Bruce Mau calls on the design world to combat economic and social ills

Design visionary Bruce Mau has called upon the international design world to combat the world’s economic and social ills.

Canadian Mau, founder of the Institute Without Boundaries, issued the call to arms at last week’s Design Indaba conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

Mau says, ‘Crisis is a terrible thing to waste. The new design is not only visual. The new design is forever.’

Mau adds that he is considering ‘the possibility of a sustainable America’. He has been invited by the Mayor of Denver to stage a biennial in the city from 2010, which will pick up on Massive Change – an international project looking at the ‘new capacity, power and promise of design’ which was set up by the IWB in 2003.

Developing sustainable communities was a common Indaba theme. New York designer Stephen Burks of Readymade Projects ran a workshop to show the waste generated by 1500 plastic bags.

He is looking to reuse the bags to create footballs for children in the South African townships in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup.

Burks is a consultant to non-profit organisation Aid to Artisans and works with local makers in South Africa and Peru. He is now working in Senegal.

‘I want to make things more connected to people,’ Burks says of his work, which includes furniture, products, interiors and packaging. ‘It is such a pluralist time. Everyone is getting out there and doing it.’

Ed Barber and Jay Osgerby, who also spoke at the conference, referred to the woven furniture they created in 2001, working with basket weavers from the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Frank Tjepkema, of Amsterdam-based design group Tjep, showed concepts for a sustainable city farm incorporating a restaurant and an abattoir, providing fresh food and recycling waste. Royal College of Art graduate Revital Cohen, meanwhile, is using biotechnology. One idea is to rear animals to match the blood type of kidney patients to provide living dialysis.

Design Indaba is an annual conference and expo of local designs, organised by Interactive Africa.

Bruce Mau
• After studying at the Ontario College of Art, Mau worked briefly for Pentagram in the UK in the 1980s

• He is the creative director of Bruce Mau Design and founder of the Institute Without Boundaries

• He has been named inaugural artistic director of the Denver Biennial of the Americas

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  • James Freeman-Gray November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I wonder, Bruce, if you’ve ever heard of Ken Garland? First Things First? No?
    Designers have been trying to improve the worth, value and (buzzword of the moment) sustanability of their trade for quite some time.
    Sadly, the World isn’t quite ready to let go of it’s consumer shackles just yet.

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