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May 27, 2014 - Comments Off on R.I.P. Massimo Vignelli

R.I.P. Massimo Vignelli


A designer has just left us with an amazing legacy of creativity and clarity. The great Massimo Vignelli (January 10, 1931 – May 27, 2014) has died at the age of 83.

The life of a designer is a life of fight. Fight against the ugliness. Just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, the visual disease is what we have around, and what we try to do is cure it somehow with design. – Massimo Vignelli

A massively influential designer and one of the last true great creative thinkers, I had the good fortune to have a brief correspondence with Mr. Vignelli back in 2002. I was putting together a presentation entitled "Good Examples of Bad Design", to be delivered at the HOW Design Conference in Orlando. He reached out to me, presumably out of curiosity and delight in the subject matter. He told me quite simply, that he was looking forward to my presentation. It meant the world to me and I've cherished this memory even as the archived bits of the conversation have faded from my hard drive.

Michael Bierut from Pentagram produced a short video about Massimo's approach to book design. In a world that is quickly becoming digital, it's worth watching to learn (and hear) a few insights from one of the masters. The creative world was a much better place with him in it.

Massimo Vignelli Makes Books from Pentagram on Vimeo.

Also, to catch up on the legacy of Mr. Vignelli - check out this link.

Published by: davefletcher in The Design Mechanism
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July 31, 2008 - 14 comments

Steak n’ Shake vs. Shake Shack

Steak n Shake vs. Shake ShackI was alerted to a comment trail and venomous ranting occurring at a Web site called, where several creative folk and other knuckleheads are going apeshit over the similarities between the logos for Steak n Shake and Shake Shack. Some of the foulest bile is being hurled by people who found out the logo for Shake Shack was designed by “someone” at Pentagram, a highly-regarded global branding and design firm and home to creative luminaries Paula Scher and Michael Beirut.

We could have avoided the blog post except that an “unnamed designer at Pentagram” decided to “teach the kids and haters a lesson” by flinging his own monkey poo into the fray:

“I designed the new Shake Shack identity and the original existing identity. The permanent signage on the exterior of the new Shake Shack will appear as the original logo, familiar from the Madison Square Park location. The new retail identity will be used in the interior for items like menu boards, cups, paper and packaging, but not on the architecture. The sign in your shot is temporary--it's just a piece of paper.

The new identity is not an homage to Steak n Shake. The typography has nothing in common--the new Shake Shack logotype is in script. Sometimes it appears straight. Sometimes it will appear in a stamp or seal in a circular motif. Saying it's a rip-off of the Steak n Shake logo is like saying a hot dog is just like a hamburger because they're both in a bun.”

Thanks “Mysterious Designer at Pentagram” – you have put the people who are been yammering about this nonsense in their place – not only with your mastery of the obvious, but with your snotty and authoritative tone. By mixing phrases for designers (“ will appear in a stamp or seal in a circular motif”) with ironic comparisons designed to resonate with total morons (“hot dogs and hamburgers”? Really??), you’ve actually stooped to the very level that a masterful agency such as Pentagram should always choose to remain light years above.

Published by: davefletcher in The Design Mechanism
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