• , Nov 2020
  • - Canada-UK Foundation

The Friday Files – news to inform and inspire

What can design offer for equity, effectiveness, and excellence in global health?
How can we both understand problems, and act in the world?

Led by the above questions, the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University recently hosted the discussion Design Principles for Critical Problem-Solving in Global Mental Health, bringing Canadian-born designer Bruce Mau in conversation with James Orbinski (Director, Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research), Sarah Bay-Cheng (Dean, School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York), and Irene Chong (Professor, School of Creative Arts & Animation at Seneca College).

Spread from Bruce Mau: MC24 showing core design principles
The greater the problem, the worse the crisis, the harsher the experience – the more significant the design opportunity.

Earlier this year Mau published Bruce Mau: MC24, Bruce Mau’s 24 principles for designing Massive Change in your life and work with Phaidon presenting the core principles behind his projects, whether they be books, institutions, brands, or social programs.  One such principle, Always Search for the Worst, expressed in the above statement, encapsulates the 2020 zeitgeist.  Mau gives it an optimistic, yet pragmatic, spin, in that he sees an opportunity for fundamental and responsible change in the design of the world (and not the world of design).  The conversation foregrounded the Dahdaleh Institute’s commitment to a radically different approach to global health.  To tackle the discussed challenges Mau underlined the foregrounding of empathy, proper assessment and resource allocation, and desired outcome, as foundations for proper change.

Named as an Honorary Royal Designer for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in 2011 in London for his achievement in graphic design, Mau subsequently crystallised his 24 motivating tenets for his design into the recent book.  He envisions his work more generally beyond graphic design, embracing what he terms “life-centred design.”  With the core belief that design can change the world, the book aims to captivate a wider audience who is seeking to transform our way of living on the planet with a more holistic, ecological, and responsible approach.  For more information on Bruce Mau: MC24, listen to this interview with Tim Marlow (CEO and Director, Design Museum), and also explore Mau’s Massive Change Network.  [This story contributed by Stefan Zebrowski-Rubin, Digital Communications Consultant]