Below is an introduction I gave prior to the screening of the documentary film, Design Is One, by Kathy Brew & Roberto Guerra (designisonefilm.com). At the time, early 2014, Massimo’s health was declining as he continued to tirelessly take care of Lella. At the end of this piece you can follow a link to download, The Vignelli Canon, a book Massimo intended to always be available for free.
Good evening. My name is Rachele McGinty-Mock. Thank you to MODA for opening the film festival tonight with this wonderful documentary, Design is One.
I am very fortunate to have been a student and colleague of Massimo Vignelli and today I can call him a friend.
The first time I actually worked with Massimo was on a proposal for a new identity for the Eastman House in Rochester, NY. I was 6 ½ months into my third pregnancy and already appearing well overdue.
Our group was to collaborate under a very tight deadline, 7 days of intensive work
to build an entire identity system.
I arrived to the project with the mindset that there would be no issue with my condition. Massimo did his best to act the same. However, on the second day of the charrette, I found out, from my peers, that he was referring to me not as Rachele, but as “Mommy”.
That week our team worked very hard. We pulled all-nighters, we drank a lot of coffee and lived off take-out food.
It was one of the most invigorating and collaborative weeks of my professional life.
After presenting our work to Eastman there was a celebratory lunch. Finally, we were able to cut the design out of the air and talk about things aside from type, grids and The Vignelli Canon.
My condition led the conversation to babies, children, and parenthood. Massimo predicted my baby would be a boy and he was right. I asked him how he and Lella, the great Vignelli duo, chose their children’s names. A baby’s name, the ultimate identity system!
He smiled his big smile and told warm stories of his Luca and Valentina as newborns, and how they were given their first names. That was a very different side to the Master, whose critical direction we had all been under that week — and it was lovely —and in the years since — that is the Vignelli my family and I have the pleasure of knowing.
Then someone at the table asked Massimo how he got his first name.
The story was that he was premature and terribly small at birth. Under 5lbs!So in the hopes that he would grow, the Senior Mr. Vignelli decided to call him MASSIMO.(Massimo is derived from Maximus meaning largest, or superior to all).
It is wonderful how this room is full of those interested in Vignelli. This film will not just introduce you to these two masters.
You will get to witness how they live and love, not only design, but each other.
Design is one. Massimo and Lella are one.
Please enjoy your time with the Vignellis tonight.
Their contributions to our design world ARE superior to all.