Getty/NYC Transit
May 27, 2014 04:25 PM

Famed graphic designer Massimo Vignelli died on Tuedsay according to his longtime friend Michael Bierut.

Originally from Milan, the 83-year-old artist inspired many during his long and creative career based in New York City. While some may not recognize Vignelli’s face, his work has become part of the city’s image.

Bloomingdale's shopping bag
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty

Vignelli is the creator of the classic Bloomingdale’s “brown bag” logo. The strikingly simple style he originally crafted in the early 1970s is still used by the department store today. Vignelli’s résumé also includes the design of the interior of Manhattan’s Saint Peter’s Church and the logo used by American Airlines until 2013.

Saint Peter's Church
Courtesy Saint peter's Church

Even with these accomplishments, Vignelli’s most cited – and most controversial – creation is his 1972 New York City subway map. To make the diagram easier to read, he depicted the subway lines individually and only in 90 and 45 degree angles. The designer reinvented some of the city’s geography to suit this style, including making Central Park square and adjusting NYC’s street grid. Vignelli’s map was eventually replaced in 1979; the original streamlined design is now hanging in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York City subway map
Courtesy NYC Transit

Vignelli’s son, Luca, publicly shared that his father was seriously ill earlier this month, reports The Wall Street Journal. In response, admirers of Vignelli sent numerous letters and art pieces to the designer’s home, as well as creating the Twitter hashtag #dearmassimo. Luca said his father was touched by the emotional outpouring he received during his last days.

Massimo Vignelli’s breadth and variety of work follows his own belief that a true designer should be able to create anything, regardless of size and usage. His impressive portfolio of iconic work and the many designers he inspired serve as enduring vestiges of Vignelli’s passion and ingenuity.

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