Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2005-03-11

Bruce Mau and Design as Social Change

There's an interesting article on Bruce Mau's exhibit, Massive Change in this week's Now... The article is more of a criticism of Mau and his use of social commentary to promote his brand.

This got me thinking about all of the discussions we have as marketers about the philosophical layers of business and advertising in society. Are we attempting to manufacture meaning to promote our own profession or brand? It seems what Mau is doing is exposing design as a tool of social change while promoting his own design firm.

This argument goes to the root of what emotion or spirit can be assigned to a task used to make money. This is the root of marketing criticism to date, and why ethics are constantly being deliberated in the "selling arena."

I have to ask, is what Mau's doing so wrong? He is contributing to an important conversation - should he not be making money through this conversation?

I do agree with the author that Mau has evangelically held design in a grandiose light. It is just a tool after all. The people who orchestrate and invent and participate are the key to real change and successful conclusions.

So why are we so desperate to assign spiritual meaning to what we do?

'Meaning' in society was never so argued as it is argued today. The fact is, meaning used to be assigned for us by rigid religious and class structures. [see Malaise of Modernity ] Now we are faced with recreating meaning - largely through product.

Marketers are the new evangelists. For Mau, meaning of religious proportion rests in design.

If meaning is up for grabs - who decides what the benchmark is?
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