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Nate Berkus and Target: Why Design is a Team Sport

Nate Berkus and Greg Van Bellinger, Target’s Head of Home Product Design joined us last night for a panel discussion on emerging trends in design – from collaboration and inspiration to democratization.  With STORY founder Rachel Shechtman as moderator, the trio touched on personal definitions of design as well as how the ongoing partnership between Nate and Target has continued to evolve. Here are some insights from the night, as well as a look at all the mixing n’ mingling that went down inside our home for the holidays.

Design has always resonated because no matter who you are, where you live, and what your income is; you always want to live better. It’s universal and it tells your story.

Nate Berkus


How has design changed in the past few years? 

GVB: Design is a team sport. Now, there are more people on the team, which makes for a richer product. As you involve more people in the conversation, it gets richer.

NB: When I first started people approached us to create a space that embodied who they wanted to be. Now our clients want their space to express who they are. Our clients are more informed than ever and armed with a rich vocabulary – whether from Pinterest boards or Instagram.

What is the process of designing at Target like? 

GVB: Right now, we’re really working with our partners on getting back to the relationship between the designer and the craftsman because that’s where innovation really comes from. When you have the designer explaining his vision and the craftsman is able to weigh in – that’s when you start to develop new products and new ideas.

NB: Target is an amazing company for all the reasons you think it is. It’s creative and energetic and moves quickly. You come up with an idea and it happens. So the process to me is very important because it’s about bringing something to Target that’s not at Target. My team works to come up with products that are original but true to the Nate Berkus brand – I don’t put anything on the floor that I haven’t seen, touch, felt.

I am an information sponge. I try to live my life as wide open as possible because at Target, I am designing products that millions of people will use. You never know what’s going to connect or spark an idea.

Greg Van Bellinger

If you had to sum up your approach to design in 3 words:

GVB: Passion, change, failure

NB: Research, joy, authenticity

And most importantly…what’s one thing that can’t be Googled about you?

GVB: I’m related to the Wright Brothers

NB: I hate seafood. I have the eating habits of a six year old: if it’s white and yellow, I love it. Ceviche is “Fear Factor” for me.