Massimo was deeply interested in design and architecture from an early age, and he studied architecture at teh Politecnico di Milano and later at the Università di Architettura, Venice. His first design job was at age 16, as a draftsman for the Castiglioni brothers, who were known for their minimalism.
He moved to New York in 1966, founding Unimark International, which soon became one of the largest design firms in the world.
Massimo worked on the American Airlines corporate identity, the signage for the New York City Subway, the DC Metro wayfinding system and more. He was the creator of many iconic designs, including the signage for the New York City Subway system. Many of Massimo’s notable works are a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
He once told filmmaker John Madere that ‘Bad design is very ephemeral. I’m not interested in ephemeral design’.
After resigning from Unimark in 1971, Massimo founded Vignelli Associates with Lella Vignelli.
In recognition of his work, Massimo has been received many industry awards, including the 2005 Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2004 Visionary Award from the Museum of Art and Design, and the 2003 National Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Museum of Design at Cooper-Hewitt, New York.
Portrait photography from Design Boom