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Design is One

Documentary on Massimo and Lella Vignelli

Design is One tells the story of the lives and work of Lella and Massimo Vignelli. This modernist design power couple has likely been a part of all of our lives since we can remember; their work graces the eyes of people across the world often without many of them ever noticing that it's there. As the documentary evidences, it is in this ability to know where design should start and end, to balance form and function, that the Vignellis are known to be so successful.

Through the film, directed by Roberto Guerra and Kathy Brew, it becomes easy to fall in love with the Vignelli's work, the charming individuals they are, and their collaboration in both work and marriage. When the two arrived in the states from Italy in 1957, Lella was a student at FIT while Massimo landed a job designing cutlery. At this time, there existed an interdisciplinary approach to design which inspired the Vignellis to move their work across fields from product to furniture to graphics and so on. Their career, of course, took off as their design held on to their Italian values for fine craftsmanship. In the film, the Vignellis take us through some of their most iconic projects and career favorites from the New York City transit system, to Saint Peter’s Church and the SD26.

Guerra and Brew are able to engage with detailed aspects of the many fields of design the two have tapped into whether it is Massimo's books or Lella's jewelary. What is so incredible as we watch them all come to life is the aesthetic and philisophical throughlines that exhist in each work. All of their work has a similar modernist balance if boldness and elegance. It is beautiful, never overdesigned, and consistantly has the ability to withstand the test of time. There is a charming quality to the life work of the couple, and if nothing else, to the gracious Italian smiles they wear throughout the film.

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