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