To celebrate 50 years of their partnership, Massimo Vignelli dedicates this book to the work of Lella his lifelong partner and wife. His hope is that it will serve as an inspiration for all women designers "who forcefully stand on their merits, as Lella did throughout her career."
In the introduction of Designed by Lella, Massimo goes on to explain that for decades, the collaborative role of women as architects or designers working with their husbands or partners has been under appreciated.
Fifty years ago, it was standard practice that the head of the office was the man and the woman partner had a subordinate role. At best, the woman’s creative input and professional influence was only vaguely accepted; often her contributions were dismissed and sometimes even forgotten. Even some of the most famous partnerships: Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand, Alvar and Aino Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, and many others were murmured about but not openly recognized as such.
In celebration and recognition of her work and contribution the book features both projects that were completely Lella’s, from beginning to end, as well as others done in strict collaboration.
The Italian born design legends, he in Milan and she in Udine, met at an architects' convention and were married in 1957. Three years later, they opened their first “office of design and architecture” in Milan. In 1971, the Vignellis established Vignelli Associates in New York City, where Lella Vignelli was initially executive vice president, and then chief executive officer. Seven years later, they formed Vignelli Designs, a company dedicated to product and furniture design, of which she is president.
Their collaborative partnership that has spanned more than half a century has been cruely forced to an end by the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.
It is the end of one phase, perhaps the best of our lives, and the beginning of another based on sheer love and admiration—love for the marvelous woman who has deeply enriched my life in every possible way, writes Massimo.
Designed by Lella is a free e-book that can be downloaded here.