Vignelli Center
for Design Studies
Rochester Institute of Technology

Designer Albert Paley Launches Design Conversations Lectures for 2017-2018


A CIAS Celebration


The Vignelli Center sponsored an all-CIAS Arts event for August 29, 2017 in the University Gallery. Internationally known sculptor Albert Paley spoke on the unity of the arts in his talk titled, “Living at the intersection of Art, Design and Crafts.”


Lecture Follows a Vignelli Intention


Their slogan “Design is One” meant many things to the Massimo and Lella Vignelli. One meaning was that there need not be a separation between the arts but that a creative person should be capable of moving seamlessly between materials and disciplines. Their careers evidenced many creative solutions in media which echo the physical materials present in the College of Imaging Arts & Sciences at RIT, namely metal, ceramics, glass, wood, paper. They created graphic design, product design, furniture, glass, jewelry, tableware, and much more.


In their declining years, as they visited the Vignelli Center for Design Studies, it was their intent to reach out to the different CIAS programs and support them with their expertise. For example, Lella was very interested in getting involved with the glass program. Massimo was supporting development in Industrial Design. They were very interested, as well, in reaching out to the new RIT Architecture program. While it was, unfortunately, too late in their lives to make any of this happen, the potential for community remains. The adage “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” comes to mind. This suggests that CIAS, with its creative programs, is strengthened by considering how the thrust of the academic areas can be unified, even in spirit.




Albert Paley is among the most innovative and important contemporary designers. His work, usually in wrought iron, is highly original and distinctive, often using the vocabulary of the undulating, flowing lines of Art Nouveau, but in a distinctly modern way.


Albert Paley was born in Philadelphia in 1944, attended Tyler School of Art at Temple University and earned an MFA in jewelry and metalsmithing.


Paley began working seriously in wrought iron around 1970. He chose iron because it allowed him to work on a larger scale, and he enjoyed the immediacy of working with and transforming the material.


Paley is the first metal sculptor to receive the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects, the AIA’s highest award to a non-architect. He has been active as an artist for over 30 years. At his studio in Rochester, New York, he and his staff work in a variety of metalworking disciplines. His furniture pieces are distinctive for the way in which he uses metal – usually wrought iron. It is pulled, twisted, coiled, bent and cut so that each piece seems to take on a life of its own.
Pieces by Albert Paley can be found in the permanent collections of many major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University, England, and The British Museum in London.


Albert Paley’s work has been widely published, and he is also a noted international lecturer. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Rochester, in 1989, the State University at Brockport in 1996, and St. Lawrence University in 1997. He holds an endowed chair at the Rochester Institute of Technology.