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Bureau of Doing Something About It

In 2010, the Toronto Complaints Choir collected over 1000 grievances, gripes, and annoyances from people across the city. The choir transformed these troubles into a siren song for the disenchanted. Bruce Mau Design was drawn to this initiative—an idea filled with huge opportunity. For designers—makers, problem-solvers, optimists—a complaint is a wish that things could be better.

When the Propeller Centre for the Arts invited BMD to put on an exhibition in its street-level gallery, we wanted to do something interactive that engaged the city. We decided to use the space to take on the complaints that we hoped we could solve. Over the course of twelve days, BMD invited the public to visit our pop-up studio to inquire, collaborate, ponder, and generally meddle in whatever way they liked. Our creative team worked in the gallery to research, ideate, and prototype design solutions to a variety of the city's complaints. More than anything, the project created a message of empowerment. The invitational, open-source environment demonstrated that anyone can question the way things are and that anyone can work to make things better.

Democratizing the power of design was perhaps our most meaningful solution. The process and outputs of the project were collected into a book that outlines the process and shares a set of nine design tools that anyone can use to take on tough challenges.

Read about the Bureau at Azure Magazine