In our DesignTalks Spotlights, we go into the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of what you should know about each of our DesignTalks speakers and why we are so excited about their work.
We covered Christien Meindertsma in our first post, Alexander Taylor in our second post, Ersin Han Ersin in our third, Michèle Degen in the fourth, and most recently Studio Folder. Paul Bennett is the last speaker of our lineup. In addition to speaking, Paul is also moderating DesignTalks with the curator Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir.
Paul Bennett is the Chief Creative Officer at IDEO, a global design company whose work has inspired the world of design to apply its creative skills to solve complex challenges that will improve societies at large. IDEO applies “design thinking” to business to describe the range of IDEO’s work across industries and challenges. IDEO focuses on transforming complex issues and “small, universal, and overlooked problems” through consumer products and user experiences. The company applies human-centered design to alleviate poverty through its nonprofit branch IDEO.org.
What has he done? What is he doing now?
Trained as a graphic designer, Paul is “a pragmatic design evangelist, preaching fervently that design can make the world a better place.” Before joining IDEO in 2001, Paul co-founded nickandpaul—a pioneering brand design business based in New York, where his clients included Coca-Cola, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, and Unilever.
Since joining IDEO, Paul has enjoyed an extensive international career. According to Paul’s IDEO biography, he “created IDEO’s largest global practice, Consumer Experience Design; ran its San Francisco office, setting a robust and enduring creative direction; extended IDEO’s international reach in founding its presence in China; established and led its New York office, increasing IDEO’s share of influence in the US market; and delivered impact to clients and new growth to IDEO’s business in Europe. Today, Paul continues to provide creative leadership and cross-pollination of insights and ideas to clients and colleagues on an extended scale by traveling, learning, and working across the globe.”
He is a sought-after lecturer, speaker and writer for his thought leadership by platforms including The World Economic Forum, TEDGlobal, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, and Bloomberg Businessweek. He has also taught students from the Royal College of Art (UK), Stanford University, Columbia Business School, and FIT’s (Fashion Institute of Technology, New York) Executive Beauty and Fragrance Marketing program and Capstone Project in the US.
Why is his work important?
IDEO is known as a pioneer of human-centered design whose work spills into almost every industry from transportation, healthcare, mobility, education, technology, and more. With nine global offices and open platforms for design resources, IDEO’s influential approach of ‘design thinking’ has become deeply ingrained in design vernacular. Always developing their methods, IDEO has continued launching innovation labs, creating pop-up incubators, live-prototyping new businesses, and designing in code.
As a partner and one of five senior executives, Paul works with clients, partners, and colleagues to bring to market human-centric, commercially successful, and socially significant new businesses, products, services, and experiences. He is responsible for content excellence across IDEO, and is active in developing and publishing new thinking in the field of human-centered and design-led innovation.
IDEO has significantly contributed to the keen sense of social responsibility and duty in contemporary design. Through his work at IDEO, Paul has helped to elevate design’s contemporary role from a discipline that solely produces objects to be sold in the marketplaces of industry into a force that shapes society and the structures of industry itself.