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Massive Change: A Manifesto for the Future of Global Design: A Manifesto for the Future Global Design Culture Hardcover – 21 Oct 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; Bruce Mau with Jennifer Leonard and the Institu... edition (21 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714844012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714844015
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 3.2 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 293,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'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)

About the Author

Bruce Mau is the President and Creative Director of Bruce Mau Design, which has gained international recognition for innovative multidisciplinary work. He is the author of Life Style, published by Phaidon, and designed and conceived the award-winning book S,M,L,XL with Rem Koolhaas. The Institute Without Boundaries is a postgraduate, research-orientated design programme headquartered at Bruce Mau Design.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cebeautifulca on 26 Aug 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book, while somewhat provocative, is not up-to the high standards expected of Bruce Mau. It's not a bad book, and it's not uninformative, but it is disappointing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Have a try. It's a designerly way of looking at the world and of addressing its dysfunctions.
It focuses on empathy and prototyping.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bhav on 21 Feb 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An insightful book which is easy to read. Great photographic illustrations are interspersed with inspiring essays provided by some of the key members of the Institute Without Boundaries. In 2011, the ideas of this book are just as relevant as ever. The hard back and page content was worth the relatively low price.

Eagerly looking forward to a future edition!
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ana Paula Costa Simões on 16 May 2011
Format: Hardcover
The book was in perfect conditions. I bought it on the used section but still, it was like new.
I received it in 3 weeks, which was perfectly normal.

I have nothing else to say other than I bought a brand new book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Ubiquity and banality... 1 Mar 2005
By Saul Boulschett - Published on Amazon.com
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. And a couple of architects who seem sincere and all, but could have been left out.

The people interviewed here, for the most part, have the means and ideas to bring about REAL consequential changes on a global scale: people who don't call themselves designers but whose works are crucial in shaping the world to come for the better. And as the interviewees use the word, 'better' means 'better for EVERYONE' on this planet. And that means seeing Design as 'creatively, compassionately applied-intelligence' to the real problems faced by billions of people who do not live in the well-plugged cities of the world, and do not share even a fraction of what most of us take for granted. Electricity and potable water, for example. We're not talking about a "better" office cubicle or a "better" sofa, cappucino maker, shoes, etc -- important though they are. The book merely asks that we get a perspective on things.

In keeping with the TIME mag format, the book functions as an ad for the people (and their org) who are featured here -- which is fine, since ignoramuses like me can get an overview of who's doing what. But it also a manifesto calling for a bigger idea of 'design': Design as the art of domesticating the full potential of technology to situate ourselves back into the law of ecology by by creative cosmopolitanism and ethical pragmatism in our stewardship of the world.

If, like me, you agree with Hal Foster's diatribe in his 'Design and Crime' (where he basically accuses the design industry of being complicitly evil for serving a self-serving structure of inequity), then I think this book offers a hopeful view of Design as something REALLY consequential -- as opposed to that arrogated by the frivolous, exclusionary, image-driven, self-important nincumpoops that comprise the field of "high design" today.

Highly recommended for 2 kinds of people:
One, colonocephalic people who cannot see other people -- only what they have on; and think nothing of killing to have a 'nice pair/set of whatever.'
Two, all cool people who dream of a cool world for all.
53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Missed opportunity 25 Oct 2005
By Philippe Vandenbroeck - Published on Amazon.com
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". The material is conventionally organised in sections that review the state of the art in urban planning, transportation, energy, information, material sciences, military technologies, biotech etc. Only two chapters discuss governance issues ("market economies" and "wealth and politics"). The relatively meager substance comes from short interviews with a series of "experts" in the disciplines surveyed. The selection is very US-centric and contains quite a few usual suspects (Dean Kamen, Stewart Brand, Lawrence Lessig, Jaime Lerner, Hazel Henderson etc).

By now we are also well acquainted with Mau's cinematic and fractured style in book design. "Massive Change" doesn't break any new ground compared to previous volumes (not only Life Style but also S,M,L,XL (with Rem Koolhaas) and the Zone series of books). What was once truly refreshing is becoming stale. By the way, the short interviews are printed on glaringly yellow pages, which I find positively ugly.

All of this is disappointing. I can think of two explanations for the intellectual and stylistic flaccidity exhibited in this volume. First, we are missing the incisiveness and depth that Mau's sparring partner Sanford Kwinter brought to "Life Style" (In my opinion, Kwinter's three-page lead essay was worth the price of that book). I am not sure what happened between Mau and Kwinter, but the latter is almost completely absent from this volume.

Then, although this is not be obvious at first sight, "Massive Change" is not really a Mau book. In fact, it has been largely put together by Jennifer Leonard, one of the students from the inaugural year of the Institute without Boundaries (a newly established postgraduate education programme whereby students spend a full year in the Mau studio). So, although Mau's name figures prominently on the cover, inside we learn that the Institute led the research, development, design and production of Massive Change.

I can't recommend this volume. "Massive Change" is a missed opportunity.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
For every dreamer.... 23 Feb 2006
By al - Published on Amazon.com
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.
Inspirational and instructive 18 Oct 2013
By Nell Merlino, Pres.,Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Massive Change quickly shows you all the different ways people are solving some of the world's most difficult problems. Bruce clearly communicates that we can design our way to a better world.
Loved it so much that I gave it to my ... 15 Aug 2014
By Bella G. - Published on Amazon.com
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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