Life Style

Front Cover
Phaidon Press, Jan 11, 2000 - Design - 626 pages
2 Reviews
Each day, the average Western citizen sees, assimilates, and recognizes16,000 logos. Chances are that Bruce Mau has been involved in the creation,evolution, and/or devolution of many of them. But calling Bruce Mau a graphicdesigner would be akin to calling Mae West a playwright--technically correct,but oh-so-limiting.This mammoth catalogue raisonn+¬ of Mau's graphic work (which only PhaidonPress has the resources, and the patience, to produce) is the much-anticipatedfollow-up to the 1995 sensation S, M, L, XL that Mau coauthored withrenowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Nearly as big, but much more colorful,Life Style offers a compendium of thoughts on the conflicts andconundrums that so perplex concerned aesthetes in Western civilization,including suburban sprawl, ecological threats, the implications of identitycreation, and the role of the graphic arts in architecture and design.Trying to pin down this huge undertaking to only a few highlights would be adisservice to a man who counts such luminaries as Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, JohnCage, Michael Snow, Meg Stuart, and Chris Marker as friends and colleagues. Thecenter section alone, which recounts and reprints the celebrated spreads fromhis publishing venture Zone Books, would be worth the price: "The times wereextraordinary--the middle 1980s, the height of American yuppie culture gorgingitself on wealth. The Macintosh computer had only just been introduced and wasmaking itself felt in the world of typography by virtue of its capacity todistort fonts. It would eventually transform the field of design, disseminatingexpertise and clustering capacities vertically. Faxes and FedEx were makingpossible a new level of international collaboration that would soon put aToronto designer at the center of a transatlantic project. That project wasZone."The collaboration at Zone Books enabled some of the most provocative bookprojects ever seen, and they are reproduced faithfully in Life Style(although one might need a magnifying glass to get the most out of them). Zonewas the first and most satisfying of Mau's team projects, and the pleasure ofits success is apparent in the book. But readers will find much more of interestdocumented here, including his revolutionary stint at I.D. Magazine; hisbrilliant realization of a book version of the underground, classic sci-fithriller "La Jet+¬e"; and his ideas for information interchange at severalmajor architectural projects, including right here in Seattle, working with hisfriend Koolhaas in building the controversial new Seattle Public Library.All things considered, this major book will leave some readers furious at BruceMau's audacity and others aghast at his cross-disciplinary influences. I doubtthat there's anyone working in design today who has had quite his impact. Thisbook is a beautifully realized celebration of that impact, and very much worththe wait.By the way, Phaidon has produced this book with eight different and gorgeousfabric covers. Yours might differ from our rather inadequate representation onthe site. As with S, M, L, XL, I predict that some day all of them willbe (ahem) "coollectors'" items. --Charles Decker

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About the author (2000)

Mau, principal of the Toronto-based firm Bruce Mau Design, is the designer of the critically acclaimed Zone series.

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