Lessons from a Black professional’s journey through corporate America, unlocking the power of transformative design, multidisciplinary leaps, and diversity
Design offers so much more than an aesthetically pleasing logo or banner. In Reimagining Design: Unlocking Strategic Innovation, Kevin Bethune shows how design provides a unique angle on problem-solving—and reveals how it can be leveraged strategically to cultivate innovation and anchor multidisciplinary teamwork.
Bethune—Founder and Chief Creative Officer of dreams • design + life, a think tank for design and innovation—grounds this work within his journey as a Black professional through corporate America. He began his career as an engineer at Westinghouse, moved on to Nike where he designed Air Jordans, and now works as a sought-after consultant on design and innovation. Reimagining Design synthesizes this work and his experience over a career spanning more than twenty years, showing how design can transform both individual lives and organizations for the better.
“Reimagining Design represents my statement of optimism for a world undergoing exponential change and critical uncertainty,” Bethune writes. “Whether from accelerating computation, political division, or macroeconomic forces, periods of uncertainty increase our disposition for wanting improvement and, in some cases, revolution.”
With diversity, equity, and inclusion as a recurring theme, Bethune shows how, as we leverage design for innovation, we also need to consider the broader ecological implications of our decisions and acknowledge the threads of systemic injustice in order to realize positive change. Design transformation takes leadership—leaders who do not act as gatekeepers but instead build teams that mirror the marketplace. “Driven by optimism, curiosity, and a passion for blurring boundaries, Kevin is a role model for the next generation of design pioneers,” said filmmaker Gary Hustwit. “This book is required reading for anyone hoping to envision a new future for design.”
Design in harmony with other disciplines can be incredibly powerful, Bethune argues, and multidisciplinary team collaboration is the foundation of future innovation. With insight and compassion, Bethune provides a framework for bringing this about.
“I believe in creativity and critical thinking as necessary vehicles to instigate forward progress,” Bethune writes. “Let’s use our creativity to imagine new futures that can inspire hope.”
Reimagining Design in the media:
- An excerpt from Reimagining Design was published in Fast Company, sharing stories of Bethune’s time at Nike.
What Nike taught me about collaborative design
- The author was interviewed on the Your Working Life with Caroline Dowd-Higgins podcast.
Your Working Life with Kevin Bethune
- TMJ’s The Morning Blend in Milwaukee spoke to Bethune about Reimagining Design and his career.
The Power Of Transformative Design
- Fast Company included Reimagining Design in its list of design and architecture books to look forward to in 2022, writing that Bethune “puts multidisciplinary collaboration at the core of innovation.”
12 design and architecture books to get excited about in 2022
- Bethune was interviewed for the Design Lab with Bon Ku podcast, discussing how design transforms organizations.
Designing Strategic Innovation
- “An innovative and deeply personal book that is chock-full of insight and actionable content. Bethune's emphasis on ‘strategic’ design thinking, combined with his ability to balance his corporate and engineering knowledge with design, will unlock value for many readers, from new grads to the C-suite.”
—Annie Jean-Baptiste, author of Building for Everyone; founder, Equity Army