I only met Massimo a couple of times, thanks to my friend and employer Richard Stadin, who lived around the corner from Massimo on the Upper East Side. Massimo helped Richard design his video packaging and ads, and if I ever wanted to change a design Richard would tell me Massimo would not agree to that. He was right, and it was hard to argue. The lines were always perfectly clean and proportional, if sometimes a little effete and unemotional.
I first learned of Massimo when his NYC Subway Map came out in 1972. I was a boy from Long Island, but I studied New York City and this map made every bit of the city clean, perfect and manageable, which helped draw a shy high school student into the city’s high culture and demimonde. The release of his map was one of those epochal New York moments, that will surely turn up when I get to 1972 in Mad Men (currently in 1968).
I few years ago I helped him out, converting his video portfolio from DVD to an online video format, and a book he had written called the Vignelli Canon, to pdf. It was a reminder that technology overruns us all at some point. He was beyond anything else, in my experience, a gentle and kind man.
The book was dedicated to his wife, Lella, his lifelong companion and partner. Here’s to a good life, Massimo, well lived. There way more details and history in his New York Times obit.