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Mau, The Designer Forges His Craft As A Tool To Shape The World

Through history art has held the role of an inspirational world shaper. Literature, cinema, painting and sculpture have all conveyed important messages for humanity. The visionary Canadian-born Bruce Mau has dedicated his life to demonstrate how another creative discipline can equally permeate through politics and culture to help build a better tomorrow: design.

Mau, written and directed by Benji & Jono Bergmann, is the first feature-length documentary about the great thinker who initiated a massive action through his Movement For Change.

The young Bruce was raised on a farm. He had to cope with a violent father and his town offered no source of hope. Sudbury was known as the “chemical desert” and NASA trained its astronauts there because it was the closest thing to the moon. A black and white television was the only window to the world of Mau. One day the broadcast of EXPO 67 caught his attention and that was just the beginning of his unstoppable creative mind.

Over the course of his career this exceptional artist, who transcends any traditional categories and doesn’t care about boundaries, showed no fear towards impossible quests. From advising global brands like Coca Cola, to rethinking a 1000-year plan for Islam’s holiest site of Mecca. From collaborating with the greatest museums like MoMA, to rebranding nations such as Denmark and Guatemala. No matter how ambitious the mission, Bruce Mau would always welcome the call for action.

Mau developed his profession harnessing the power of design to create positive change in our world. Various are the interviewees throughout the documentary who chronicle the designer’s remarkable skills and enterprises. Above all there is Bisi Williams, Bruce’s wife, who is also co-founder, designer and chief insights officer of the Massive Change Network.

The Award-winning design critic Alice Rawsthorn and Italian author Paola Antonelli, provide insight to the impact of Mau’s work. Just as Jen Leonard, who is a former co-worker and collaborator on Massive Change; Marc Mathieu, who is was Senior Vice President of Global Brand Marketing at Coca-Cola when Mau created the Live Positively campaign; Prof. Song Xiewei, who collaborated on Bruce’s current Massive project in Beijing; Maria Del Carmen Aceña, the Former minister of Education in Guatemala and social entrepreneur Emilio Mendez, who initiated the ¡Guate Amala! project. From the field of architecture, those who further describe the magnificent work by the designer who thinks outside-the-box are Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and Rem Koolhaas. The latter co-authored the legendary book S, M, L, XL with Bruce Mau.

The efficacy of the film is the way it explores not only Mau’s unlikely creative journey but his ever-optimistic push to tackle the world’s biggest problems with design. He is not a utopian, but a pragmatic and proactive pioneer of transformation design. Mau claims that the world is produced and people have a role in that production. According to him we all possess the ability to be agents of change and we should never relent in forging a better future tackling the greatest challenges like climate, overpopulation, and disease.

Mau believes that today is the best time in history to be alive and work. We have more access to knowledge, wealth, possibility, mobility, connection. Design is a mindset, that we should all introduce in the way we conduct our existences: Mau’s Weltanschauung teaches humanity that you can design the time of your life.

Final Grade: B

Check out more of Chiara’s articles.

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Works as film critic and journalist who covers stories about culture and sustainability. With a degree in Political Sciences, a Master’s in Screenwriting & Film Production, and studies at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, Chiara has been working in the press since 2003. Italian by blood, British by upbringing, fond of Japanese culture since the age of 7, once a New Yorker always a New Yorker, and an avid traveller, Chiara collaborates with international magazines and radio-television networks. She is also a visual artist, whose eco-works connect to her use of language: the title of each painting is inspired by the materials she upcycles on canvas. Her ‘Material Puns’ have so far been exhibited in four continents, across ten countries. She is a dedicated ARTivist, donating her works to the causes and humanitarians she supports, and is Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan.


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