The future leaders of design will be multi-disciplinary individuals who carve unique spaces for themselves and support their communities through education and advocacy. Kevin Bethune serves as a great example with his work as Founder and Chief Creative Officer of dreams · design & life. Luckily, for those interested in design and strategy, he recently released a new book. You can find some of his insights and stories in Reimagining Design: Unlocking Strategic Innovation, available now via MIT Press and a bookstore near you. In the book, Bethune presents valuable insights on how the design world is currently evolving, as well as how the role of the designer will likely shift in the near future.
“Reimagining Design” author Kevin Bethune
Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.
The design professional is a prominent figure for his strategic expertise and focus on advocating for greater equity within the field. His impressive resume includes a start in nuclear engineering, followed by business consulting and designing for Nike, and finally merging his many skills by founding his very own think tank. Bethune has set himself apart in the industry by leveraging all of his talents to provide invaluable insights to his clients.
Given his experience, Bethune’s book is an essential resource for designers looking to shake up the industry. Want to strengthen designer presence in your organization, but tired of the conversation around design thinking? Bethune is too, and much like the book title promises, he aims to unlock strategies that make teams more thoughtful and efficient. He tells Core77 that Reimagining Design is “less about design thinking, and more about design’s strategic positioning to elevate strategic impact, future foresight and resilience within organizations.”
He notes that a main motivation for clarifying these practices has much to do with an “ivory tower problem” in design. Bethune tackles this head-on in the material and mentions, “The goal of the book is to shatter the ceiling of ambiguity by sharing my learnings from personal and professional lived experience as a Black man navigating extreme multidisciplinary leaps. Diversity is an important underpinning through every chapter, especially as our field is woefully behind in DEI concerns.”
In fact, much of Reimagining Design emphasizes that a key to innovation in the field has much to do with diversity in a true and deeply embedded sense. The future will require more multidisciplinary teams to handle critical uncertainties, and Bethune recognizes that doing so thoughtfully means reflecting on who gets seats at the table. “Our field has left out so many voices, and allowed a privileged few to dictate the pedagogy. That creates the potential for stifled creativity and for more biases and ignorance to continue. The spaces we navigate—institutions, enterprises—are the way they are by design. Let’s recognize that and unpack the systemic inequities that exist within each and every design opportunity,” he adds.
For Bethune, it’s crucial to unpack these inequities in order to unlock the power diverse teams have to radically innovative. “Diversity enriches creativity. Better creativity breeds innovation. Innovation fuels growth, and hopefully it will be responsible growth if our future teams are truly diverse, equitable and inclusive,” he says.
The book provides insights for people of color who want to get ahead in the industry, while also challenging norms and systemic injustice. Because the righting of these wrongs demands intersectional collaboration, it’s also a resource for allies. Those who are looking to upend barriers for previously excluded communities and welcome the innovation new voices bring to the practice will find helpful actionable items within the writing.
In other words, Reimagining Design is the kind of narrative the industry is in desperate need of as design and its place in the world evolves. Anyone who understands the inherent value design can hold beyond its traditional scope ought to add this as a new staple in their book collection.