John Bielenberg

creator / thinker / designer

Project M Lab

When Wrong is Right

October 25 | 9:00 | Tower Theatre

The way we solve problems is broken—we’re trapped by techniques and assumptions of the past. Todays big challenges like climate change, population growth, species extinction and new technologies emerge at an ever-accelerating rate. We struggle to find the imaginative answers we crave and when we do, biology and culture conspire to obstruct our progress. Find out how thinking wrong can conquer the status quo and help you do work that truly matters


October 25 | 5:00 | 120 minutes | The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin

Thinking Wrong Blitz

October 26 | 1:30 | 3.5 hours | DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Mt Bachelor Room

Imagine TED meets Design Thinking meets Hackathon meets Creative Insurgency. This Blitz will be an intense, fun, hands-on session to show you how to conquer the status quo and do work that matters. NOTE: THIS WORKSHOP IS 3.5 HOURS

Bend Design Speaker Panel: What keeps you up at night?

October 26 | 8:30 | 90 Minutes | DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Mt Bachelor Room

Join four creative problem solvers—Bijan BerahimiMiwa MatreyekMohan NairJohn Bielenberg—from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise for coffee (grab on your way) and conversation. Our guests will talk about staying culturally connected, evolving their careers, finding personal meaning in work, issues in our world that most need attention, and what gets them up in the morning. Moderated by Bend Design founder and co-producer René Mitchell.

John Bielenberg is a designer, entrepreneur, and imaginative advocate for a better world. He is the founder of Project M, CCA Secret Project, and co-founder of Future and Common. John delights in helping people find the courage and sense of humor to bring their stories, ideas, and ingenuity out into the world. He has won more than 250 design awards in his career, including the 2013 AIGA Gold Medal for leadership in the design for good movement. He became an AIGA Fellow in 2008.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has acquired six of John’s design projects, and staged a solo exhibition of his work in 2000. In 2009, he was awarded the Washington University Skandalaris Award for Design Entrepreneurship and went on to receive an honorary doctorate degree from Maryland Institute College of Art. He was also awarded the 2011 NASAD Citation for outstanding work and overall impact in the fields of art and design, as an author, educator, social activist, and designer. He teaches at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

In 2003, John created Project M, an immersive program designed to inspire and educate young designers, writers, photographers, and filmmakers by proving that their work—especially their wrongest thinking—can have significant impact on communities. Project M has developed projects in Alabama, Baltimore, Connecticut, Costa Rica, Detroit, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, Kansas, Maine, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Oklahoma.