London gallery Estorick Collection is paying tribute to Franco Grignani with a summer exhibition dedicated to the Italian graphic designer. ‘Franco Grignani: Art as Design 1950-1990’ chronicles the work of Grignani and includes both graphics created for international brands and his more artistic output. It’s the second show of his work in the city this year following an exhibition at M&L Fine Art, which focused on his optical paintings.

Grignani is best known for his streamlined design for the Woolmark logo (a black and white line work representing a ball of yarn), which he created in 1964. In the late 1930s, he set up a graphic design studio in Milan and created logos, advertising campaigns and visuals for brands such as Pirelli and Penguin. His experimental graphics are infused with geometric abstraction, the result of his architecture and mathematics background.

La Frattura Del Rumore, by Franco Grignani, 1990. Courtesy of Archivio Manuela Grignani Sirtoli

This linear style is also at the core of Grignani’s paintings, produced in parallel with his graphics career. Inspired by his experiences with the futurists and featuring early op art examples, the tableaux are produced in an almost exclusively monochromatic black and white palette on photographic card. 

The Estorick show presents over 130 pieces, including paintings and works on paper, and does a poignant job at highlighting Grignani’s humour as a painter and a designer, as well as his penchant for formulae and optical deception.