Typographer of the Week, Massimo Vignelli || Typography


Map created by Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli is an Italian born designer who studied art and architecture in Milan, and moved to America in 1957. There, him and his wife established VIGNELLI ASSOCIATES in 1971, where the company did a whole array of design projects from advertising, identity, packaging, industrial, interior and architectural. His major breakthrough came through Unimark International, which became the largest design firm and designed iconic logos such as American Airlines, Bloomingdales, and Knoll. To him, design should be all about clarity, and he is a huge fan of using Helvetica.



To me, I agree to his sentiment to a certain extent.


I agree that the clarity makes the logo designs look more chic and modern. For instance, the simplicity of the Bloomingdales logo makes it look minimalist, showing that the department store company wants to project an image of practicality and stylishness, through the kerning’s size which allows the individual letters to breathe, and the ‘overlap’ of the two ‘o’s, suggesting that it is an intentional artistic and stylish choice.


Even in the American Airlines logo, it’s simplicity makes the design very adaptable to a lot of different backgrounds and heights. For instance, when the plane is taking off or is flying in the sky, the words American Airlines are very clear and appear well in such large scale. It is also adaptable to backgrounds of different colours and patterns, because of it’s use of solid and primary colours. For me, think that this is why American Airlines did not change their logo for almost 50 years, as it is a timeless design.


However, i would also think that the use of simple design lacks spirit and personality.


Image result for personality logo


For example, the above logos above have personality in the typeface. In Toys’ R’ Us, it shows a more playful and kid friendly logo but in TIME, it gives a more serious vibe from it’s use of a more modern serrif font. I would say that Massimo Vignelli’s designs would be considered economic for it’s practicality.


However, i feel that every typeface has it’s time and place. Even though massimo’s work can be used for all occasions for its practicality and neutrality, but we all deseve a little more fun now and then.




For the first time, i didn’t really know what to expect from the typography class. this is because i never really understood why it is a specialisation and a specific career path that people choose, because my experience in typography has always been a guessing game. whenever i did posters for my workplace, my supervisors also didn’t care much of what typeface i used, as long as it looked nice and could be read easily. thats why i did not really know what to expect for the class, and wanted to explore what else typography can offer me and learn more about it. As for my group allocation, it was interesting because i had never worked with any of them except for Jenson. Reuben, AJ, and SiQi were from a clique of friends, and Jenson and I were from a different clique. but all in all, we are all friendly to each other, and i already knew of their working style, and felt that i’ll be able to work with them.

TYPE IN THE WILD || Typography


For this assignment, I looked through the images that I had collected in my phone throughout the years. I think it would be interesting to look at all the images of type that i have taken but never really paid attention to.

  • Transitional Serif: from my Encyclopedia of The Amazing World of Nature

While it was difficult to tell, I was able to classify this as a transitional serrif as it had a vertical stress on the O, and had bracketed serifs. For me, I felt that the use of the transitional serif is appropriate here because the book is about prehistoric to the modern history of nature. I thought that the use of transitional serif is interesting because it is a typefont that is in between eras, between the old style and modern.

  • Slab Serif: on a tote bag i got from the Singapore Philatelic Museum

I could identify this typeface classification from the thick square serifs and overall uniformed thickness. As I got this bag at a children’s museum, i felt that this typeface is playful and fun, making the choice appropriate as it still professional enough.

  • Old Style Serif: A book I found in the ADM Library

This was the most difficult to find as it was not a popular typeface classification to use, but i finally found one in the ADM library, on a book talking about some really old guy. I could tell this was an old style because of the serif, and the diagonal stress on the letter O in the name Simon. I felt its appropriate because it was in relation to the content of the book.

  • Modern Serif: From the gate at Coney Island

While I was cycling on Coney island, the gate had a huge “CONEY ISLAND” on it’s facade, and it is a modern typeface classification because the difference between the thin and thick stresses were more drastic, and there is a vertical stress and unbracketed serif. I guess it was appropriate, as coney island at the time had just been refurbished as a tourist destination, but still wanted to remain as a classic place.


  • Grotesk: From a book I read during the holidays

I always felt that these kind of typefaces are very neutral and boring, but what the cover artist did was to add colour and texture to the font they used. It is very uniformed, and the curves in the R and C look very symmetrical. It is an okay font to be used for a book about murder I guess, it keeps the book looking modern instead of like the cheesy Mr.Midnight covers.

  • Geometric: From an exhibition from the National Design Centre

I could see the very circular shapes in the letter Os, and triangular shapes in the inside of the letter Ms. This is why i classified it as a geometric sans serif, as it looked closely similar to Futura. Being at the national design centre, and the exhibition featuring futuristic and surreal fashion pieces, it makes sense to me why they would use the typeface classification.

  • Humanist: On a box of Kinder Bueno chocolates

I bought my mom a box of chocolates for her to use for her baking, and i found that the word “chocolate” is an italicised of a humanist typeface. I guess it does give a very friendly vibe (is vibe the proper term to use here? im not so sure whats the more scientific term for this), making the box of chocolates look like its affordable. I could tell it was a humanist because the curves are not completely symmetrical.

  • Black Letter: From a comic book that i read during the holidays

In a comic book that i read during the holidays, i found the use of a typeface from the blackletter classification. This was an appropriate use because the story takes place in the olden days like with knights and kings and everything. While it was more decorative, i figured that it would be classified as a black letter because the repeated letters are consisted with one another.

  • Script: On a fondant i bought for my mom

I could identify that it was a script because it looked all elegant and classy, and the letters were connected with each other. Being on a tub of fondant, the use of this font suggests ideas for more elegant events, like for weddings and henna parties.

  • Cursive: At a sign at a cosmetics shop

Here, while the letters were handwritten, they were not joined together. I don’t know if the choice of the typeface is important to the fact that it was cosmetics, because a more modern font would be appropriate for fashion and cosmetic products.

  • Decorative: An arcade game for children

For this, i went to the arcade with my friends, and for the title of this arcade machine, it is made out of a decorative font. This was more decorative because the letters were inconsistent with each other, and they had texture and design that was different for every letter. i guess this would be appropriate for the title because it makes the game look fun and for children.



It was interesting to see all the different typefaces around me that i have never paid attention to. I guess i have always taken it for granted, but now that i learnt that typefaces are important to the brand identity of certain companies, or maybe even play a part in the readability of something, i’m more aware of the type of fonts being used.