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The Sublime and Ridiculous
Massimo Vignelli posited that two types of designers exist. So how do you reconcile the two?

In his interview with Steven Heller, Vignelli responded to a question pertaining to information architecture versus other forms of design: “There are two kinds of graphic designers: One is rooted in history and semiotics and problem solving. The other is more rooted in the liberal arts—painting, figurative arts, advertising, trends, and fashion. These are really two different avenues. The first kind is more interested in looking to the nature of the problem and organizing information. That’s our kind of graphic design. To me, graphic design is the organization of information. The other kind is interested in the look and wants to change things all the time. It wants to be up-to-date, beautiful, trendy.” After giving an example of the “other kind” of designer, Vignelli concludes by saying that, “There are really two channels, completely different from each other: one side is the structured side, the other is the emotional side.”

How would you adjust/rewrite Vignelli’s statement to account for your own convictions? What’s wrong with being too close to either side?

The above excerpts were taken from Steven Heller and Elinor Pettit’s Design Dialogues by Allworth Press. Massimo Vignelli is the co-founder and President of Vignelli Associates and Chief Executive Officer of Vignelli Designs in New York. His work includes graphic and corporate identity programs, publication designs, architectural graphics, and exhibition, interior, furniture, and consumer product designs for many leading American and European companies and institutions.
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PUBLISHED ON Feb.24.2005 BY Jason A. Tselentis
art chantry’s comment is:

massimo vignelli once said publicly that i should have my hands surgically numbed. so, i guess that would make me part of the category he despises.

On Feb.24.2005 at 11:38 PM
Jason T.’s comment is:

Whew. That would really hinder your work. Talk about irrational.

On Feb.24.2005 at 11:41 PM
art chantry’s comment is:

well, what would you expect from a guy who designed a pair of men's slacks for a line of fashion, and they didn't include a fly. i

suppose you can figure out why.

On Feb.24.2005 at 11:45 PM
Omar’s comment is:

I think, reconciliation lies in the fact that contemporary culture has transformed the "nature of the problem" into a matter of ensuring that things look "up-to-date" and "trendy".

Emotion is a highly structured human quality, and any manifestation of it should not be dismissed as being unorganized. This understanding has never been more relevant to the graphic designer than it is today.

The problem-solving graphic designer should not be denied a place in the world of looks. And the style-driven graphic designer should not be thought of as someone who doesn't look to the "nature of the problem".


On Feb.25.2005 at 12:55 AM
Steven’s comment is:

The problem-solving graphic designer should not be denied a place in the world of looks. And the style-driven graphic designer should not be thought of as someone who doesn't look to the "nature of the problem".

Omar, ya took the words out of my mouth.

It's a complete fallacy to disconnect passion from reason. Style and content are natural and indivisable partners to any design solution. We're not robots. Emotion and logic are the yin and yang of our efforts. Even in old-school modernism, there's still a sense of style and aesthetics.

Massimo Vignelli is speaking from the rationale of his era. It's a bit anachronistic now though. I say this, while still respecting and admiring the work that he did back in his heyday.

On Feb.25.2005 at 03:36 AM
Daniel Green’s comment is:

Kahil Gibran once wrote, "Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul."

To ignore one is the detriment to the other.

I'll just add that design is a hybrid activity. It involves an understanding of the artistic, the strategic, and the technological aspect of creating communications. Some problems draw more heavily on one aspect than the others, but none can be ignored.

On Feb.25.2005 at 08:37 AM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

Jason, thanks for the post. Good topic.

Interesting that he didn't think that there were designers in between these two "extremes". I am one of those designers. I ask myself: 'What's appropriate for the client?' Sometimes, it's appropriate to keep ones process 'rooted in history and semiotics and problem solving'. Sometimes, the client needs something completely different, ' up-to-date, beautiful, trendy'.

But isn't that distinction why some firms or designers get hired by some clients and others by a different set of clients? And why I, who seem to be stuck somewhere in between, could be hired to do a corporate identity for a conservative business but also be hired to create items for an arts-based non profit?

The problem I create is that I don't become the 'go-to guy' for either thing. But I also like having both kinds of work.

But, what’s wrong with being too close to either side?

Nothing's wrong with that. We do what we do. Business is business, people are people.

Here's my re-write of Vignelli's statement to account for my own convictions:

Thank god we're not all the same or we'd be stuck in a lame-ass world of look-alike design and like-alike designers.

On Feb.25.2005 at 09:51 AM
Jason’s comment is:

Later, within the interview, Vignelli states that “…there's a place for both, and they could benefit from some integration.” In my opinion, this is Vignelli sounding very much like the above Gibran citation courtesy of Daniel. To be fair to Vignelli, his interview and statements reflect personal interests and avenues. However, he's okay with the other kinds of designers caught up in what he calls “obsolescence, fashion, and trends.” These are the emotional designers such as David Carson (as identified by Vignelli).

To those with access to the complete interview, I highly recommend reading it. This would benefit our discussion by expanding the issues.

On Feb.25.2005 at 10:16 AM
art chantry’s comment is:

when you see these sorts of "tribes" develop in subcultures (like 'design culture", for instance), you begin to witness a tendency toward total war - "my way or you don't exist." on the extreme ends of these spectrums of tribal thought you find the true believers like vignelli. the bulk of the design culture is very conservative. imagine it like a politcal spectrum and most designers are on the moderate to conservative end. of course, this isn't a good metaphor, but it will suffice for this.

the true believers insist that they are right and not only is everybody else wrong, you should all change, or be forced to change, to the "correct" way of thinking. the error in this position is obvious.

the biggest problem for true believers is underestimating their opposition (aka - the other end of the spectrum). folks out there aren't as stupid or crazy as they are labeled. there are the product of long deep rich sophisticated philosophies and incredibly articulate spokespersons and heroes that have been marginalized. those folks just go on about their business until they, too, become so powerful in numbers that THEY become the dominant subculture thought and then THEY become the problem, the true believers.

so vignelli's time is over and the pendulum has swung a tad away from his position. the mere fact that this forum exists means that the "other side" gets a voice in the decision process of design subculture. already guys like him are considered anachronisms, when they used to be the primary philosophical power .

and so it goes...

On Feb.25.2005 at 10:26 AM
marian’s comment is:

I like the title of this post: The Sublime and Ridiculous. I am certainly both of those. I am also both Rational and Emotional, but leaning toward the emotional side, definitely.

As noted by others, we need both, and most designers these days probably are both.

I don't know that there is danger in being too one or the other ... or even exclusively one or the other, provided there is commitment and intelligence. There are, unfortunately, a huge number of "non-thinkers"—present company excepted of course—who cannot be easily identified by their style or work, but serve as a kind of fence-painter of design.

BTW, my apologies for my scarcity of late. I have some shit going down, but will return fully, i hope, in a couple of weeks.

On Feb.25.2005 at 12:07 PM
Maya’s comment is:

the liberal arts—painting, figurative arts, advertising, trends, and fashion

Now there's a new piece of bull to ponder...

On Feb.25.2005 at 01:45 PM
Isaac B2’s comment is:

Even the artistic designer is solving a "problem" -- the fact the world can never have an excess of things that are beautiful, well-designed, and well-designed. Did anyone ask said designer to solve this problem? No. Does anyone doubt it is necessary? I hope not.

On Feb.25.2005 at 01:59 PM
Omar’s comment is:

I'm not one to put word's in anyone's mouth...

This notion of an analytical aestheticist is wholly seductive and romantic. On paper, it sounds fantastic; however, I think M. Vignelli might be speaking from a slightly more practical slant. With respect to the process of any particular graphic designer, I find his classifications to be slightly more consistent with reality.

The chicken or the egg?

I think he might be attempting to distinguish between the graphic designer who shapes information to fit an emotional frame, and the graphic designer who leaves the emotion to emerge from the carefully (and "aestheitcally") organized information. In each case, the designer is concerned with both structure and emotion, but how exactly the designer achieves that balance is the point of difference.


structure and emotion...

form and function...

binary relations? or the endpoints of a spectrum?

If they're the former, I think that Vignelli might be justified in his taxonomy.

Do you approach a project from one end or the other? Or is it dependent on the context of the project?

On Feb.25.2005 at 02:47 PM
Nary’s comment is:

A smart and talented designer would be appropriate to the occasion, able to change style, concept, or strategy to best fulfill a project or satisfy a client. Some of us are blessed with more passion than others, while some are blessed with a more rational and practical mindset. I think it's just a matter of levels and one does not exclude the other. Doing graphic design, you always have to work with both problem solving, organization of information, and the look of the damn thing. Always.

Western culture has a tendency to look at things in binary opposites. Good/evil, male/female, black/white, up/down, etc. which is innacurate because it leaves out the option that it could be both.

Jason mentioned that Vignelli used Carson as an example of an emotional designer caught up in trends and obsolescence. That is not fair to say unless Carson is still doing the type of designs he was doing in the 90's; moreover, Carson's work is not devoid of organization of information, nor is it unstructured. Granted, I don't know what Carson's designs look like today, but just because his style became trendy in the 90's, and is what he is known for, does not mean that he has not moved on. Fashion designer Marc Jacobs characterized the grunge fashion movement in the early nineties. He is not grunge today.


Love your quote from Gibran.

On Feb.25.2005 at 02:58 PM
Steven’s comment is:

Do you approach a project from one end or the other? Or is it dependent on the context of the project?

For me, it's all about context.

If I'm designing a CD package, I'm more inclined to give a lot of attention to the emotional, sensual aspect of the project: how I feel about the music and the sensibilities of the musicians. The content then flows into this construct.

If I'm designing an annual report or a capabilities brochure, I'm primarily concerned with promoting business ideas and organizing information. Emotive, stylistic qualities are then developed from pragmatic considerations.

On Feb.25.2005 at 03:16 PM
Steven’s comment is:

On the other hand, I would design a "concept" CD, a release of songs with a common theoretical thread, with the concept/idea as central the driving force. The stylistic, emotive qualities would then follow.

And if the primary goal of a brochure was to get someone to log onto a site or make a phone call, I might be more inclined to manifest a design around emotional motivations to make someone take action.

Context changes everything.

On Feb.25.2005 at 03:41 PM
James Moening’s comment is:

I've only got the stomach to wade through the first third of this commentary, and by that dint, any similarly-minded reader will never get to my comment, but... I find it relatively irresponsible to divorce rationale from emotion. He who cannot explain his own sentiment is gambling with instinct.

On Feb.25.2005 at 06:51 PM
david e.’s comment is:

he's okay with the other kinds of designers caught up in what he calls “obsolescence…"

A little condescending, isn't it? It's not as though David Carson is trying to create work that will be obsolete in a few years. Vignelli obviously doesn't think much of this type of design, or designer. My question would be, does he think that the type of work he dislikes is always created to please the designers tastes? Some clients have a need for designers to create things that look up to date, or elicit more of an emotion response.

Now, Vignelli's sought out clients that allow him to do the type of work he believes is worthwhile. If he believes that these are the only clients designers should work for, whom does he think should create the graphic design for the rest of the clients?

On Feb.25.2005 at 11:23 PM
Jason T’s comment is:

Nobody. I imagine he feels the same about "the rest of the clients" as he does "the other designers."

On Feb.25.2005 at 11:30 PM
david e.’s comment is:

Yeah, but those other clients are going to be there whether anyone likes it or not. So it's only a matter of whether or not the communications they create will enrich people's lives. Isn't this the purpose of graphic design? If there's more trendy design, its only because there are more trendy clients.

But then again, when you get right down to it I'm definetely more a "problem-solving and organizing of information" designer. I've been an in-house art director for the last 3 years, and all I've done is tried to impose order and uniformity on what had been a free-for-all mish-mash before I got there. The marketing department view me as someone who's job it is to make them look trendy and up-to-date. Ironically, the more order I create, the more they think that they DO look up-to-date. So maybe modernism is timeless after all.

On Feb.26.2005 at 01:01 AM
Héctor Mu�oz Huerta’s comment is:

I have a friend whose uncle is the in house designer for an art museum. He invited me to the party of the 8th anniversary and I met this guy’s work which included 8 gorgeous posters conmmemorating the past museum’s anniversaries.

The work consists mainly of very neat and avant-garde 3d abstract graphics and I heard many praises for them.

The problem is that the important thing (the museum’s anniversary information) was hidden in plain 12 pt text next to secondary data such as the building’s adress, not to say the 3d graphics have very little to do with the museum. He even gave this posters another pass in to the press only to add a small cyan dot to his own logo.

The result? A designer feeling very proud to show his nice little drawings in 10,000 posters along the city, a small community of snob artists praising him, a lot of public money gone to the trash and 1.5 million of people ignoring they have a very fine art museum in their own city which by the way has proudly reached it’s 8th anniversary.

Well, he is not the only pseudo-artist designer I know.

On Feb.26.2005 at 03:02 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Marc Jacobs characterized the grunge fashion movement in the early nineties. He is not grunge today.

Say “grunge” again and Art will beat you to death with his surgically-numbed-for-the-task hands.

one side is the structured side, the other is the emotional side.

So is the question whether I’d rather have a car with an engine or one with a steering wheel?

On Feb.26.2005 at 04:15 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

the liberal arts—painting, figurative arts, advertising, trends, and fashion

As Maya implied, Massimo is perhaps not the best source of information about the liberal arts.

On Feb.26.2005 at 04:20 PM
Nary’s comment is:


On Feb.26.2005 at 05:12 PM
nick shinn’s comment is:

>One is rooted in history and semiotics and problem solving

Well, "semiotics" does sound academic and logical, but the semiological take on rationalist design is that it's pretty darn stylin'. So how you like your style, hot or cool? (But watch out, pseuds abound at all temperatures.)

On Feb.26.2005 at 05:19 PM
Jason T.’s comment is:

We've gotten a sense for how sublime or ridiculous you think Vignelli's take is. So weigh in about your own convictions, methods, and/or biases. Where do you fall in the spectrum of structure/emotion? How far left or right are you? Or are you a generalist, that makes this decision with each client or audience, problem or content, and why?

Where you is nobody in particular, but a call to all readers and commentators.

On Feb.26.2005 at 06:37 PM
david e.’s comment is:

I said that I was a "problem-solving and organizing of information" designer," but it's because of what I percieve the needs of my company to be. In the past, I've been on the other end of the spectrum, working with clients where a very trendy approach was necessary (we'd have lost the client if we had tried to impose anything else on them). I think everyone deserves good design, and meeting the needs of your client while doing good design is what "problem-solving" is all about. So I guess I'm a generalist. And the main reason is that I feel I need to take the best advantage of every opportunity that comes along.

On Feb.26.2005 at 07:30 PM
Jason T.’s comment is:

Well said, David.

On Feb.26.2005 at 07:44 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Milton Glaser thinks the dichotomy is businessman/artist. (The video is great if you want to see just how much implied self-congratulation and art school na�veté you can fit in a short amount of time.)

On Feb.26.2005 at 08:52 PM
Jason T’s comment is:

While the businessman/artist interplay has been used over and over (to near death) it's a good analogy nonetheless. Personally, I enjoy the tension between business/art and that drove me into design at an early stage in life. But how does one’s own interests come into play when solving a problem or engaging in design research? Perhaps that's the real issue Vignelli addresses: the emotional designer takes more interest in personal expression and entertainment than service and solutions.

On Feb.27.2005 at 12:20 AM
art chantry’s comment is:

jason -

ok. where to "i" fall into that scale of massimo's? i don't. i don't see a scale, i see a mosh. life is too complicated to reflect a design process that only has a two-ended spectrum of thought. that's so hegelian, so descartian. the truth is that it's too darned simple to draw an either/or, black and white polar world.

my work evolves out the problem at hand, my understanding of the language(s) involved in the discussion of the whole universe of the cultural dialog. i really don't see any other way to approach it. this ain't art.

On Feb.27.2005 at 01:55 PM
fish’s comment is:

aha well as best as I can ascertain, there are two types of designers: the type of designer that divides the population of designers into two distinct groups, and the type that does not.

On Feb.28.2005 at 12:39 AM
Danielle Bravaco’s comment is:

I think categorizing designers between structured and emotional gets tricky. I believe that the strongest designers are the ones that are the most versatile.

The specifics and categorizing should lie in the job, or the type of project at hand. All design to me is the organization of ideas. The process a designer follows may tip to either an emotional or a more disciplined approach, but the outcome is a solution none the less. I worked on a project recently that involved information design - a flow chart diagram. The client wanted it to be innovative, beautiful - and, symmetrical - they supplied a sketch! So in organizing this I had to change things, that is change the ordinary idea of a flow chart yet keep it highly organized and hope that it turned out beautiful.

And my process was extremely emotional - it basically involved headphones and a lot of foot tapping.

On Feb.28.2005 at 10:01 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

I think Massimo and Art are both right.


On Feb.28.2005 at 10:29 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Like cooking, design can be much more fun when you don't follow a recipe — adding, subtracting, experimenting; guided by equal parts instincts, experience, and knowledge; hoping to end up with something palatable that you can serve to people and not have them barf.

It's difficult to imaging designing without some sort of structure — as well as some sort of emotional investment in the work. But as far as dichotomies go, I tend to agree w/ Glaser's. It's polar, but sort of cuts through the bullshit.

On Feb.28.2005 at 02:06 PM
Jason T.’s comment is:

That cooking analogy is great, Tan. Some of the best chefs in the world don't really follow recipes, but they have extensive knowledge of all the elements, particles, and chemistry that go into consumables. From their combinations and experimentation something zesty arrives at the table. Oftentimes the dish tastes good and is original.

But there's nothing worse than going to one of those bizarre restaurants where the food is good looking, delivered in minute quantities, and with such extravagant ingredients that you wonder, "What in the hell were they thinking?" If I want to look at something similar to Picasso’s work, I’ll go to a museum or art history book—not a restaurant.

On Feb.28.2005 at 02:18 PM
Rob’s comment is:

If you had asked me five years ago, I would have been leaning more toward the 'emotional' approach. Then I spent five years designing for a German financial serivces firm, and you can't get much more unemotional than that, unless you are dead.

But it really does come down to who the client is, what their problem is and what is the solution that works best for the audience. And I agree with Art, I've never considered what I do as being 'art.' That's not to say design solutions don't include art, as in illustration or photography, and clearly type can be used artistically. But are they not tools designers use to ehance and support the communication they are expressing for their client? Whether they are being 'designed' to illicit an emotion or simply explain a set of information.

And while content may be king, it wouldn't rule very long without strong design. And really don't think you can separate those with much success either.

On Feb.28.2005 at 03:24 PM
Steven’s comment is:

There are some interesting similarities between being a chef and being a designer.

Food presentation, how the various components of a dish are arranged on a plate, could be considered as the brand promise.

The flavors of the dish could be considered as the brand experience.

The problem arises when a dish is made "where the food is good looking, delivered in minute quantities, and with such extravagant ingredients" and then the experience of eating it doesn't fulfill the tempting visual experience. All the components of that picture need to work together to create a symphony of yumminess in your mouth. If that doesn't happen, then the extravagance and indulgence of the presentation is misleading, and you feel jipped. The brand promise isn't inline with the brand experience.

(With regards to the size of the dish, the reason behind smaller dishes is to allow [and compell] the diner to have more courses for his meal. Fine dining is all about paring food with drink. So, in order to get full, you need to eat enough courses. Yeah, that makes for a pricey meal [with probably lots of wine drinking; you'll have to "struggle" through this], but that's the whole point: that's why it's fine dining as opposed to super-sizing. Having a smallish dish of food focuses your attention to the specific qualities of the ingredients.)

However, even if chefs are not specifically following a recipe, most novel dishes are based upon reinterpreting other recipes with the chef's own abilities: a mixture of "logical" experience and knowledge combined with "emotive and/or instinctive" personal flavor sensibilities and the overall attitude/orientation he/she has toward cooking.

On Feb.28.2005 at 04:08 PM
nick shinn’s comment is:

The way Massimo Vignelli cuts the issue can be related to the way work was done pre-digitally -- with the designer as "director". That method tends to abstraction and rationalism, as the direction is done with words and rough comps (diagrams).

Now we have a situation that can be more hands-on (paradoxically, as you're not going to get your hands dirty).

The heart and mind are not the only parts of the body which designers use -- the hand and eye have a part to play. How these are trained to behave brings in cultural and personal influence, habits are developed. Once you become a power user of a software application, you work intuitively, with hand and eye -- as much as an old-school designer may have done with pencil and paper. Not so conceptually, of course, which gives the older profs at design school cause to lament.

To draw another analogy; there are two kinds of actors, those who are mimics, and those who always play themselves. Even amongst the mimics, there is the distinction between the technician and the method actor. And then there are those who become their own cliche, which may be good branding. Finally, you have Meryl Streep, the stereotype of not playing stereotypes, and that's the kind of designer I try to be.

On Mar.01.2005 at 07:32 AM
Zoelle’s comment is:

I wonder how Massimo Vignelli views web design. The company web site portrays a very different image of what I expected from a firm of its caliber. I remember my initial shock when I stumbled upon this page quite some time ago. Why are two out of the six links in the header navigation broken? Most of the clients I work with scramble and over react in regard to broken site links. Is that a signifier of arrogance or complacency?

In relation to this discussion, if this is Massimo Vignelli’s version of an under construction page, would it’s polar opposite be this?

On Mar.01.2005 at 11:24 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

And while content may be king, it wouldn't rule very long without strong design.

What would rule, then?

I agree that design is very important for content, but, in the end, form does follow function.

But this is really a different debate... ;o)

I, too, used to be much more about the emotional, but as I have drifted more towards web development and programming, I have more passion for the functoin.

In the end, though, I agree with most folks. It's both...sometimes more of one than the other depending on the client/project.

On Mar.01.2005 at 11:41 AM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Does maintaining a relativist stance make you an opportunist, willing to take on any client based on their problems instead of your convictions? How does one justify that stance of being everything at once?

On Mar.01.2005 at 12:16 PM
art chantry’s comment is:

jason -

huh? i was merely suggesting caution, simply trying to get folks to think about potential clients before saying yes, to look before you leap. you seem to be suggesting total war, a a black/white with no gray. but, perhaps i don't catch yer drift?

sounds fun, actually.

On Mar.01.2005 at 02:43 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Thanks for asking me to clarify, Art. I for one do not believe it's black and white. Moving throughout a spectrum feels very natural to me.

Sublime/Ridiculous, Art/Business, Emotional/Rational, Stylized/Economical...I am not suggesting a total war between such poles or designers loyal to them, but rather am asking us to examine our own position, convictions, or biases. I feel the forum is moving towards this issue—you yourself have answered how your work evolves in a prior comment.

Still, I wonder why one chooses to follow such a path, whether emotional, rational, subjective, sublime, or ridiculous. Surely, it's a dance. We must deliver for the client and satisfy certain personal needs and interests.

On Mar.01.2005 at 03:20 PM
graham’s comment is:

good christ, you know it's all swings and roundabouts: bleeding disorganisation and monkeyness and just taking it on and giving it some bollocks when everyone else just sort of stands and shuffles and goes ummm errrrr-you've got to do something even when nothing would be enough and particularly when enough is what everyone expects but you know a way to really sort it out and just stick up something that you can stand for in the light of experience, knowledge and understanding. it's all performance and comedown and building up again on the turn of a moment and just going (whatever way suits you) 'for fucks sake'.

On Mar.01.2005 at 05:30 PM
Jason T.’s comment is:

graham, that reminds me of a speech my high school football coach gave before we went to State. I wondered then, as I do now, "Must you use naughty words like that?!"

On Mar.01.2005 at 05:40 PM
DC’s comment is:

Vignelli, in my mind, has always been the perfect symbol of a short-sighted, passionless approach to design. The clean lines, streamlined typography, and ordered grids was never modernism —�not even close. It was hyper-conservatism, to the point of becoming merely a sort of visual engineering, lacking blood, guts, and anything else organic.

When I first discovered him and his work as a design student, I was fascinated by his incredibly simplistic approach to design, and I wondered how he competed with his contemporaries that were so much more mulit-faceted, full of passion and vigor and enthusiasm for their art.

And now, to read about his simplistic categorization of designers just reinforces my theory that he lives in his own little Vignelli-designed fantasy world. Chaos scares him, and he deals with it by boxing everything in, kerning it all just so, and labelling it so he can live in peace.

On a more global, less design-centered view of things, categories and labels are the tools of racists, bigots, and fear-mongers.

On Mar.02.2005 at 05:04 PM
Vignelli fan’s comment is:

Pssht....chaos and organicism isn't hard, it's easy. Discipline, control, structure, and minimalism....that's what's goddamn difficult.

I hate designers that piss on the teachings and legacies of people that built the profession just to show how "mulit-faceted, full of passion and vigor" they are.

What a crock!

On Mar.03.2005 at 06:01 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Vignelli fan, this discussion was begun so that designers could share their own convictions relative to the Vignelli statement. It's unfortunate that you must hate those willing to do so, whether you agree with the opinions or not. In truth, I respect you for being the one in a pissy mood, but attitude can only get you so far.

On Mar.03.2005 at 06:13 PM
art chantry’s comment is:

heh heh. the vignelli's fan's passionate outburst is great. it points out the inherant contradictions of that extreme point of view. vignelli himslef has proven incapable of avoiding the "passion" end of his own scale, or else i wouldn't be worried about having numbed digits.

On Mar.03.2005 at 06:20 PM
thorri’s comment is:

This has been said in so many way's. I think I'll add my own. This was written after a long long debate with my fellow design students who claimed designers were artists. While very few of them agreed with my manifesto of sorts, all the liberal art students did. Go figure :)

Design is not art!

Anything can be defined as art, by anyone. That is how art comes to be. The relationship between the definition and the art is the premise for any judgement of the quality of the artwork. If the definition changes, so must the judgement of quality.

Design has a predifined purpose: To deliver information, or fulfill a specific outer need. Any method is acceptable as long as it is true to the nature of the information, or the nature of the need, and the purpose of the design.

On Mar.04.2005 at 10:53 AM
art chantry’s comment is:

thorri -

excuse, me, but i have to disagree with you. the correct cooment is:

design AIN'T art.

got that?

aside from my grammatical correction, i couldn't agree with you more.

On Mar.04.2005 at 11:17 AM
DC’s comment is:

Dear Mister Vignelli Fan,

I didn't realize that expressing my opinion about a has-been designer such as Vignelli (oops, there I go again, pissing all over the place!) would inspire actual hatred for me, the designer who is apparently pissing on the so-called "legacy" of Vignelli.

Me, I'm saving my hatred for something that actually matters.

And besides, questioning legacies and teachings of the "legendary" designers and thinkers and writers and artists that came before us is our duty, don't you think? Change can only occur if we question our own foundations, the things we were told to believe in as students, the supposed "truths" that were drilled into us.

But maybe I'm assuming too much -- I sense fear in your anger, fear of the unknown, the organic, the idea of taking a risk and just seeing what happens, rather than forcing things into a little box of your own making. Chaos is scary, especially to certain people who must tightly manage every little event, every single word space, every serif, every quarter-point rule.

How boring.

On Mar.04.2005 at 02:24 PM
Vignelli fan’s comment is:

People who claim to think outside of the box, questioning the establishment, embracing change, are most often just ignorant or incapable of understanding the discipline of a craft.

So rather than admit to their failure, they head off in a different direction, laying waste and insults behind to cover their ignorance.

There's nothing brave or new about chaos.

And if you truly were capable of defending your initial position, you'd do more than just repeat yourself in response to my challenge of your rhetorics.

On Mar.04.2005 at 05:38 PM
DC’s comment is:


On Mar.04.2005 at 06:00 PM
DC’s comment is:

Or, should I say "boorish." More appropriate, I think.

You're so darned negative, Mister Fan. Did someone shoot down your latest Helvetica masterpiece?

Looks like we've come to a sad end on this commentary. Or at least I have.

You scare me. I'm having visions of highly-detailed assault weapons aimed at my face.


On Mar.04.2005 at 06:04 PM
DC’s comment is:

Or should I say, "boorish." More appropriate, I think, for such a highly-evolved, well-disciplined human such as yourself.

Have you considered a career as a high school principal? You're very well-suited, judging by your limited grasp of reality.

I'll just crawl back into my cave of ignorance. You scare me, you big, highly-refined disciplinarian you.

On Mar.04.2005 at 06:07 PM
art chantry’s comment is:

mr. vignelli fan -

awww, c'mon there, fella. chaos ain't so bad. have you every tried it? it's what we all live in.

if we MUST talk in bipolar scales, chaos is as bad as the vignelli extreme. artistotle's big observation "moderation in all things" actually makes sense when dealing with the 'vignelli scale'. chaos is one end of the scale and vignelli's world vision is the other end. obviously both extreme positions should be avoided for a more moderate position.

therefore: vignelli is as bad as chaos. or perhaps chaos and vignelli are to be avoided equally. two sides of a tired little design coin.

On Mar.04.2005 at 06:12 PM
Vignelli fan’s comment is:

Thank you Art. Finally, an intelligent retort that's persuasive and original, not just ignorant noise and boastful rhetorics. You, sir, talk like an adult.

I never said I hated chaos, nor did I say Vignelli's work is the end all. There are things that can be learned and built upon from his work and thinking.

A moderation of both worlds is indeed where most of us work in. I'll agree to meet you there.

On Mar.04.2005 at 06:34 PM
art chantry’s comment is:

one man's floor is another man's ceiling.

On Mar.04.2005 at 07:40 PM
Janis’s comment is:

If emotional is being up to date with what is going on in the world and structured is rooted in researching and collecting information from history, then a good graphic designer would be both.

A good designer uses informational problem solving as a base to an initial idea. Then they evovle that idea into something that can communicate to the world today. To create a successful design piece an artist needs to know why? When? Where? and To Whom? it will communicate to. Without atleast that basic information a designer can create a piece but it will not be successful in it's purpose.

On Oct.26.2005 at 04:43 PM