Nothing unites graphic designers more like honoring the work of Massimo Vignelli, one of the most influential figures in modern design. Vignelli died at age 83 last May. To commemorate the anniversary of his death, Spanish studio Husmee curated Timeless, Massimo Vignelli,
an exhibit of 53 posters that studios around the world designed as a tribute to the legendary designer.
The exhibit, now on display at Disseny Hub as a part of Barcelona Design Week 2015, was originally intended for publication in the studio’s print magazine, also called Husmee. However, the idea quickly grew into a physical exhibition and expanded from a focus on Spanish studios to an international selection of designers whose work has been significantly influenced by Vignelli. Notable contributors include Milton Glaser, Hey, Spin, Experimental Jetset, Mash Creative, Waterhouse Cifuentes, Build, as well as close friends of Vignelli like lberto Corazón, Rocco Piscatello and Pablo Martín.
The three designers behind Studio Husmee, Alain Villastrigo, Ernesto Arnáez, and Iñigo Coello, kept the brief simple: design a poster tribute to Vignelli that measures 27.5 inch x 3.28 feet and is reproducible in print. “Some posters are more communicative and informative. Others, more conceptual or direct,” Husmee’s designers say in an email. “Each one has its own interpretation and beauty.”
One of the standouts from the exhibit is a poster from Beatriz Cifuentes and Yoshiki Waterhouse, Vignelli’s former associates. It features a large white “23” against a black background. A note at the top explains, “For Massimo Vignelli, the number 23 tightly kerned in Helvetica represented graphic perfection. He loved its clean curves, negative spaces, and tension between the two ‘kissing’ numerals. He always looked for any opportunity to use it.”
Many of the posters incorporate Bodini and Helvetica, two of Vignelli’s favorite typefaces (the designer famously claimed that there are only a handful of fonts worth using). In others, studios like Hey and Mash Creative playfully incorporate the numbers 31 and 14, the years of Vignelli’s birth (1931) and death (2014). And of course, it wouldn’t be a Vignelli tribute without several references to his ingenious 1970s redesign of the NYC subway map, revered by designers for its elegance and simplicity.
The exhibition also features original work from Vignelli’s personal collection. It will be on display at Disseny Hub through August 31, and Husmee is currently considering whether to travel it to cities outside of Spain. You can view all of the posters in the exhibit here. And to read a rare interview with Vignelli, go here.