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Greg HolderfieldExecutive Director, Segal Design InstituteCo-director, MMM ProgramPentair - D. Eugene and Bonnie L. Nugent Clinical Professor of Design Innovation


Greg Holderfield believes that design innovation — which is essentially a human centered approach to problem solving that is universally applicable to any area of the human experience —is a unique blend of design thinking, computational thinking, maker culture, creativity, and business.

He further claims that design innovation is best learned through highly interactive and contextually engaging experiences that enable and empower students to understand the actual problem behind the perceived problem. It starts with putting students directly in the context of the problem space, where they understand stakeholder needs first-hand. This deep understanding allows them to gain empathy, which ultimately frames the opportunity in a way that is meaningful to people. These opportunity frameworks inform the generation of conceptual ideas, which are then prototyped and tested, and iterated upon through the use of constructive feedback loops. Lastly, students build outcomes that are not only original but desirable, feasible and viable.

Holderfield's role as a faculty member at Northwestern University is to create the best conditions for learning design innovation, which his research has shown to be based upon a studio culture that supports true multi-disciplinary collaboration, the sharing of ideas, constructive critique, curiosity, creative expression and making. Additionally, he is a hands-on teacher who leverages his years of professional practice to authentically inspire and challenge my students to go deeper in their own work, by pushing boundaries, asking tough questions and ultimately discovering and developing meaningful solutions that inspire. 


PhD, Design, Coventry University, Coventry, UK

MS, Product Design and Development Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

BFA, Industrial Design, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL

Teaching and Research Interests

Design thinking, business design, cultures of innovation, organizational leadership, product and service design and design strategy.


Professor Holderfield also holds 44 design and utility patents.


View PDF of Holderfield's CV.

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