Design Icon

Design Icon: Massimo Vignelli’s Stendig Calendar

by Maxwell Tielman


Design: The Stendig Calendar

Designer: Massimo Vignelli (Italian, 1931—)

Date: 1966

Country of Origin: United States

Manufacturer: Originally the Stendig furniture company, today produced by The Cromwell Company in Nashville, TN

Background: Even if you haven’t heard his name, you are likely to be familiar with the iconic work of Italian graphic designer Massimo Vignelli. Considered a living legend by many design historians, Vignelli is responsible for some of the last century’s most enduring and influential graphic programs, like the identities for American Airlines, IBM, Bloomingdales, and the New York City subway system (still in use today!). A proponent of simple, straightforward visual communication, Vignelli believes in a refined and oftentimes distilled graphic sensibility. All of his graphic work relies upon a system of uniform grids for layout and, with a few exceptions, uses only a handful of timeless typefaces—Bodoni, Times New Roman, Futura, and the typeface for which Vignelli is probably most identified with, Helvetica. Vignelli’s Stendig Calendar was originally commissioned by the Stendig Furniture Company in 1966, while Vignelli was working as part of the Unimark International design firm. The calendar, which featured bold Helvetica type on oversized 3×4 paper, was an instant design classic, welcomed into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art even before it was introduced to the public. The calendar remains in production to this day and is a staple in households around the world.

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg.

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  • i covet one of these so hard, and i know great design is worth paying for, but … i just can’t justify spending that much on a calendar (and i’m pretty sure my husband would swallow his tongue in disbelieving rage if i did…). looks like they’re sold out already for 2014, though, so fortunately i can’t even be tempted. :)

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