What if the questions surrounding design turned out to be the big questions? What if life itself became a design project? What if the welfare of the entire human race became design’s practical objective? What if we succeeded?
These are just some of the questions designer Bruce Mau will address April 8 when he gives the 2009 Kenneth A. Spencer Memorial Lecture, presented by The Commons
. Mau, principle of Bruce Mau Design and founder of the Institute without Boundaries, will speak at 7:30 PM in the Kansas Union’s Woodruff Auditorium. The following day, Mau will lead a 9:30 AM conversation in The Commons @ Spooner Hall. Both events are part of the University Lecture Series at The Commons, and are free and open to the public.
Mau charted the strange and challenging new terrain of the 21st century in his groundbreaking 2004 book (Phaidon Press) Massive Change, which has become nothing short of a design cult movement. For many, Massive Change effectively defines the progressive ethos that has infiltrated 21st century creativity.
“We will explore design economies….We will tap into the global commons….We will distribute capacity….We will embrace paradox….We will reshape our future,” Mau writes in the foreword. Intended to provoke debate and discussion about the future of design culture, Massive Change is a modern illustrated primer on the new inventions, technologies, and events that are affecting human culture worldwide.
“Design has prevailed as one of the world’s most powerful forces,” Mau writes. “It perches us at the beginning of an unprecedented period of human possibility, where all economies and ecologies hold the capacity to merge as global, relational and interconnected.”
The objective of Massive Change is to start a global movement of people committed to supporting a new vision of sustainable life on the planet. Envisioned as a collective project, Massive Change has become the optimistic design engine for the Bruce Mau Design practice. Well-respected for broadening the idea of design, Mau has worked with countries such as Guatemala and Denmark to envision their futures.
Mau’s lecture coincides with several environmentally themed, collaborative exhibitions at the University, all centered at the Spencer Museum of Art. These include a virtual art and education project in the online world Second Life, plus real-world exhibitions in the galleries: Climate Change at the Poles, A Greenland Glacier: The Scale of Climate Change, Photographs by Terry Evans, and Trees & Other Ramifications: Branches in Nature & Culture.
Bruce Mau (born October 25, 1959, Sudbury, Ontario) studied at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, but left prior to graduation in order to join the Fifty Fingers design group in 1980. He stayed there for two years, before crossing the ocean for a brief sojourn at Pentagram in the UK. Returning to Toronto a year later, he became part of the founding triumvirate of Public Good Design and Communications. Soon after, the opportunity to design Zone 1/2: The Contemporary City presented itself and he left to establish his own studio, Bruce Mau Design, Inc. Mau remained the design director of Zone Books until 2004 since that first publication, to which he has added duties as co-editor of Swerve Editions, a Zone imprint. From 1991 to 1993, he also served as Creative Director of I.D. magazine.
In 1995, Mau received considerable attention for the award-winning and critically acclaimed S,M,L,XL (Monicelli Press). Designed and conceived by Mau and the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the 1344-page compendium of projects and texts was generated by Pritzker Prize-winning Koolhaas' Office for Metropolitan Architecture.
From 1996 to 1999 Mau was the Associate Cullinan Professor at Rice University School of Architecture in Houston. He has also been a thesis advisor at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design; artist in residence at California Institute of the Arts; and a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. He has lectured widely across North America and Europe, and currently serves on the International Advisory Committee of the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio.
In addition, Bruce is an Honorary Fellow of the Ontario College of Art and Design and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art. He was awarded the Chrysler Award for Design Innovation in 1998, and the Toronto Arts Award for Architecture and Design in 1999. In 2001 he received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design.
Building on the practice of learning by doing, Mau founded the Institute without Boundaries in 2003, a studio-based postgraduate program in partnership with George Brown – Toronto City College. The IwB, formed out of the conviction that the future demands a new breed of designer, became the engine to produce Massive Change, an ambitious, multi-venue exhibition on the possibilities of design culture. Massive Change is also a book, an online forum, an education model as well as a Visionaries Symposium. The Massive Change exhibition opened to critical acclaim at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2003, and has since toured to the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. As of 2007, Mau was in residence at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in the Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Design Objects Department.