John Bielenberg

        John Bielenberg is an accomplished and passionate 21st-century designer who is best known for his work in the early 2000s that aimed to create a better world. He is also well known for encouraging revolutionary design thinking processes to inspire projects of positive change in areas that need it.

        John Bielenberg’s early childhood years are not described in accessible sources, but sources provide that Bielenberg lived his teen years in Vestal, New York. After graduating from high school there, he went on to attend Binghamton University and Rochester Institute of Technology (Bielenberg, Facebook). Working as a designer around the 1990s, Bielenberg encountered a client, an investor, who described the need for a behavioral psychologist to analyze his fellow investors. The client explained that commonplace biases of investors often interfered with sound and lucrative investment decisions. This moment was crucial for Bielenberg’s development as a designer because it was at this moment that he realized designers were also held back by commonplace biases. He realized that the status quo in the design world hinders revolutionary thought (Project M). In future presentations regarding his realization, he describes the status quo as a horizontal line. Revolutionary thought is a line launching upward from the horizontal status quo, but the gravity of the flat status quo pulls the revolutionary thought back down to controlled thought. He labeled the pivot point of these two conflicting lines, the moment when revolutionary thought breaks free from traditional thought, the “thinking wrong” point (Bielenberg, “Think Wrong”). Embracing this “thinking wrong” idea ultimately lead to many future successes in Bielenberg’s life.

        In 2003, John Bielenberg established Project M as a side hobby, separate from his main job. Project M’s goal was to place groups of young designers in situations where they had to collaboratively and revolutionarily develop a project to benefit the area they found themselves in. Bielenberg incorporated his own thinking process called “thinking wrong” into the structure of these projects. His process is step by step and proceeds as follows: be bold, get out, let go, make stuff, bet small, and move fast. Many wonderful things were created as a result of this process and Project M. For example, a summer game was invented for kids in a neighborhood with a high poverty rate that incorporated spelling and basketball. Another invention of Project M was a horseshoe pit park in a neighborhood in Detroit that so desperately needed a common safe space for neighbors to get together (Bielenberg, “Think Wrong”). Project M gained a lot of attention in the media and therefore further established John Bielenbergs presence in the design world.

        In the meantime, John Bielenberg continued to thrive as a world-bettering designer. In 2008, he became a fellow of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Three years later, in 2011, he was awarded a NASAD Citation for his many notable efforts and accomplishments in the world of design (Project M). Although his popularity, as well as Project M’s activities, has faded out of the spotlight in recent years, John Bielenberg is still a respectable and memorable designer. Today, he lives in Saint George, Maine (Bielenberg, Facebook). 


Works Cited

Bielenberg, John. About section of his Facebook profile. Facebook, 5 April 2022.Jo

Bielenberg, John “Think Wrong, Do Good | John Bielenberg | TEDxDirigo.” YouTube, uploaded by Tedx Talks, Dec. 2015,

“Project M – Thinking Wrong since 2003.” Project M – Thinking Wrong since 2003, (featured image)