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March 05, 2007 || 9:25 am
Chicago, Bruce Mau, David Adjaye

[I posted this over at DN but thought it might be interesting to some people over here, too...]

I've been listening to the podcast of Bruce Mau talking to David Adjaye as part of Artangel's talks series around Longplayer. An interesting bit was about Chicago and Mayor Daley's fantastically interesting initiatives. Apparently Daley takes an artist to meetings with him where he has to make big decisions because "artists see things differently and see things that I don't." He's also insisting that from next year, all new buildings in the city have to be LEED (American equivalent of BREEAM) certified.

It has to be said that most of the talking is done by Mau, which pretty much figures, as Adjaye is a very good designer but doesn't have many verbally expressed opinions. I've met Mau (he even offered me a job although I didn't end up taking it) and one thing he is good at is talking. He is an excellent designer-thinker of, in a sense, the first generation of "designer" being a much broader term, and retains much more clear-sightedness than much of the design-based thinking that has come after him. He immediately picked up on the fact that the Idea Stores don't have bookshops: why? He isn't quite as blunt to Adjaye, but it is rather ridiculous. You could use the Idea Store computers to order online from Amazon but can't pick up a book or a magazine right there.

This isn't something that Adjaye had any potential to influence through the way that he interprets his position as a designer - he concentrates on physical typology and image. But Mau immediately leaps in on issues like that and puts them centre stage as part of what he sees as doing his job. Mau also says that he finds the idea of an 'architect' ridiculous. He calls design "an entrepreneurial model for thinking", when talking about the projects he does that aren't about objects, and cautions "if you are going to do that kind of work, your methodology has to be more robust than less". This is where a lot of the second-generation "broad designers" fall down, to me. Their methodologies become fantastically complex, which to me is the opposite of robustness. You can understand how Mau works in a sentence or two, but it is tested to a degree where it doesn't fall down.

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