher education, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that students are—and should remain—the core cause for innovation. Higher education's capacity to absorb new ideas is strong. But the ideas that endure are those designed to benefit students, and therefore society. This is important to remember because not all innovations are designed with students in mind. The recent history of innovation in higher education includes several cautionary tales of what can happen when institutional interests—or worse, <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/09/apollos-new-owners-seek-fresh-start-beleaguered-company" target="_blank">shareholder</a> interests—are placed above student well-being.</p>
Photo: Getty Images<p>Third, it is abundantly apparent that universities must leverage technology to increase educational quality and access. The rapid shift to delivering an education that complies with social distancing guidelines speaks volumes about the adaptability of higher education institutions, but this transition has also posed unique difficulties for colleges and universities that had been slow to adopt digital education. The last decade has shown that online education, implemented effectively, can meet or even surpass the quality of in-person <a href="https://link-springer-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/article/10.1007/s10639-019-10027-z" target="_blank">instruction</a>.</p><p>Digital instruction, broadly defined, leverages online capabilities and integrates adaptive learning methodologies, predictive analytics, and innovations in instructional design to enable increased student engagement, personalized learning experiences, and improved learning outcomes. The ability of these technologies to transcend geographic barriers and to shrink the marginal cost of educating additional students makes them essential for delivering education at scale.</p><p>As a bonus, and it is no small thing given that they are the core cause for innovation, students embrace and enjoy digital instruction. It is their preference to learn in a format that leverages technology. This should not be a surprise; it is now how we live in all facets of life.</p><p>Still, we have only barely begun to conceive of the impact digital education will have. For example, emerging virtual and augmented reality technologies that facilitate interactive, hands-on learning will transform the way that learners acquire and apply new knowledge. Technology-enabled learning cannot replace the traditional college experience or ensure the survival of any specific college, but it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale. This has always been the case, and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p>
What conditions of the new normal were emerging suspicions?<p>Our collective thinking about the role of institutional or university-to-university collaboration and networking has benefitted from a new clarity in light of COVID-19. We now recognize more than ever that colleges and universities must work together to ensure that the American higher education system is resilient and sufficiently robust to meet the needs of students and their families.</p> <p>In recent weeks, various commentators have suggested that higher education will face a wave of institutional <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/scott-galloway-predicts-colleges-will-close-due-to-pandemic-2020-5" target="_blank">closures</a> and consolidations and that large institutions with significant online instruction capacity will become dominant.</p> <p>While ASU is the largest public university in the United States by enrollment and among the most well-equipped in online education, we strongly oppose "let them fail" mindsets. The strength of American higher education relies on its institutional diversity, and on the ability of colleges and universities to meet the needs of their local communities and educate local students. The needs of learners are highly individualized, demanding a wide range of options to accommodate the aspirations and learning styles of every kind of student. Education will become less relevant and meaningful to students, and less responsive to local needs, if institutions of higher learning are allowed to fail. </p> <p>Preventing this outcome demands that colleges and universities work together to establish greater capacity for remote, distributed education. This will help institutions with fewer resources adapt to our new normal and continue to fulfill their mission of serving students, their families, and their communities. Many had suspected that collaboration and networking were preferable over letting vulnerable colleges fail. COVID-19's new normal seems to be confirming this.</p>
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during the Arizona State University graduation ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium May 13, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona. Over 65,000 people attended the graduation.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images<p>A second condition of the new normal that many had suspected to be true in recent years is the limited role that any one university or type of university can play as an exemplar to universities more broadly. For decades, the evolution of higher education has been shaped by the widespread imitation of a small number of elite universities. Most public research universities could benefit from replicating Berkeley or Michigan. Most small private colleges did well by replicating Williams or Swarthmore. And all universities paid close attention to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. It is not an exaggeration to say that the logic of replication has guided the evolution of higher education for centuries, both in the US and abroad.</p><p>Only recently have we been able to move beyond replication to new strategies of change, and COVID-19 has confirmed the legitimacy of doing so. For example, cases such as <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/10/harvard-moves-classes-online-advises-students-stay-home-after-spring-break-response-covid-19/" target="_blank">Harvard's</a> eviction of students over the course of less than one week or <a href="https://www.nhregister.com/news/coronavirus/article/Mayor-New-Haven-asks-for-coronavirus-help-Yale-15162606.php" target="_blank">Yale's apparent reluctance</a> to work with the city of New Haven, highlight that even higher education's legacy gold standards have limits and weaknesses. We are hopeful that the new normal will include a more active and earnest recognition that we need many types of universities. We think the new normal invites us to rethink the very nature of "gold standards" for higher education.</p>
A graduate student protests MIT's rejection of some evacuation exemption requests.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images<p>Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we had started to suspect and now understand that America's colleges and universities are among the many institutions of democracy and civil society that are, by their very design, incapable of being sufficiently responsive to the full spectrum of modern challenges and opportunities they face. Far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted. And without new designs, we can expect postsecondary success for these same students to be as elusive in the new normal, as it was in the <a href="http://pellinstitute.org/indicators/reports_2019.shtml" target="_blank">old normal</a>. This is not just because some universities fail to sufficiently recognize and engage the promise of diversity, this is because few universities have been designed from the outset to effectively serve the unique needs of lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color.</p>
Where can the new normal take us?<p>As colleges and universities face the difficult realities of adapting to COVID-19, they also face an opportunity to rethink their operations and designs in order to respond to social needs with greater agility, adopt technology that enables education to be delivered at scale, and collaborate with each other in order to maintain the dynamism and resilience of the American higher education system.</p> <p>COVID-19 raises questions about the relevance, the quality, and the accessibility of higher education—and these are the same challenges higher education has been grappling with for years. </p> <p>ASU has been able to rapidly adapt to the present circumstances because we have spent nearly two decades not just anticipating but <em>driving</em> innovation in higher education. We have adopted a <a href="https://www.asu.edu/about/charter-mission-and-values" target="_blank">charter</a> that formalizes our definition of success in terms of "who we include and how they succeed" rather than "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/17/forget-varsity-blues-madness-lets-talk-about-students-who-cant-afford-college/" target="_blank">who we exclude</a>." We adopted an entrepreneurial <a href="https://president.asu.edu/read/higher-logic" target="_blank">operating model</a> that moves at the speed of technological and social change. We have launched initiatives such as <a href="https://www.instride.com/how-it-works/" target="_blank">InStride</a>, a platform for delivering continuing education to learners already in the workforce. We developed our own robust technological capabilities in ASU <a href="https://edplus.asu.edu/" target="_blank">EdPlus</a>, a hub for research and development in digital learning that, even before the current crisis, allowed us to serve more than 45,000 fully online students. We have also created partnerships with other forward-thinking institutions in order to mutually strengthen our capabilities for educational accessibility and quality; this includes our role in co-founding the <a href="https://theuia.org/" target="_blank">University Innovation Alliance</a>, a consortium of 11 public research universities that share data and resources to serve students at scale. </p> <p>For ASU, and universities like ASU, the "new normal" of a post-COVID world looks surprisingly like the world we already knew was necessary. Our record breaking summer 2020 <a href="https://asunow.asu.edu/20200519-sun-devil-life-summer-enrollment-sets-asu-record" target="_blank">enrollment</a> speaks to this. What COVID demonstrates is that we were already headed in the right direction and necessitates that we continue forward with new intensity and, we hope, with more partners. In fact, rather than "new normal" we might just say, it's "go time." </p>
Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.
- Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
- "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
- In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.