MASSIVE CHANGE: The Future of Global Design

Bruce Mau, Author, Without Boundaries Institute, Author, Jennifer Leonard, Author . Phaidon $29.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7148-4401-5

Utopianism is not dead; it has migrated from politics to materialism. This book, says Canadian industrial designer Mau (who founded Toronto City College's Institute Without Borders), is "not about the world of design; it's about the design of the world." In a form that is part Apple ad, part Powerpoint presentation and part architectural pastiche à la Rem Koolhaus, Mau's volume brings together designs and theories (mostly Western) and photographers (global) that "tap into global commons," "distribute capacity" and "embrace paradox": superstrong fibers modeled on gecko hairs; "sustainable business" that embraces corporate accountability; the "redesigning" of Third World property law; genetic engineering, macro- and microimaging technologies; virtual reality technology that allows collaboration over large distances; a "cyberneticized" military that paradoxically has more nonviolent options. All of these ideas (some of which are now reality) are here in words and pictures, often further explained through q&a's with leading researchers. The result reads, intentionally, like a friendly corporate prospectus or catalogue, except that the "product" on offer is a radically hopeful vision of the future. With 250 color and 50 b&w photos in a fractally chaotic layout, and a text that speaks in affirmative sound bites, this book offers a vision of the world in a package designed to get readers excited about stoves that burn peanut shells, superlight gels that can protect flowers from flame, and plants and microbes that turn open sewers into water supplies. It succeeds beautifully. (Dec.)