Massimo and Lella Vignelli both studied architecture before founding the Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in 1960. In 1971 they established Vignelli Associates, a vehicle for focusing on projects that incorporated their industrial, furniture and graphic design talents. Their diverse portfolio includes corporate identity work for IBM, American Airlines, and Bloomingdales as well as signage for the New York Subway system and Washington, D.C.
In 1967, Bobby Cadwallader retained Massimo Vignelli to create a new graphics program for Knoll. The resulting designs, based largely on a grid, provided the foundation for all basic communication needs, including stationery, business cards, stickers, tags, boxes, brochures and four-color ads for trade magazines and publications like The New Yorker, Vogue and Fortune.
As recognizable and successful as the work of his predecessor, Herbert Matter, Vignelli’s Knoll advertisements, pricelists and branding efforts gave Knoll an international graphic identity that became the industry standard. Massimo Vignelli once described the Knoll assignment as “the most exciting, rewarding” of his professional career. Perhaps the greatest measure of the program’s success is the extent to which it continues to inform the company’s public identity to this day.
Additionally, Vignelli Associates contributed two furniture designs to the Knoll portfolio: the Handkerchief chair (designed together with David Law) and the Paperclip table.
In 2003, the couple received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.