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Bruce Mau

The Future of Environmental Design

Date Recorded: Feb 18th, 2006
Recorded At: The McGill School of Environment, Montreal, QC
Recorded By: McGill School of Environment
Duration: 1:00  

Topic Background

Bruce Mau has long been associated with big projects and big ideas. His approach has been called “intellectual,” “ambitious,” and “striking,” but Mau doesn’t always ascribe such grandiose visions to his work. According to the designer, he simply chooses to respect the reader, viewer, or participant’s intelligence because, as he puts it, “We contribute a small moment of dignity in a culture that all too often panders to the lowest common denominator and in so doing, insults the intelligence of its citizens.”

Speaker Biography

Toronto-based designer Bruce Mau has collaborated with the world’s leading architects and institutions, artists, writers, entrepreneurs and businesses on a wide diversity of projects ranging from book design to environmental graphics, from product development to programming and exhibitions. Recently his studio, Bruce Mau Design , has been involved in the development of Tree City in Toronto’s Park Downsview, Canada’s first national urban park; Puente de Vida, a museum of biodiversity in Panama City; and the Institute without Boundaries (IwB), a studio-based interdisciplinary postgraduate program in partnership with George Brown – Toronto City College.

The Institute without Boundaries became the engine to produce Massive Change: The Future of Global Design, an enormous, multi-venue exhibition on the intersection of design, technology, culture, science, and civilization, commissioned by the Vancouver Art Gallery. The project takes an optimistic, design oriented look at global social and environmental problems and suggests there are many existing resources and abilities that can be mobilized to improve the global human well-being, in areas such as transportation, cities, and manufacturing . As well as promoting the notion that design can substantially improve the world—Mau allowed the project to draw the conclusion that the present time is “probably the best time in human history to be alive.”

In addition to curating the Massive Change exhibition—which was accompanied by a book of the same title—Mau has written Life Style, a book documenting the creative process at his studio; and collaborated with Rem Koolhaas on the book S,M,L,XL .

Mau has taught at the Rice University School of Architecture in Houston, University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design; the California Institute of the Arts, and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and he holds an honorary Doctor of Letters from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.

For more information about Bruce Mau visit

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