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Episode 43: Bruce Mau

Design For Massive Change with Bruce Mau, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Massive Change Network

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Across more than thirty years of design innovation, Bruce Mau has worked as a designer, innovator, educator, and author on a broad spectrum of projects with some of the world’s leading brands, organizations, universities, governments, entrepreneurs, renowned artists, and fellow optimists.

In this episode Mau and host David Kepron talk about the foundational years of Bruce’s childhood and a number of the principles for designing massive change in your life and work.

For press and event inquiries, contact [email protected]

Instagram Accounts

Bruce Mau – https://www.instagram.com/realbrucemau/#

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Aiyemobisi Williams – https://www.instagram.com/aiyemobisi/

Massive Change Network – https://www.instagram.com/massivechangenetwork/

LinkedIn Accounts

Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer Bruce Mau – https://www.linkedin.com/in/bruce-mau/

Co-founder, Chief Insights Officer Aiyemobisi “Bisi” Willia – https://www.linkedin.com/in/bisiwilliams/

Company Page Massive Change Network – https://www.linkedin.com/company/massive-change-network/about/

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Websites

Massive Change Network – https://www.massivechangenetwork.com

Health 2049 Podcast – https://www.health2049.com

Mailing List

https://massivechangeworkshops.us7.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=edecf2a3075fbcc167f6019ec&id=592db25fb8

About Bruce Mau

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Bruce Mau is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Massive Change Network (MCN), a global design consultancy based in the Chicago area. Across more than thirty years of design innovation, Bruce has worked as a designer, innovator, educator, and author on a broad spectrum of projects in collaboration with the world’s leading brands, organizations, universities, governments, entrepreneurs, renowned artists, and fellow optimists.

To create value and positive impact across global ecosystems and economies, Mau evolved a unique toolkit of 24 massive change design principles — MC24 — that can be applied in any field or environment at every scale. The MC24 principles underpin all Bruce’s work — from designing carpets to cities, books to new media, global brands to cultural institutions, and social movements to business transformation – and they are the subject of his book, “Mau: MC24, Bruce Mau’s 24 Principles for Designing Massive Change in Your Life and Work.

Books are central to Bruce’s purpose of achieving and inspiring understanding, clarity, and alignment around visions of a better future. He is the author of “Massive Change”; “Life Style”; and “Mau: MC24: Bruce Mau’s 24 Principles for Designing Massive Change in Your Life and Work”;– all published by Phaidon Press. Bruce’s “The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth,” a forty-three-point statement on sustaining a creative practice, has been translated into more than fifteen languages and has been shared widely on the Internet for nearly twenty-five years.

Bruce is also co-author of several books, including the landmark architecture book “S, M, L, XL” with Rem Koolhaas; “Nexus: Augmented Thinking for a Complex World – The New Convergence of Art, Technology, and Science,” with Julio Ottino, dean of Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering; “The Third Teacher” with OWP/P Architects and VS Furniture; and “Spectacle” with David Rockwell.

Bruce has collaborated with clients on the development and design of more than 200 books, including Art Gallery of Ontario, Claes Oldenburg, Douglas Gordon, Frank Gehry, Gagosian, Getty Research Institute, James Lahey, Mark Francis, and Zone Books.

In these times of complex, interrelated challenges that are unlike any we’ve faced before, Bruce believes life-centered design offers a clear path towards identifying the full context of our problems and developing innovative, sustainable, and holistic solutions.

Bruce’s work and life story are the subject of the feature-length documentary, “MAU,” scheduled for North American theatrical release in May 2022.

Show Intro

When I was a kid, my parents used to load my four brothers and I, along with our dog, into a station wagon, hook up a trailer and travel on summer vacation from Montreal to Winnipeg, effectively halfway across Canada, to visit my father’s family.

The trek would take us along the Trans Canada highway following a route around Lake Superior and passing through cites like Wawa, which had an enormous Canada goose statue, Dryden with the monumental statue of Max the Moose, and Sudbury Ontario with the Big nickel.

The big nickel. It was enormous. This thing was a towering 30 feet tall and was said to be about 64 million times the size of the nickel you’d have in your pocket.

In a time when penny candy stores were a big thing for a youngster in the late 60’s, how much that nickel could buy at Ed’s market, the candy store a walk from my parent’s house, was beyond imagination.

Sudbury was also one of the largest nickel mining areas on the planet. My memory of Sudbury at that time was that it was desolate. For miles around the nickel mines, Sudbury was gray. The landscape was just gray.

There were no trees.

There was no grass.

It was the closest thing my young mind could have imagined when thinking about what the surface of the moon would have looked like.

In those seemingly dead zones, it was stark and infertile.

In 1971 and ’72 NASA actually sent its astronauts to train there for the Apollo 16 and 17 missions, because it approximated what astronauts would encounter when they landed on the lunar surface.

While I passed through as a tourist on vacation, there was another boy who lived there in the house at the end of a street beyond which there was only 200 miles of Boreal Forest.

As an adult the boy who lived at the end of the street before the forest started would describe those years as ‘lawless’ and like walking a Vaseline greased edge on which a misplaced step would send you careening into a chasm from which you would never climb out.

Finding his way out of the Boreal Forest, it turns out, would also serve in later years as an apt metaphor for finding a way out of a childhood of adverse experiences to a career as one of the most successful designers of the last 50 years.

The house of the end of the street was not the end of the road for Bruce Mau. At a young age, he had other plans to not slip and fall into the chasm, but to find his way out of the forest. To follow a path with an entrepreneurial spirit, of exploration and discovery, continually scanning the world for opportunity.

Mau believes that “you need to be taught the entrepreneurial mindset of being lost in the forest and discovering a methodology for finding your way out. You need a compass. You need a way of actually navigating any forest not just the one in front of you.” That, he says, is a very different mindset and design is actually built to do it. That’s what designers do…”

Looking back, Mau now deeply appreciates how those decisions that he made when he was twelve set that in motion and kind of created the space for him to do what he does and to be who he is.

Despite his extraordinary success, he understands that, whatever the kind of problem and no matter how right he believes his solution is, it is it’s meaningless if he can’t inspire people to do it.

He explains that “..I have to show them what that means. I have to show them the destination and I have to take them there in their imagination. I’ve got to say, ‘look I know we’re here now but we’re going to go over there. I’m telling you over there is awesome and here’s what’s going to happen…”

I was first exposed to Bruce’s creative thinking process through his landmark architectural book “S, M, L, XL”with the world renowned architect Rem Koolhaas. SML XL is not a book you read cover to cover. It is something that you live with, explore and reference over and over again.

Bruce is a lover of books and has collaborated with clients on the development and design of more than 200 titles. He says “I consider myself a ‘biblio-naire.’ I’m not a billionaire but I am a biblio-naire.”

One of these books, that I have read cover to cover, is MC24 “Mau: MC24, Bruce Mau’s 24 Principles for Designing Massive Change in Your Life and Work.” This volume is more a manifesto or a unique toolkit of 24 massive change design principles that can be applied in any field or environment at every scale.

These 24 principles underpin all of Bruce’s work — from designing carpets to cities, books to new media, global brands to cultural institutions, and social movements to business transformation.

Today Bruce has navigated the slippery line of life a long way from his childhood years in the liminal space where the road ends and the forest begins. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Massive Change Network (MCN), a global design consultancy based in the Chicago area.

Across more than thirty years of design innovation, Bruce has worked as a designer, innovator, educator, and author on a broad spectrum of projects with some of world’s leading brands, organizations, universities, governments, entrepreneurs, renowned artists, and fellow optimists.

Bruce’s work and life story are the subject of the feature-length documentary, “MAU,” that was released to North American theatres in May 2022. It is a captivating and candid look into Bruce Mau’s life of ideas. I encourage all to see it.

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The next level experience design podcast is presented by VMSD magazine and Smartwork Media. It is hosted and executive produced by David Kepron. Our original music and audio production by Kano Sound.

Make sure to tune in for more NXTLVL “dialogues on DATA: design architecture technology and the arts” wherever you find your favorite podcasts and make sure to visit vmsd.com and look for the tab for the NXTLVL Experience Design podcast there too.

And remember you’ll always find more information with links to content that we’ve discussed, contact information to our guests and more in the show notes for each episode.

David Kepron Info

About David Kepron

David Kepron is a multifaceted creative professional with a deep curiosity to understand ‘why’, ‘what’s now’ and ‘what’s next’. He brings together his background as an architect, artist, educator, author, podcast host and builder to the making of meaningful and empathically-focused, community-centric customer connections at brand experience places around the globe.

David is a former VP – Global Design Strategies at Marriott International. While at Marriott, his focus was on the creation of compelling customer experiences within Marriott’s “Premium Distinctive” segment which included: Westin, Renaissance, Le Meridien, Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels and Gaylord hotels.

In 2020 Kepron founded NXTLVL Experience Design, a strategy and design consultancy, where he combines his multidisciplinary approach to the creation of relevant brand engagements with his passion for social and cultural anthropology, neuroscience and emerging digital technologies.

As a frequently requested international speaker at corporate events and international conferences focusing on CX, digital transformation, retail, hospitality, emerging technology, David shares his expertise on subjects ranging from consumer behaviors and trends, brain science and buying behavior, store design and visual merchandising, hotel design and strategy as well as creativity and innovation. In his talks, David shares visionary ideas on how brand strategy, brain science and emerging technologies are changing guest expectations about relationships they want to have with brands and how companies can remain relevant in a digitally enabled marketplace.

David currently brings his creativity and insight on brand experiences to an international audience as a member of VMSD magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board, as a Board Member of the Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA) and Sign Research Foundation’s (SRF) Program Committee.

He has held teaching positions at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.), the Department of Architecture & Interior Design of Drexel University in Philadelphia, the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (L.I.M.) in New York, the International Academy of Merchandising and Design in Montreal and he served as the Director of the Visual Merchandising Department at LaSalle International Fashion School (L.I.F.S.) in Singapore.

In 2014 Kepron published his first book titled: “Retail (r)Evolution: Why Creating Right-Brain Stores Will Shape the Future of Shopping in a Digitally Driven World” and he is currently working on his second book to be published soon. David also writes a popular blog called “Brain Food” which is published monthly on vmsd.com.

In September of 2020, he launched the “NXTLVL Experience Design” podcast which brings listeners dialogues about “DATA: Design, Architecture, Technology and the Arts.” His guests include thought leaders who are driven by a passion to create the ‘New Possible’ and promote new paradigms of experiences into the mainstream.

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