Designing the Space Between Us


— by Dan Wallace

This morning I was inspired by design legend Bruce Mau, who sees design as a central organizing concept for humanity — design with a capital D. Mau says, “Massive change is not about the world of design; it’s about the design of the world.”

Mr. Mau pointed out that "every dog breed was designed by humans, so it is little wonder dogs are our best friends. We designed them that way!" Then Mau went on to talk about something near to his heart: work to help redesign the culture and vision of Guatemala. This project was followed by an assignment to redesign Mecca.

Mau drew me in immediately with the story of his childhood in Sudbury Ontario, growing up without books, or running water in the winter. He believes this background gave him the empathy to design for other people. From these humble beginnings Mau has gone on to collaborate with some of the foremost creative geniuses of our time, including architect Frank Gehry and philosopher Gilles Deleuze.

Mau said, “We are not designing what we look like, we are designing through what we do. We are moving from style design to design thinking, from visual form to enterprise design"

This presentation brought to mind a quote by an early modern philosopher, Henry David Thoreau: "It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."

Bruce Mau is designing the space between us, affecting the quality of the day.

Dan Wallace develops products and is a marketing & brand consultant. He is co-authoring a book, “The Physics of Brand,” to be published by HOW in 2016. This blog post was written for the 15th annual FUSE Conference in Chicago, hosted by IIR. You can follow Dan on Twitter @ideafood.

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