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Massive Change Hardcover – October 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Utopianism is not dead; it has migrated from politics to materialism. This book, says Canadian industrial designer Mau (who founded Toronto City College's Institute Without Borders), is "not about the world of design; it's about the design of the world." In a form that is part Apple ad, part Powerpoint presentation and part architectural pastiche à la Rem Koolhaus, Mau's volume brings together designs and theories (mostly Western) and photographers (global) that "tap into global commons," "distribute capacity" and "embrace paradox": superstrong fibers modeled on gecko hairs; "sustainable business" that embraces corporate accountability; the "redesigning" of Third World property law; genetic engineering, macro- and microimaging technologies; virtual reality technology that allows collaboration over large distances; a "cyberneticized" military that paradoxically has more nonviolent options. All of these ideas (some of which are now reality) are here in words and pictures, often further explained through q&a's with leading researchers. The result reads, intentionally, like a friendly corporate prospectus or catalogue, except that the "product" on offer is a radically hopeful vision of the future. With 250 color and 50 b&w photos in a fractally chaotic layout, and a text that speaks in affirmative sound bites, this book offers a vision of the world in a package designed to get readers excited about stoves that burn peanut shells, superlight gels that can protect flowers from flame, and plants and microbes that turn open sewers into water supplies. It succeeds beautifully.
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Review

'Nothing less than a design for life.' (Art Review) 'MassiveChange is about everything and everybody ... intelligent, visually provocative ... not just a modern guide to technologies, but also a discussion of how they affect our planet.' (Building Engineer) 'The most unusual design book of the year ... This is in-depth thinking.' (Financial Times) 'With impeccable artistic contributions ... and informed articles, Massive Change muses on the trends that will shape this century.' (Wallpaper*) 'A well-argued, well-illustrated and indeed inspiring book that breaks from the usual mould.' (FX) "Sings like an ode to sustainable development.' (Dazed & Confused) 'GLOBAL WAKE-UP CALL In a back cover tag-line that wouldn't seem out of place on a movie poster, it boldly states that 'Massive Change is not about the world of design; it's about the design of the world.' Amazingly, it manages to live up to his assertion. ... Yes, it's idealistic, but you'll be so engrossed in the texts, images and sheer self-belief that you'll forgive it. ... Enormous in its scope, Massive Change is a wake-up call to everyone concerned with the 'sustainability' of the human race on earth. And its' only 20 quid. Incredible!' ( Architectural Review) ' With 250 color and 50 B&W photos in a fractally chaotic layout, and a text that speaks in affirmative sound bites, this book offers a vision of the world in a package designed to get readers excited about stoves that burn peanut shells, superlight gels that can protect flowers from flame, and plants and microbes that turn open sewers into water supplies. It succeeds beautifully.' (Publishers Weekly) 'Bruce Mau is as close as you'll get to a design-world hero.' (Surface)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714844012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714844015
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Saul Boulschett on March 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
is the ultimate aim of design, according to Bruce Mau. And I agree with him. He cites as examples of design that have attained "design nirvana": ordinary objects and machines -- airplanes, power grids, drugs -- that anonymously allow the modern world to function as one without any of us taking notice of their vital functions...until they fail.

In a time when staying optimistic about the world requires (for me) more calories than a workout on the stairmaster, I need all the GOOD NEWS I can get, this book has nothing but. True, the book does have that certain hoaky 'TIME's 30 New Leaders of the New Millenium'-style of presentation: 2 page interviews that cannot really go into any depth about anything; and great ideas that may never see the light of day for reasons beyond anyone's control. But let's let that slide: some of the ideas are already in place. Besides, even a misanthrope like me has to take a break and hope every now and then...

Mau (and his team of researchers) addresses here the bigger issue in design: they call it the "design of the world." That is, as opposed to the narrow "world of design" that is so often mired in pathological (head up the colon) narcissism in its inane, frivolous pursuit / fetishism of singular objects.
Thus, in keeping with their objective of presenting a wider perspective, Mau and his team wisely steered clear of all "celebrity designers" -- who are...what, for the most part, essentially nothing more than fussy, uptight, tempermental servant-toadies whose function is to glamorize the imperialism of capitalism, are they not?

Instead, they went talking to scientists, science writers, engineers, an economist(Hernando de Soto), a law professor, engineers, et al.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Philippe Vandenbroeck VINE VOICE on October 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Bruce Mau's previous book - "Life Style" - was a pivotal publication that had something very fundamental to say about the practice of design. The argument woven into this survey of Bruce Mau Design's portfolio derived its edginess from an underlying, existential dilemma. On the one hand, Mau wanted to do justice to design's capacity to give "style" to sprawling, viral "life" (originally a very Nietzschean concept, later taken up and politicised by Foucault and Deleuze). On the other hand, there was the fear for the domestication of his practice to the status of banal, lifeless purveyor of images and artefacts - global capitalism's lingua franca. This tension between subversion and acquiescence turned "Life Style" into a poignant testimony.

Massive Change is, I am sorry to say, a much less compelling read. It takes its cue from Life Style's key idea - design is able to reformat the very principle of life - but dispels the darker, problematic side of the equation. Indeed, although Mau would like us to believe otherwise, the book's perspective is squarely utopian. In adopting as its motto theme "Now that we can do anything, what will we do?", it echoes the pragmatist voluntarism of the peer-to-peer movement. But the dissonances - P2P's paradoxical (symbiotic/parasitic) relationship with capitalism - have been filtered from the echo. What remains is the suave message that technological progress - shaped and harnessed by design - will be able to solve all our problems if we only want it to.

So, although Massive Change promises to bring us a "wildly unexpected view of the future", it really doesn't reach beyond the intellectual horizon of, say, a special issue of Scientific American on "Key Technologies for the 21st Century".
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By al on February 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Bruce Mau is more than a designer. He is a futurist who has swapped fatalism for idealism. His vision of the future is based on facts, but you feel his undertone of optimisim. Massive Change is an utterly interesting read from cover to cover. The structure of the book and the writing style makes it a great resource of information. Massive Change is a necessity for the bookshelf of every intellect and every dreamer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By lorraine doo on May 15, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bruce Mau and Warren Berger (Glimmer, Ask Beautiful Questions) have been inspiring me to new levels for the past year. the simple things are making the biggest changes. everyone should read this book - not because they have to read for some kind of assignment,, but because the MUST read it - for the assignment of their lives.... for great wisdom and awe into what we are capable of!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved it so much that I gave it to my boss. This triggered a book club to start at work - office happy hour!
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