Marcello Minale – Amazing Italian Designer

Marcello Minale

‘Good designers do something amazing and repeat themselves throughout their careers. Bad designers reinvent themselves every six months.


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Marcello Minale was born in Tripoli on December 15 1938 and educated at the Technical Institute of Naples from where he went on to study graphic design at the Industrial Design School in Helskinki.

minale tattersfieldMinale came to London from his native Italy in 1962  and founded Minale, Tattersfield and Partners in 1964 with Brian Tattersfield, whom he met when both men were working for the advertising agency Young and Rubicam. Minale was particularly pleased with the name of the company which combined the Neapolitan Minale with the Yorkshire Tattersfield. The firm brought a new intelligence and subtlety to the industry. Minale was creatively daring, but an astute and careful businessman who understood his place in the market.

He married first, in 1965 (dissolved 1974), Ebba Oljemark; they had a son. He married secondly, in 1975, to Roberta Broadbridge,  and they had two sons.

Minale Tattersfield

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The firm built up a large client list, applying Minale’s maxim of simplicity, consistency and discipline to every job. In 1972 they were graphic design consultants to Milton Keynes, with a brief of softening the new town’s architecture.

Minale Tattersfield’s imaginative and colorful design was seen in the branding and packaging of companies including Nestle, Kodak, Armani and British Rail.

In the 1980s Minale resisted the temptation into which many design companies fell of over-expanding to the point of bankruptcy. He believed that a good idea did not need selling, and applied this principle to everything he did, from the signs and literature of the Imperial War Museum to his redesign of Hammersmith Underground station.

Minale took great pride in his firm’s survival. He liked to recall how they had begun with one small room, two people and one pencil, but by this year they could boast 18 offices, 160 people and 15,782 pencils – pencils being so important that they became their trademark and their logo was defined by the scribbled pencil mark.

With the success of his consultancy he became an influential figure. He was not afraid to speak his mind and in 1997 he attracted controversy when he wrote to The Daily Telegraph criticizing the new corporate identity of British Airways, which included dropping British colors and a coat of arms on tailfins in favor of zebra-stripes and other abstract patterns.

“It is easy to see where this brief came from,” he wrote, “and why it was so well received. This is the kind of concept that is easy to sell at board level because most major companies want to be global. But the traveling public want reassurance when they entrust their lives to a carrier company. We like to fly Lufthansa because of German reliability and engineering; Swiss Air for punctuality and precision. I envisage,” Minale concluded, “that within two years a new brief will emerge: BA wants to be an international British company.” His prediction proved correct.

He was a regular jury member and past president (1981-2) of the Designers and Art Directors Association in London and his consultancy has won 13 Silver Awards from the Association and a Gold Award from the Art Directors Club of New York. In 1988, he and Brian Tattersfield received the President’s Award from the Designers and Art Directors Association.

Minale was a mentor to many young designers. A favorite phrase of his was “keep moving”, and his energy, thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit inspired many who worked with him.

His other interests included Sculling and  had been a member for 15 years of the Tideway Sculling School, of which he became president. He won a silver medal for rowing at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Despite living in Britain for over 35 years, he still seemed very Italian, retaining a strong accent. He loved old cars and motorcycles (he had so many that he did not know where they were parked). He took great pride in his family.

” Among Minale’s books on design were How to Run a Successful Multi-Disciplinary Design Company (1991), The Leader of the Pack (1993) and All Together Now (1998). His most recent book had been ‘How to Design a Successful Petrol Station’.

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He was killed in France aged 62 and there was controversy at the time of his death concerning whether he had been murdered by someone in the Sculling club.

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