How Massimo Vignelli makes a book

As part of a new campaign for Mohawk Papers which asks ‘What will you make today?’ designer Massimo Vignelli explains how he makes a book. His discussion of the grid has been turned into an animated video by Pentagram

As part of a new campaign for Mohawk Papers which asks ‘What will you make today?’ designer Massimo Vignelli explains how he makes a book. His discussion of – and reverence for – the grid has been turned into an animated video by Pentagram

Vignelli explains the importance of using an underlying grid structure in any book project he works on. “The grid is,” he says, “the underwear of the book.” In the film, the designer’s sketches for his book on architect Richard Meier are used.

As part of his design process, Vignelli will sketch out a book’s content onto sheets of paper which overlay the grid – drawing each page in pencil, even the contents of every photograph. For Vignelli, this remains the quickest way for him to generate the layout.


Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Aron Fay created the animation for Mohawk as part of their campaign that looks at ‘makers’ and their creative processes. The grid used in the film has also been produced as a limited edition journal from Mohawk, available here.

Project Team: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge and designer; Aron Fay, designer and animator. Drawings by Massimo Vignelli. Audio production by Hillary Frank

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