An exhibition celebrating the Italian architect and designer Massimo Vignelli. On display is a selection of works designed by Massimo and Lella Vignelli over the course of an outstanding career of almost fifty years.
The pieces on display, which are on loan from the Vignelli Center for Design Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology – as well as other examples of the designers’ graphic, furniture, interior and architectural design, which are featured in a slide show in the gallery – are at once disciplined and playful. A trio of colored glass and silver carafes, produced in the late 1950s by the Italian glassmaker Venini and the French silversmith Christofle, strike a perfect balance between formal rigor and sensuality. (Their handles’ U-shaped profile was later translated into plastic for the cups and mugs of the Vignellis’ famous stacking tableware for Heller, which is also on view.) Simple, elegant flatware and glassware (for Sasaki and for an Italian hotel chain) are shown alongside an array of sleek but practical watches for the Swiss company Junod. If the show has a shortcoming apart from its size – what’s there makes you want to see more – it’s that it doesn’t tell the stories behind the products, like the 1962 table lamp for Arteluce that was designed to be shipped flat and assembled at home, or the delicately colored Murano glass barware by Venini that was originally designed for the Vignellis’ wedding.