Bruce Mau Bruce Mau: Life Style

ISBN 13: 9780714838274

Bruce Mau: Life Style

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9780714838274: Bruce Mau: Life Style
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Since founding his Toronto-based studio in 1985, Bruce Mau has become one of the world's most sought-after designers, collaborating with leading architects, artists and cultural institutions in North America and Europe. This book documents his creative process and studio practice. A collection of essays, observations and personal anecdotes interspersed with project documentation, it manifests Mau's world view and his belief that form and content are inseparable.

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Review:

Each day, the average Western citizen sees, assimilates, and recognizes 16,000 logos. Chances are that Bruce Mau has been involved in the creation, evolution, and/or devolution of many of them. But calling Bruce Mau a graphic designer would be akin to calling Mae West a playwright--technically correct, but oh-so-limiting.

This mammoth catalogue raisonné of Mau's graphic work (which only Phaidon Press has the resources, and the patience, to produce) is the much-anticipated follow-up to the 1995 sensation S, M, L, XL that Mau coauthored with renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Nearly as big, but much more colorful, Life Style offers a compendium of thoughts on the conflicts and conundrums that so perplex concerned aesthetes in Western civilization, including suburban sprawl, ecological threats, the implications of identity creation, and the role of the graphic arts in architecture and design.

Trying to pin down this huge undertaking to only a few highlights would be a disservice to a man who counts such luminaries as Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, John Cage, Michael Snow, Meg Stuart, and Chris Marker as friends and colleagues. The center section alone, which recounts and reprints the celebrated spreads from his publishing venture Zone Books, would be worth the price: "The times were extraordinary--the middle 1980s, the height of American yuppie culture gorging itself on wealth. The Macintosh computer had only just been introduced and was making itself felt in the world of typography by virtue of its capacity to distort fonts. It would eventually transform the field of design, disseminating expertise and clustering capacities vertically. Faxes and FedEx were making possible a new level of international collaboration that would soon put a Toronto designer at the center of a transatlantic project. That project was Zone."

The collaboration at Zone Books enabled some of the most provocative book projects ever seen, and they are reproduced faithfully in Life Style (although one might need a magnifying glass to get the most out of them). Zone was the first and most satisfying of Mau's team projects, and the pleasure of its success is apparent in the book. But readers will find much more of interest documented here, including his revolutionary stint at I.D. Magazine; his brilliant realization of a book version of the underground, classic sci-fi thriller "La Jetée"; and his ideas for information interchange at several major architectural projects, including right here in Seattle, working with his friend Koolhaas in building the controversial new Seattle Public Library.

All things considered, this major book will leave some readers furious at Bruce Mau's audacity and others aghast at his cross-disciplinary influences. I doubt that there's anyone working in design today who has had quite his impact. This book is a beautifully realized celebration of that impact, and very much worth the wait.

By the way, Phaidon has produced this book with eight different and gorgeous fabric covers. Yours might differ from our rather inadequate representation on the site. As with S, M, L, XL, I predict that some day all of them will be (ahem) "coollectors'" items. --Charles Decker

About the Author:

Bruce Mau is the President and Creative Director of Bruce Mau Design. He has been a visiting scholar at institutions worldwide, including The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, Rice University in Houston, the University of Toronto's School of Architecture, and California Institute of the Arts, where he was an artist-in-residence. He has lectured widely throughout North America and in Berlin and Zurich, and in 1998 won the Chrysler Award for Design Innovation.

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