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Design is One: A love letter to two titans of Italian design

Lella and Massimo Vignelli

2 out of 4 stars

Directed by
Kathy Brew, Roberto Guerra
Lella Vignelli, Massimo Vignelli

Lella and Massimo Vignelli are giants of the design world. In the 1960s they introduced Italian design to the United States and have been prolific ever since, creating everything from furniture and glassware to a church.

They're best known for designing corporate logos, including those for Ford, American Airlines and Bloomingdales. It's a running joke of this documentary, Design is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli,  that Massimo will obsess over fonts and then go with Helvetica.

Exploring the collaboration between husband and wife, first-time director Kathy Brew and co-director Roberto Guerra, whose last project was a television documentary about artists' influences, interview a wide array of colleagues and admirers who help bring to light the distinctive spin that the Vignellis put on modernism and the impact they have had on design.

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Unfortunately, the filmmakers sometimes fail to provide much in the way of context. For example, it would have been helpful to see the New York subway map that preceded the famous one the Vignellis designed in order to see just how much of an improvement their vision was.

And don't expect much in the way of criticism – this is an unabashed celebration of their lives and work.

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More


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