‘Massimo Vignelli was one of the few designers I had not personally met prior to our interview, and as a result, I approached the date of our meeting with a certain amount of nervousness. It didn’t help that this was also the only interview wherein I inadvertently stood my subject up. That’s right — I mistakenly scribbled down our mutually agreed upon meeting time in the wrong box of my crude, paper calendar and missed the meeting entirely. In fact, it wasn’t until many hours later that I even realized that I kept Massimo waiting for my arrival. Fortunately for me, he took it in stride, even going so far as graciously suggesting it was better that we didn’t meet that day, as something came up that he need take care of while he waited for me to show up.
This alone highlights Massimo’s incredible spirit, his joie de vivre, his humor and his generosity. Universally considered one of the great design practitioners of our time, Massimo is also kind. He is a true gentleman. Not content with anything less than elegant, Massimo is erudite, exceedingly well mannered, charming, cute even. Yes, I said it: Massimo Vignelli is cute. He is also remarkably forgiving. When he left a message alerting me of our missed meeting, he also reassured me it was quite all right, and requested we reschedule. Despite my nerves, our subsequent meeting was delightful and we spent many hours talking about love, his wife and partner Leila Vignelli, the staying power of the American Airlines logo, vulgarity, his penchant for the color black and the typeface Bodoni, his protégé Michael Bierut, the friendship he had with Alan Fletcher, the perfect sofa and over fifty years in the business of design.’ – Debbie Millman. A conversation with Design Observer.