Bruce Mau

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Bruce Mau
Born (1959-10-25) October 25, 1959 (age 64)
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Known forMassive Change Network
Bruce Mau Design
Massive Change
Institute Without Boundaries
Freeman Company
Notable workThe Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
The Nexus
Massive Change
Life Style
Seattle Public Library
Zone Books
PartnerAiyemobisi “Bisi” Williams
AwardsAIGA Gold Medal (2007)
Global Creative Leadership Award (2009)
Cooper Hewitt National Design Award (2016)

Bruce Mau RCA (born October 25, 1959) is a Canadian designer and educator. He began his career a graphic designer and has since applied his design methodology to architecture, art, museums, film, eco-environmental design, education, and conceptual philosophy.[1][2] Mau is the chief executive officer of Massive Change Network, a Chicago-based design consultancy he co-founded with his wife, Bisi Williams.[2] In 2015, he became the Chief Design Officer at Freeman, a global provider of brand experiences.[3][4] Mau is also a professor and has taught at multiple institutions in the United States and Canada.[5][6]

From 1985 to 2010, Mau was the creative director of Bruce Mau Design (BMD). In 2003, while still at BMD, he founded the Institute Without Boundaries in collaboration with the School of Design at George Brown College, Toronto.[7] In 2010, Mau left the company and went on to co-found Massive Change Network in Chicago with his wife, Bisi Williams.[8][9] Mau founded Bruce Mau Studio in 2020.[10]

Early life and education[edit]

Mau was born in Pembroke, Ontario, on 25 October 1959 and spent his early years in Sudbury, Ontario.[11] He attended Sudbury Secondary School. Mau chose to study art at the advice of the high school art teacher, Jack Smith, who mentored him in his early studies.[12][13] He then studied at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, and he studied advertising under Terry Isles.[11] However, before graduation, he left the school to join the Fifty Fingers design group in 1980.[11]


Mau stayed at Fifty Fingers 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.[14] 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.[citation needed]

He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and served on the Herman Miller Design Council[15] from 2008 to 2012.

He has lectured widely across North America and Europe. He served on the International Advisory Committee of the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio.[citation needed]

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.[16]

In 2006, he participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions.

In 2010 Bruce Mau and Bisi Williams founded the Massive Change Network.[17][18]

In the 2010s, Bruce Mau Design was involved in the redevelopment and redesign of Ontario's ONroute service centres.[19]

As of November 19, 2015, Bruce Mau is the Chief Design Officer for Freeman, a brand experience company and service contractor.[20]

In September 2022, Bruce Mau and Bisi Williams undertook a collaboration with the University of New South Wales through the Massive Change Network (MCN). This was called 'Massive Action Sydney' and saw staff and students from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture (ADA) form five 'Renaissance Teams' to collaborate on ways to create Massive Action across some of the most perplexing and wicked challenges of our time. The project and its outcomes are ongoing. [21]


He was awarded the Chrysler Award for Design Innovation in 1998, and the Toronto Arts Award for Architecture and Design in 1999. He is a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council, since 2006.[22] Mau was awarded the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Medal in 2007.[11] In 2007, Mau was in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in the Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Design Objects department.[citation needed]

He received the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Collab Design Excellence Award in 2015, in conjunction with an exhibition of his designs.[23] Mau received the Cooper Hewitt 2016, National Design Award for Design Mind, for his impact on design theory, design practice and/or public awareness.[24][25]

Honorary degrees[edit]

Mau has received many honorary degrees including honorary doctorates from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2001, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 2006[26] and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2014.[27] Other honorary degree include an honorary fellow of the Ontario College of Art & Design[28] In 2007, Laurentian University awarded him an honorary degree[12] and the Columbia College Chicago awarded an honorary degree in 2011.[29]


From 1996 to 1999, Mau was the Associate Cullinan Professor at Rice University's School of Architecture in Houston, Texas.[30] He has also been a thesis advisor at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design.[30] He was a William and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SIAC) in 2007–2008.[30]


Since 2009, Mau has served as a Distinguished Fellow of the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University.[30] He served as an artist-in-residence at California Institute of the Arts and as a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Mau is married to Aiyemobisi "Bisi" Williams and they have three daughters named Osunkemi, Omalola, and Adeshola (named in honor of Bisi Williams's Nigerian heritage).[1]

Graphic design[edit]

  • S,M,L,XL with Rem Koolhaas (1995) ISBN 0-7148-3827-6
  • Life Style (2000) ISBN 1-885254-01-6
  • Massive Change (2004) ISBN 0-7148-4401-2
  • Eye, No. 15, Vol. 4, Winter 1994. [1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Froelke Coburn, Marcia (July 6, 2010). "Bruce Mau: From Innovative Graphic Designer to World-Class Conceptualist". Chicago Magazine. Chicago Tribune Media Group. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  3. ^ Palmer, Barbara (20 January 2016). "Design Thinking on Exhibit". PCMA Convene. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  4. ^ Oates, Greg (8 June 2016). "CMOs Are Investing More in Live Events to Engage Distracted Audiences". Skift. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Campus Directory". Pratt Institute. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  6. ^ "Bruce Mau: DESIGN INNOVATION - Segal Design Institute, Northwestern University". Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  7. ^ Jermyn, Diane (15 April 2010). "Bruce Mau uses design to create positive change". The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail Inc. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  8. ^ Robinson, Joe (26 April 2011). "Innovation Gurus: Bruce Mau and John Kao". Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur Media. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  9. ^ Sisson, Patrick (22 April 2015). "Bruce Mau leads design brainstorm by encouraging leaps in thought". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Timeline". Bruce Mau Studio. Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  11. ^ a b c d "Bruce Mau". AIGA. Archived from the original on 2018-07-10. Retrieved 2018-07-09. Born 1959, Sudbury, Ontario
  12. ^ a b "Mau Made" (PDF). Laurentian Magazine. Laurentian University. Summer 2007. pp. 2, 14. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  13. ^ "Visionary surprisingly down to earth". 20 March 2006. Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  14. ^ Fast Company "Design Principal | Fast Company". Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  15. ^ Ryan, Zoë; Freeman Rathbone, Kathryn (2011-03-07). "Massive Change for Bruce Mau". Design Bureau. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  16. ^ Incomplete Manifesto for growth
  17. ^ "Massive Change Network". Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  18. ^ "Bruce Mau Exhibited and Honored By Philadelphia Museum of Art". Graphic Design USA. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  19. ^ "ONroute in Ontario". Toronto Sun, January 31, 2012.
  20. ^ "Freeman Brings Design Thinking to the Forefront of the Events Industry « Freeman". Archived from the original on 2015-12-23. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  21. ^ "Massive Action Sydney | Arts, Design & Architecture - UNSW Sydney".
  22. ^ "2006 Design Futures Council Senior Fellows - DesignIntelligence". DesignIntelligence. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  23. ^ "Designing the Future with Bruce Mau". University of Pennsylvania. University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  24. ^ "Freeman's Chief Design Officer Bruce Mau Recognized with Cooper Hewitt 2016 National Design Award: Design Mind". News Channel 10. Frankly Media and Raycom Media. Archived from the original on 2016-05-30. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  25. ^ Lasky, Julie (2016-05-05). "National Design Awards Announced". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  26. ^ "14 SAIC Community Figures Featured in Newcity's Annual Design 50 Issue". School of the Art Institute of Chicago. March 27, 2015. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  27. ^ "Honorary Guests at Commencement". RISD XYZ Spring/Summer 2014. Rhode Island School of Design. p. 48. Retrieved 2018-07-09 – via Issu.
  28. ^ "honorary doctorate". OCAD UNIVERSITY. May 22, 2018. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  29. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients - College Archives". Columbia College Chicago. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  30. ^ a b c d e "Bruce Mau: DESIGN INNOVATION". Segal Design Institute, Northwestern University. Retrieved 2018-07-09.

External links[edit]