Greg Van Bellinger’s talent for bridging product design and creative leadership has been refined over 25 years across apparel and industrial design. As Hardlines Design Director at Target, some of Greg’s most recent projects have included leading product design collaborations for Target with Marcel Wanders, Liberty, Missoni, and Neiman Marcus. He co-founded the Creative Council at Target and serves as an advisory board member to the University of Minnesota's Design College and the Weisman Art Museum.
"I am still as much in a learning mode now as I was as a student."
What was the pivot point that set you on your current path?
When I was in design school in the early 80's, I got a job at the Walker Art Center as an installation specialist to help pay for school. It allowed me to work alongside world famous artists, designers, and thought leaders. I was lucky enough to work under Mickey and Martin Friedman who were the directors of the Walker. They were redefining what an Art show from a major museum meant. I worked on the breakout show with Frank Gehry, and traveled around the US, as a college student, working in major museums installing the show that I had helped birth. It was a great learning experience, as I got to travel and work with artists and craftsmen who worked on other the museum's crews. They showed me the real cities and underground art and design scenes. I also learned my design managements skills then, by doing, and not in school. I could not wait to go to work, and school seemed so unimportant, as I was learning design in a world class setting with the best every day. Then, I was in a learning mode, and today I am the Vice President of Home Product Design for Target, and I am still as much in a learning mode now as I was as a student at the Walker Art Center.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s going through their own transformation?
Listen to your heart. Every time that I got off track, it was because I stopped listening to myself and started to listening to what others thought I should do. We live in an environment of instant gratification, and it hard to stick to your visions, especially in today's world.
Are you following the path of a trailblazer or being guided by a mentor?
I am following the path of a trailblazer. I have been doing that my whole life. I never exactly fit in anywhere comfortably, even as a kid. I was encouraged by my mother; her advice was that I could do anything, see the world and not be in a hurry to get married. I followed her advice and it has paid off!
Where in the world would you describe as the place that speaks to you - your soul place?
London. I lived there when I was in college, I learned to love the city looking for used bike parts to build bikes for myself and my friends to ride across Ireland and Wales. To find parts, I was forced to go to neighborhoods that you usually would not go. My dream trip is to go to Austria to ski with my kids and wife.
If you could do anything, what in the world would you want to do next?
I would love to take a year off and build a house, or houses. That might explain why my largest Pinterest board is called "Second Home"!
All images used with permission from Greg van Bellinger.