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–Bruce Mau

Bruce Mau “Design is the method by which we change things. So if you’re thinking about changing things, you’re going to use a design method or it’s going to be accidental. Accidental may or mat not be helpful, but design certainly will be. Design is about making things exactly as you want them.”

Graphic designer Bruce Mau, born October 25th, 1959, has been changing the world of graphic design as we know it through his use of forward thinking designs, as well as problem solving projects. Mau’s reputation as a savvy creative tactician has led to a very unorthodox client list, from Guatemalan leaders looking to create a brighter future for their people to Arizona State University, whose president is working with him to redesign higher education.1 Mau has developed a method and understanding that, to create change in the world, the elements of design can be applied to the way we as a whole interact and communicate with the world. Showing designers as well as clients how one can add to the 1 Robinson, Joe. “Innovation Gurus: Bruce Mau and John Kao |”


collective nature of design through contribution and that we have the ability to use our designs to impact the world. In the year 1985 Bruce Mau founded Bruce Mau Design, a design firm that is founded on beliefs in the power of design to affect change and works with clients to transform how they think, talk about themselves and appear in the world. With the introduction of the design firm, it also provided an impetus for other projects such as The Bureau of Doing Something About It, The Massive Change Network, The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, The Secret to Making a Difference and many others. Many of the projects he takes on carry a heavy hand in the collaborative, and subsequently, the message as a whole. “He believes the classical structure that still dominates business is very much about fear and control; that the old style of leadership based on status, authority and power is ultimately limited in what we can achieve. When one can inspire a big group of people and allow for leadership to be everywhere in the group, the power and the network of leadership is distributed.2 2 Jermyn, Diane . “Bruce Mau uses design to create positive change - The Globe and Mail.” Home - The Globe and Mail.

(From Left to Right)

The Bureau of Doing Something About it. The Secret to Making a Differnece. MTV Loft. The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth. Massive Change. Coca-Cola Live Positively Program


The Bureau of Doing Something About it In 2010, the Toronto Complaints Choir, produced as part of the 2010-2011 World Stage season at Harbourfront Centre, collected over 1000 grievances, gripes, and annoyances from people across the city. The choir transformed these troubles into a siren song for the disenchanted. Bruce Mau Design invited the public in to visit the pop-up studio, inquire, collaborate, ponder, and generally meddle in whatever way they liked:

consequently realizing that there were, more than anything, the use of design as a message of empowerment. Demonstrating that anyone can question the way things are, that anyone can work to make things better, that anyone can be a designer, and making public the process in looking for solutions becoming one of the best things achieved. Democratizing the power of design is perhaps our most meaningful solution.1 1 “The Bureau of Doing Something About It.” Bruce Mau Design. http://www.brucemaudesign. com/4817/165616/work/the-bureau-of-doing-something-about-it (accessed April 27, 2012).

MTV Loft In order to recreats MTV as a cultural force, MTV Loft was created, where team members were removed from their dayto-day roles and put into an environment where over an extended period of time and MTV was reborn with new purpose and direction.

Thus immerged MTV Manifesto – capturing the essence of the brand from within – through which MTV is rediscovering its authentic connection to their core audience and returning to its identity and cultural relevance.

Massive Change “Whether we realize it or not, we live in a designed world. The question is: will this be a design for destruction or for a sustainable new world that we can safely hand down to our children and our children’s children?”1 1 “Massive Change.” Bruce Mau Design. (accessed April 27, 2012).


Massive Change is a celebration of our global capacities but also a cautious look at our limitations. It encompasses the utopian and dystopian possibilities of this emerging world, in which even nature is no longer outside the reach of our manipulation.2 2 “MASSIVE CHANGE » What is Massive Change?.” MASSIVE CHANGE . about (accessed April 27, 2012).

Coca-Cola Live Positive Program Live Positively represents CocaCola’s commitment to making a difference in the world by redesigning the way they work so that sustainability is part of everything they do. “Sustainability has to be part of everything we do, in the areas of water, emissions, waste and recycling. Our goal is simple. We will try and give back as much as

we take or, where possible, more than we take. This is what we call Live Positively.” The goal is to grow the business, not the carbon in manufacturing operations. Improvements in the energy efficiency and reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases in cold drink equipment. And to safely return to nature and communities an amount of water equivalent to what has been used in all beverages and their production.1 1 Coca-Cola UK. “Live Positively : Sustainability : Youth Work & Community Projects : About Us - Coca-Cola GB.” Home of Coca‑Cola UK : Diet Coke : Coke Zero - Coca-Cola GB. (accessed April 27, 2012).

The Secret to Making a Difference The mission for this project was to produce a book of quotations celebrating the human capacity to make a difference. Bruce Mau Design organized The Secret To Making A Difference around eleven overarching themes, pertinent to making a difference, including Attitude, Vision, Persistence,

Audacity, Love, and Change. The end result is conceptually ambitious, technically complex, and really quite delightful. Developed a distinct design approach for each section, including 3D effects, invisible ink, an embedded flipbook, and removable objects (bumper stickers, tattoos, stencils, etc). In this increasingly digital age, it’s still incredibly rewarding to push the bounds of the printed book.

The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth This design manifesto was first written by Bruce Mau in 1998, articulating his beliefs,

strategies, and motivations. The manifesto outlines Bruce Mau Design’s design process.


Allow events to change you. Forget about good. Process is more important than outcome. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Go deep. Capture accidents. Study. Drift. Begin anywhere. Everyone is a leader. Harvest ideas. Keep moving. Slow down. Don’t be cool. Ask stupid questions. Collaborate. _____________________. Stay up late. Work the metaphor. Be careful to take risks. Repeat yourself. Make your own tools. Stand on someone’s shoulders. Avoid software. Don’t clean your desk. Don’t enter awards competitions. Read only left-hand pages. Make new words. Think with your mind. Organization = Liberty. Don’t borrow money. Listen carefully. Take field trips. Make mistakes faster. Imitate. Scat. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it. Explore the other edge. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Avoid fields. Laugh. Remember. Power to the people.


–The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth



–Bruce Mau

Bibliography Coca-Cola UK. “Live Positively : Sustainability : Youth Work & Community Projects : About Us - Coca-Cola GB.” Home of Coca‑Cola UK : Diet Coke : Coke Zero - Coca-Cola GB. http://www. (accessed April 27, 2012). Jermyn, Diane . “Bruce Mau uses design to create positive change - The Globe and Mail.” Home - The Globe and Mail. http://www. innovation/article1533374.ece (accessed April 13, 2012). “MASSIVE CHANGE » What is Massive Change?.” MASSIVE CHANGE . (accessed April 27, 2012). “Massive Change.” Bruce Mau Design. http://www.brucemaudesign. com/4817/88330/work/massive-change (accessed April 27, 2012). Robinson, Joe. “Innovation Gurus: Bruce Mau and John Kao |” Business News & Strategy For Entrepreneurs | (accessed April 10, 2012). “The Bureau of Doing Something About It.” Bruce Mau Design. http:// (accessed April 27, 2012).

Designed and written by Shadell Segree Composed in Arial, by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders in 1982. Printed from a Canon Image Runner onto 40# text Copyright © 2012 Shadell Segree, Portland, Maine, Maine College of Art



Design With a Vision  

Graphic designer Bruce Mau

Design With a Vision  

Graphic designer Bruce Mau