Kent State Focuses University Lens on Design Innovation Strategy

Crain’s Cleveland Business recently highlighted Kent State University’s new Design Innovation Initiative, which is focused on connecting students from different disciplines to develop new ways of problem-solving.

J.R. Campbell serves as executive director of Kent State University's Design Innovation Initiative.

The Design Innovation Initiative will link students of any discipline to a wide range of university resources, for example the textile lab, which previously had been the domain of fashion design students.

Kent State named J.R. Campbell the first executive director of the initiative last year. Mr. Campbell has been working at Kent State since 2009, and he has spent extensive time researching, designing and creating artwork with digital textile technology.

Mr. Campbell is known for design innovation and multidisciplinary collaboration through efforts that include the Fashion/Tech Hackathon, TechStyleLAB and his continued advocacy for makerspaces and entrepreneurialism. He took part in the group that proposed a Center for Design Innovation, as part of the Kent State fundraising BIG IDEA campaign in 2017.

The initiative will soon be offering courses, specifically designed to be part of any major, not a new degree program.

“We want to address cross-disciplinary collaboration in teams to help our students build the muscles, essentially, to seek out those kind of really diverse teams as a means for how they would tackle any problem and to really think across the disciplines,” Mr. Campbell told Crain’s Cleveland Business.

The university has plans to renovate the old art building into the new “DI Hub.” The design phase is completed, and construction will begin in April.

To read more from Crain’s Cleveland Business, visit

To read more about the Design Innovation Initiative, visit

To read more about J.R. Campbell and his expertise, visit

POSTED: Friday, March 8, 2019 01:51 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 06:53 AM
Olivia Boris