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80's Style Symposium videotapes

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0585

Scope and Contents

Videotapes of the symposium speakers:

April 2, 1987
80’s Style Symposium – Edward Lucie-Smith presentation, 60:00 mins.
April 2, 1987
80’s Style Symposium – Ettore Sottsass Jr. presentation, 60:00 mins.
April 3, 1987
80’s Style Symposium – Agnes Denes presentation, 60:00 mins.
April 3, 1987
80’s Style Symposium – Massimo Vignelli presentation, 60:00 mins.
April 3, 1987
80’s Style Symposium – Panel Discussion, 85:00 mins.


  • Creation: April 1-3, 1987


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Historical Information on The 80's Style Symposium

The 80’s Style Symposium was held at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) from April 1 to April 3, 1987. The symposium took place in Ingle Auditorium, the College Alumni Union, and the Bevier Gallery. Art and design professionals and students discussed trends within architecture, design, arts and crafts in the 1980’s and how these products were reflective of the culture of the 1980’s. There were six renowned artists and designers who ran presentations and discussion panels for the 80’s Style Symposium. Edward Lucie-Smith (author and critic), Ettore Sottsass, Jr. (architect and designer), Massimo Vignelli (designer), Wendell Castle (furniture artist), Agnes Dense (conceptual artist), and Albert Paley (sculptor and craftsman) spoke about their ideas about 1980’s style in their own work and creative processes.

A key goal of the 80’s Style Symposium was to assess the artists’ styles and how they influenced 1980’s culture through their works. Registration for the event went through Diane Reed of RIT’s Office of Training and Professional Development at 50 W. Main St. in downtown Rochester. The visiting artists had the opportunity to attend a gala reception on April 1 and a banquet held in honor of the symposium. Tours of artist-in-residence Wendell Castle’s and Albert Paley’s studios were given as well.

Biographical Information on John Edward McKenzie Lucie-Smith

John Edward McKenzie Lucie-Smith is a British writer, poet, art critic, curator, broadcaster and author of exhibition catalogues.

Biographical Information on Wendell Castle

Wendell Castle was an American furniture artist and a leading figure in American craft. He is often credited with being the father of the art furniture movement.

Concurrently, Wendell Castle and Albert Paley were exhibiting contemporary wooden, aluminum, and bronze works in the Bevier Gallery on the Henrietta campus. Their exhibition was sponsored by the College of Fine and Applied Arts in conjunction with the international 80's Style Symposium. There were 12 pieces by Castle and 13 by Paley within the exhibition. Castle’s furniture works during this period were reflective of a variety of influences from ancient architecture such as pyramids to contemporary popular culture. Castle used illusion in his work to make his furniture appear as though it was defying gravity. Paley’s work was large in scale during this period and he often shaped raw materials, such as steel and metal, into abstract shapes for his artwork. This exhibition was presented from March 16 until April 5, 1987.

Biographical Information on Ettore Sottsass

Ettore Sottsass was an Italian architect and designer of the late 20th century. His body of designs included furniture, jewellery, glass, lighting and office machine design. Born in 1917, he died in 2007.

Biographical Information on Agnes Denes

Agnes Denes is a Hungarian-born American conceptual artist based in New York. She is known for works in a wide range of media - from poetry and philosophy writings, to complex hand and computer rendered diagrams, sculpture, and international environmental installations.

Biographical Information on Albert Paley

Albert Paley is an American modernist metal sculptor. He started his career as a goldsmith and taught at RIT. However, he is best known for his large metallic sculptures such as the one on RIT's campus titled "The Sentinel."

Biographical Information on Massimo and Lella Vignelli

Massimo and Lella Vignelli are renowned Italian Designers and the Vignelli Center for Design Studies established in RIT, 2010 was dedicated to the couple. Massimo Vignelli was born on January 10, 1931 in Milan, Italy and passed away at the age of 83 on May 27, 2014 in Manhattan, NYC. He attended Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera for art and earned an Architecture degree from the Politecnico de Milano in 1953. From 1953-1957, Massimo attended the School of Architecture and University of Venice. He received a fellowship from 1957-1960 to study in the United States and married Lella Vignelli in 1957.

Lella Vignelli was born on August 13, 1934 in Udine, Italy and passed away at the age of 82 on December 22, 2016 in Manhattan, NYC. She studied at University of Venice’s School of Architecture and received a fellowship to study at MIT’s School of Architecture in the late 1950s. After Massimo and Lella’s marriage, they remained in NYC and co-founded their design firm, Vignelli Associates. Throughout their careers, the Vignellis worked on furniture design, product design, graphic design, interior design, package design, and many more areas of the design field. Their clients included many recognized companies such as IBM, Bloomingdales, American Airlines, etc.

Not only did Massimo and Lella work in the field of design, they contributed to and significantly impacted design to the modern day. Over their lifetime, the couple received many awards and recognitions for their accomplishments. Massimo was a part of many Industrial Design associations and he and his wife were in a documentary called “Design is One: The Vignellis” in 2012. The Vignelli Center for Design Studies is an archive housing all their design work donated from the couple. Located on the RIT campus, the Vignelli Center is open to all faculty and students for research, education, and general viewing.



0.5 Linear Feet (5 videotapes in 1 document box)




Collection of five videotapes of a three-day symposium sponsored by RIT College of Imaging Arts and Sciences on April 1-3, 1987. Each tape is a different speaker and the last is a panel discussion with all speakers.


Tapes are arranged by date.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in March 2015.


80’s Style Symposium videotapes
RIT Archives
Jody Sidlauskas
30 March 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA