The Vignelli Code

Massima Vignelli is an Italian designer who revolutionized graphic design and the minimalist approach to art. In 2010, Vignelli published a short book that dives into his interpretations, design process, and beliefs about the many aspects of design. The Vignelli Canon encapsulates some of the artistic cultural resets Vignelli influenced. Vignelli Associates, a design firm that was run by Vignelli and his wife, produced countless forms of media that still echoes today. Two of the most notable projects designed under the Vignelli name were a 2008 map of the New York City subway system and the 1967 logo for American Airlines.

New York City Subway Diagram, 2008

When creating the 2008 map of the NYC subway system, Vignelli kept his principles about design in mind. According to Vignelli, semantics refers to the designer understanding the subject and how to relay this to the consumer. As an artist, Vignelli resonated with how essential it was to create captivating designs. To not only draw the attention of consumers but also to show consumers that their perception of the art also matters. Overall, Vigenlli promoted organized and simple structures, grids, illustrations, headlines, and text when graphically designing.

American Airlines is one of the most popular and largest airlines globally. In 1967, Vignelli designed a logo for the world-renowned airline, incorporating components still in the current logo. The Vignelli design was minimal. Eagle wings were in the center, two capital a’s in the middle, and two phrases, ‘American Airlines’. Red, blue, and white are the only colors in the logo. The minimal, clean look of the logo used primary shapes, colors, and experimental typography. Although the logo only represents an airline, the timeless design symbolizes advances in digital artwork techniques.


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