Designer Bruce Mau on the suburbs, the mall and the automobile

Bruce Mau at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art in 2006. Photo: AP/M. Spencer Green

For designer and author Bruce Mau, environmentalists will never win hearts and minds as long as they frame the issue of sustainable living negatively. Rather than talking about cost and sacrifice, he believes the emphasis should be placed on investment and opportunity. Mau aims to reshape culture and create better, greener experiences through design.

Guest host Jeanne Park sat down with Mau at the Louise Blouin Creative Leadership Summit in New York City to talk about his love of the suburbs, the beauty of cup holders and the challenge of rebranding climate change.

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Comments

  • Zachschwanbeck

    Completely disagree with his idea that the suburbs are a-OK, and can just be designed into having culture. The fact is, if you live in a suburb, unless you work within your suburb, you are still wasting a HUGE amount of energy just commuting every day. Even if they happened to have a rail link to your workplace, it’s still a use of energy that could be used somewhere else. The only way to use energy wisely is to live in dense cities. Sorry, but it’s just the math. However I do like his attention to the lousy design of public transit. So many ways to make it better. Peopledefinitely already have it in their heads that it has to be an unpleasant experience. How about wi-fi, outlet, cupholders, and TVs? How about figuring out some way to avoid the whole door slamming on you to make sure you miss your train thing? That part I think is good stuff.

  • guest

    Which is why they interviewed Bruce Mau and not Zach Schwanbeck. Bruce actually presents solutions that fit people’s current life and culture.

  • Zachschwanbeck

    If we don’t dramatically change the way we live, the world is screwed. I’m sorry but those are the facts, I didn’t make them up. If people aren’t willing to do that, fine, but they have to understand the choice they’re making. Putting some green dressing on our current wasteful society isn’t going to make a difference.

  • http://nikkisylianteng.com Nicole Sylianteng

    I don’t think he understood what you meant by Greenwashing.Other than that, what he said about public transit was interesting and true. As a point of reference, take the buses that have free wifi.

  • Chris Harries

    Who can argue about being as positive as can be, but there’s a very fine line between being positive and, well, lying. Of course people don’t want to hear bad news, but dressing up bad news with positive spin is like a doctor telling a seriously ill patient that he/she is fine and needn’t worry. The patient then goes home and doesn’t feel the need to change his / her eating or drinking habits.

    The art of bringing about change is to tell the truth. As it really is. And in the case of planet Earth the truth is really shocking. To avoid the denial or disillusionment trap the truth needs to be immediately coupled with education about the pathway to recovery and this can contain many positive messages about how enjoyable and healthy we can all be if we work towards a recovery.

  • Chris Harries

    Who can argue about being as positive as can be, but there’s a very fine line between being positive and, well, lying. Of course people don’t want to hear bad news, but dressing up bad news with positive spin is like a doctor telling a seriously ill patient that he/she is fine and needn’t worry. The patient then goes home and doesn’t feel the need to change his / her eating or drinking habits.

    The art of bringing about change is to tell the truth. As it really is. And in the case of planet Earth the truth is really shocking. To avoid the denial or disillusionment trap the truth needs to be immediately coupled with education about the pathway to recovery and this can contain many positive messages about how enjoyable and healthy we can all be if we work towards a recovery.

  • http://ergovillage.com William Lawson

    Mr. Mau’s love of the suburbs may soon be tested by the same reality he applies to the lunacy of building a glass-walled bus shelter in Toronto. Setting ‘niceties’ aside (like staying comfortably warm or cool), how does he propose to feed the ‘burbs (much less the cities) through the use of imaginative, yet culturally ‘marketable’ (green) design? So easy to hop ‘n skip upon the surface when thinking about change…until you consider the unseen Elephant in the suburban/urban mindset; i.e., production and distribution of food.

    Ahhh…no problem, we’ll just put a sexy new skin on trucks and tractors. Maybe run them with batteries? So easy to ignore the most important ‘fuel’ of all…that which keeps the body running. Try replacing what’s in your fridge with ‘pretty’ ideas. Or would that be a little like trading food for thought?