Bruce Mau is a Canadian designer. He started as a graphic designer but later focused on architecture, art, museums, film, eco-environmental design, and conceptual philosophy.
From 1985-2010, Mau was the creative director of Bruce Mau Design (BMD), and in 2003, he founded the Institute Without Boundaries in collaboration with the School of Design at George Brown College, Toronto. In 2010 Mau went on to co-found The Massive Change Network in Chicago with Bisi Williams.
In 2015, Freeman, a global provider of brand experiences, appointed him Chief Design Officer. Mau works with Freeman to drive innovation in the events industry.
Life and career
Mau was born in Sudbury, Ontario. He studied at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, but left prior to graduation in order to join the Fifty Fingers design group in 1980. He stayed there for two years, before crossing the ocean for a brief sojourn at Pentagram in the UK. Returning to Toronto a year later, he became part of the founding triumvirate of Public Good Design and Communications. Soon after, the opportunity to design Zone 1/2 presented itself and he left to establish his own studio, Bruce Mau Design. Zone 1/2: The Contemporary City, a complex compendium of critical thinking about urbanism from philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze and Paul Virilio, architects Rem Koolhaas and Christopher Alexander remains one of his most notable works. The firm has produced work for the Andy Warhol Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Gagosian Gallery. Mau remained the design director of Zone Books until 2004, to which he has added duties as co-editor of Swerve Editions, a Zone imprint. From 1991 to 1993, he also served as creative director of I.D. magazine.
From 1996 to 1999, he was the associate cullinan professor at Rice University School of Architecture in Houston. He has also been a thesis advisor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design; artist in residence at California Institute of the Arts; and a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. He has lectured widely across North America and Europe, and currently serves on the International Advisory Committee of the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio.
In addition, Mau is an honorary fellow of the Ontario College of Art & Design and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He was awarded the Chrysler Award for Design Innovation in 1998, and the Toronto Arts Award for Architecture and Design in 1999. In 2001 he received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.
In 1998, Mau produced a 43-point program called an Incomplete Manifesto for Growth that attempts to help designers and creative folks think about their design process. The manifesto has been widely circulated on the web since then.
In 2006, he participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions.
Mau is married to Aiyemobisi “Bisi” Williams (1966) and they have three daughters named Osunkemi, Omalola, and Adeshola (named in honor of Bisi Williams’s Nigerian heritage).
As of 2007, Mau was in residence at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in the Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Design Objects Department.
In 2010 Bruce Mau and Bisi Williams founded the Massive Change Network.
In the 2010s, Bruce Mau Design was involved in the redevelopment and redesign of Ontario's ONroute service centres.
As of November 19, 2015, Bruce Mau is the Chief Design Officer for Freeman, a brand experience company and service contractor.
At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Mau exhibited his designs for books, graphics, and social projects. He received the Museum's Design Excellence Award in 2015. Mau received the Cooper Hewitt 2016, National Design Award for Design Mind, for his impact on design theory, design practice and/or public awareness.