Neocon Interview: Bruce Mau
Edited by Karen D. Singh and Sheila Kim-Jamet -- Interior Design, 8/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Canadian graphic designer Bruce Mau is perhaps best known for collaborating on Rem Koolhaas's S,M,L,XL, a 1997 book that illuminates the condition of urban architecture today. Then, in 2004, Mau published his own title, Massive Change: A Manifesto for the Future of Global Design. This illustrated primer, coauthored by Jennifer Leonard and the Institute Without Boundaries, examines technologies and events affecting the human race worldwide.
In addition, Mau's no stranger to the contract market. Not only did he create Maharam's Meganano line of smart green panel fabrics featuring dot and grid motifs, but he has also been involved in the repositioning and re-branding of Knoll. This year, he teamed up with Shaw Contract to introduce L7, a collection of two broadloom and four modular carpets in deep, rich colors. Mau talked with us about that collaboration as well as his thoughts on design in general.
What sparked the project with Shaw?
As a company that implements cradle-to-cradle manufacturing and recycling, Shaw was featured in "Massive Change: The Future of Global Design," a touring exhibit that accompanied my book. It was through this relationship that Shaw came to our studio to develop the line.
Exactly how did you conceive the collection?
The challenge we saw in the existing market was how to overcome the limited range of colors available in contract carpet. We came up with a way of producing and packaging the L7 line in order to expand and enrich this impoverished palette. We chose to explore the square, or pixel, as the basic unit of color, and this became the foundation for the pattern approach. By using the concept of pixelation, we were able to combine multiple colors and textures within one range.
What are your favorite colors to work with?
I'm like Andy Warhol. I think every color is beautiful.
Is there a particular product or object you hope to design someday?
If someone needs it, I want to design it. I'm always making lists of things I want to do. There are too many to print.
What is good design?
That's more complex than it's ever been. It's no longer simply about the object. Instead, it includes all the upstream input of matter, energy, and intelligence, the form of the object itself, and the consideration for its ultimate demise into matter and energy.
Where do your ideas come from?
From listening to the problem. If you pay attention to what the actual needs are, they're usually more exotic than anything you could dream up.