We have to make a distinction between design and art. If you are an artist, you can do anything you want. It’s perfectly all right. Design serves a different purpose. If in the process of solving a problem you create a problem, obviously, you did not design.
Probably the most interesting thing I learned from Vignelli Associates is that a lot of the things about design that tend to get designers really interested aren’t that important.
You see, Massimo would arrive at things from an ideological point of view. For instance, he has always had this thing about there being only five good typefaces: Garamond 3, Futura, Century, Helvetica and Bodini. I agreed with this, not so much as a moral issue, but for the practical reason that ordinary people like my mom could only distinguish between five typefaces, and that the time some designers would spend splitting hairs between Garamond and Bembo and Sabon was a waste. Likewise all the attention designers give to clever layouts and putting the page numbers in a cool place, when ordinary people just want to read the words and look at the pictures. Massimo taught me to focus on the big ideas, and I thought that big ideas were what connected with the greatest number of people.
I have a visual mind. A visual mind is interested in anything you see: things, objects, nature. A literary mind is interested in people: more prone to thinking than looking visually. They like to read. They like to analyze things from a psychological point of view. Writers like this write about isolation, and some write about being together. Each one investigates one action of the mind. And the mind, being as complex as it is, is an endless source of investigation.
— From a 2007 Interview featured on Design Observer
The computer is like a pencil. It is just a tool. The pencil is a submissive tool. Leave it there and the pencil is totally dead. It doesn’t offer anything; you have to guide it. But the computer is a seductive tool. It offers you incredible options, but your work can become a total disaster if you don’t have an idea to begin with.