CLASS READING – Bruce Mau, Imagining the Future

Read for class discussion (9/28)- Imagining the Future, Bruce Mau. Download the pdf here if you can’t see it in this blog post.etezal_mau_imaginefuture_Page_1

Let me begin with an admission. I am a designer, which

means I cannot afford the luxury of cynicism. Designers are

called upon to come up with solutions to problems of every

imaginable description, from designing a machine to provide

kidney dialysis at home to creating an interface for complex

critical systems like air-traffic control. No matter what

the specific nature of a project — whether it’s a park or a

product, a book or a business — optimism is always central

to my work. It’s as important to what I do as research tools,

computer systems, or a sense of colour.

Three years ago, the Vancouver Art Gallery invited me to

produce a major exhibition on the future of design. They had

no fixed ideas as to what that might mean, except for the

scale; they wanted something that would mark a significant

commitment by their museum to the design field.

My first impulse was to say no. To discover what is happening

in design around the world and to explore its potential

across all the disciplines seemed too daunting. Besides,

I was happily working on a full slate of projects that were

already very demanding and personally rewarding.

But something was irritating me. There was something

floating around in our culture that I found deeply troubling.

It got under my skin until it became an itch I had to scratch.

There seemed to be a growing split between reality and

mood, a conflict between what is actually happening in the

world — what we are capable of, what we are committed to,

what we are achieving — and our perception of how we’re

doing. The prevailing mood feels dark, negative, harrowingly

pessimistic, and tending to the cynical. Bizarrely, this

kind of negativity has become the vogue even in creative

fields, which are traditionally committed to vision, beauty,

and pleasure, to notions of utopia — to possibility, in other

words. This is especially true in design. How, I wondered,

had the … Cont. etezal_mau_imaginefuture.pdf


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