Bruce Mau (born 25 Oct 1959, Sudbury) is a Canadian designer whose work addresses the design culture that permeates all aspects of everyday life and allows Bruce Mau Design (BMD), a Toronto design studio, has gained wide recognition for a broad range of projects, including identity articulation, research and conceptual programming, print design and production, environmental signage and wayfinding systems, and exhibition and product design.
In 1995 the studio released S,M,L,XL, a 1300-page compendium of projects and texts generated by a joint effort with Rem Koolhaas' Office for Metropolitan Architecture. In 1998, Mau wrote An Incomplete Manifesto of Growth which exemplified his beliefs, motivations and strategies. Life Style, a monograph on design culture and the work of the studio, was published in 2000.
Recently Mau's studio has extended into dance performances, video installations, and the fields of architecture, urban planning, landscape design.
Bruce Mau's Lecture
The lecture was setup as dialogue, among Lee Bey of SOM my former professor in Architectural Thought, Stanley Tigerman the infamous one time director of UIC's school of Architecture who now runs Archeworks and frankly our closest mindset to Bruce Mau's. Lecture was held at the Art Institute as part of the opening for Chicago's Great Places and Spaces tours and lectures, going on now! And its all free!
The lecture focused on design and how “Design” and designers need to stop focusing on the visual (as the current trend), graphic designers need to stop being trend monkeys and architects need to quit being just exterior decorators, the people that create the reality the public lives in need to start applying and arranging the way we think and exercise the concept of “design” around practical objectives through working by design economies, directing capacities to produce a reality. Here are some jotted down points which he addressed to the room of architects and urged us to take on this creed (which I think is incredibly forward thinking and thus why this man is one of my idols)
-In terms of ecological design : we can either make money by getting there last or succeed by making it first
-everything is now a city, there are only really zoning : globalization has now fully manifested the global city with zoning for “rural” “urban” “suburban” “natural”
-Sustainability, sustainable architecture and design requires us to work at a higher resolution, and it is inevitable that eventually we will adapt this as the status quo, its already happening, Chicago is at the forefront of this movement in North America , Toronto is edging in and Bruce proposes a friendly competition to see which city can build and create most sustainable... (see first point)
-The park is a license for stupidity (take over one place, make it nice, but trash everything else,) The little things grow to serve as model and we need to pay attention to the relationships between the many details of the spaces we inhabit.
-As designers we need to think in a way that levels the playing field for all of us
-Act as a critical mass
-Dispose of the myth that everything is limitless, work by the ethics of reliability and interdependence
-Design strategically with distributed capacities, become a social entrepenuer
-Addressing the issue of property titles and affect on accessing the global market
-Shining Path: designing infrastructure for circulation, liberating values to support context less entrepreneurs as in supporting the Peruvian peasant for his ingenuity
-Backlash the real estate developers
-Differences among opportunities for classes, people, etc are COLLAPSING not widening, access to global possibility is growing and we need to identify where the disparity is most pressing and apply our skills there first
-Innovate through service, redesign the workflow to short circuit
-work in the temporal dimension : How quickly can you move?
-Work in more collaborative design efforts: cross medium, cross “designer” specialties, being able to work in a multitude of facets meaning you can access the best and spread the most potential
-Build global sensitivity through your architecture and design, this is critical for global realization of identity and is limited by it as well
-WE CANNOT HAVE RIGHTS WITHOUT OBLIGATION. WE HAVE A CONSTITUTION OF RIGHTS WE SHOULD DRAFT A CREED OF RESPONSIBILITES WE NEED TO ADHERE TO AS A GLOBAL COMMUNITY (significant if you keep in mind the most important realistic fact : that nothing is limitless)
The lecture was refreshing. I suggest anyone interested to pick up Massive Changes, which documents some of the most leading innovators in practical and realistic design and their products and moves that are here and now and being implemented. I was surprised there weren't more people but I suppose the optimism and sometimes utopia rhetoric of Mau hasn't caught on with the people currently monopolizing the field. Mau stresses that the people to carry through on responding and being proactive to the feedbacks of our reality lies no longer in his generation but in ours. And it is us, the youth and our children that have the opportunity to really affect the way we construct and build our reality and service the reality of others. It was a tall cool drink of water. Mau was way ahead and above Bey's and Tigerman's heads but alas most visionaries are.
Being at this lecture helped me grow some faith from a diminishing state for this profession that I have devoted the last 6 year of my life to. Knowing that there are leaders who think in sync with my personal convictions is refreshing and a driving force. These are the kinds of people Id like to gain insight from.
Edit... Well from posting this lecture across other boards and blogs Im getting quite the feeback, lots of "quack" comments and even links posted back to me that break down each and every single line of anything bruce mau has to say into rubbish. I never would have guessed that he drew such black and white reactions from people. Makes the whole phenomenon sortof intruiging... nevertheless, I think although he speaks with some uncommon choices in analogy or delivery, the fact that he draws such polarized reaction makes it something to pay attention to. Plus I find some of his holistic approaches pleasant. But to be honest I havent read or heard him enough to form a statment. Wasn't there a time when everyone despised Ghery?