The Iceland University of the Arts welcomes IDEO Chief Creative Officer Paul Bennett as Department Head of Design.

Listaháskóli Íslands, The Iceland University of the Arts (IUA) announces today the appointment of Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer at IDEO as the Department Head of its Faculty of Design. Mr Bennett will continue his role at IDEO and work with the university in an auxiliary capacity.
Known for its mission to encourage progressive thinking in the arts and stimulate innovation and development in different fields through its education programmes, the IUA selected Mr Bennett because he has been practising design at the forefront of the industry and for his belief that design is a force for positive societal change and can and should be a key partner with citizens and governments in activating and accelerating that change.
Fríða Björk Ingvarsdóttir, Rector of the IUA said: “We operate in a global environment and measure ourselves against the highest academic standards. We’re absolutely delighted that Paul is joining our faculty at this time. We are in the process of reinventing both what and how we educate, and to have Paul’s perspective and leadership help us think about these will be invigorating. Obviously, the fact that he continues to practice design at the leading edge and on the world stage is only good for our students and for us.”
Mr Bennett first visited Iceland in 2008, when the country found itself in the middle of a financial crisis to speak about design’s role as a driver of economic change. He was inspired by and became enamoured with the unique creativity, optimism and entrepreneurial spirit of the country.
“Over the years I have come back to Iceland again and again and that sense of possibility has only strengthened,” Mr Bennett said.
“COVID-19 has reinforced two beliefs in me,” he adds. “One, that helping to shape the minds of the next generation at a time when society is ready for that change and to do so in a place which is small, agile and excited about that change is critical; and two, that the design industry is logically being asked to step up and join together with governments and educational institutions to deliver that change on the ground. Many of my colleagues, including David Kelley, who founded the d-school at Stanford, share this belief in teaching and have been a huge inspiration to me for doing so. I am excited to work with the team here to do both of those things, and to continue my work at IDEO where I am able to bring a global perspective to Iceland and this unique Icelandic vantage point to the world.”
In his role as Department Head, Mr Bennett will work with students and staff to advance the narrative of what design can do inside of a country, as well as help communicate that vision on the world stage, fundraise and raise awareness both inside and outside of Iceland.
Sandy Speicher, CEO of IDEO said: “Everyone here is delighted for both Paul and the University; we fundamentally believe in the importance of design’s role in teaching and especially now at this critical moment in society.”
We welcome Paul Bennett on board.
About The Iceland University of the Arts
The Iceland University of the Arts is a self-governing institution providing higher education in fine arts, theatre, dance, music, design, architecture and art education.
The role of the Iceland University of the Arts is to encourage progressive thinking in the arts and to stimulate innovation and development in different fields. The IUA offers education in the arts at the university level and conveys both knowledge and professionalism in the arts to Icelandic society. It operates in a global environment and measures itself against academies that excel in arts education in neighbouring countries.
Three main values guide the focus and direction of the Academy in all of its work:
  • Curiosity
  • Understanding
  • Courage
Curiosity prompts us to ask questions and search for new approaches, solutions and answers. We dissect those answers and strive to understand what is foreign to us. Through understanding and training, we develop the talents and skills we require. In that way, we strengthen our courage to follow through on our convictions and our artistic vision.
About the Faculty of design
The Department of Design emphasizes students knowing about the ideological premise of design and design history and that they can, based on their knowledge, take an informed stance on the environment and society. Design, in a way, revolves around seeing the possibilities in what is yet to take place. Students are continuously encouraged to seek new solutions and ways and to cultivate originality, imagination and a critical mindset.
About Paul Bennett
Paul Bennett is IDEO’s Chief Creative Officer. 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.
Paul, a Brit who spent his early years in Singapore, has had an outstanding international career. 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 helping establish 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 with clients and governments across the globe; in the past he has worked with the government in Singapore, and recently he has been instrumental in shaping IDEO’s groundbreaking work with the government of the UAE.
Paul is a sought-after speaker and is invited to speak at major forums, including: The World Economic Forum; The World Government Summit, DesignMarch in Iceland, Boao Forum for Asia, TED Global; TEDx Tohoku, Dubai and Amazonia; The Economist Redesigning Business Summit, The AOL CEO Conference, the American Express Luxury Summit and Tokyo Midtown Opening, and more.
Paul’s thought leadership is also regularly published in a range of influential media, including: The New York Times, Medium, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Bloomberg Businessweek, Harvard Business Review, The Independent, The Guardian, China Entrepreneur Magazine, The Straits Times (Singapore), L’Espresso (Italy), RÚV TV (Iceland), To Vima (Greece), Khaleej Times (Dubai), ABC TV (Australia), and Channel News Asia. He has also appeared in prime-time BBC documentary Genius of Design, produced by the Oscar-winning production company, Wall-to-Wall, and A Meeting of Minds, a documentary co-produced by CNBC and Star Alliance.
A keen educator, Paul has taught and coached students from KHiO - Oslo National Academy of the Arts, the Royal College of Art (UK), Stanford University, Columbia Business School, and FIT’s (Fashion Institute of Technology, New York).