Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Massimo Vignelli

Iconic American leader American Martin Luther King, Jr. and iconic Italian graphic designer Massimo Vignelli seem like an odd pair. But a visit to Atlanta's deeply-moving Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site also begs a bow to the late Massimo Vignelli. Why? Because both men believed in systems. While Dr. King galvanized the U.S. with his charisma, eloquence and philosophy inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, King also made sure that his colleagues and followers maintained a clear and consistent plan. Fascinating artefacts in the MLK Jr. museum include instructions to organizers of and participants in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: stay peaceful, ignore provocation, spread the gospel of non-violence. Massimo Vignelli's 1970s Unigrid System for the National Park Service ruled/s* that all material follow a format—the graphic design equivalent of a map to stay on message, thereby ensuring clear and effective communication. Massimo's system, designed decades ago, is still in use in U.S. National Parks and sites.

*Pun intended.

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