Target’s Creative Council aims to energize designers by Gail Deibler Finke
Target, based in Minneapolis, is known for its design-focused stores, products, packaging, and advertising, which can only be
accomplished by an inspirational, creative
team. But even a company that continued
to grow despite a lagging economy some-
times finds it hard to attract “creatives.”
“It can be hard to get people to move
here,” jokes Rich Varda, senior vice presi-
dent for store design, who helped design
Target’s Creative Council program for the
retail giant’s design-oriented employees.
“It’s a bit chilly.”
After its first full year, the new strategy
to attract and keep innovative employees
by giving them more to create is already
reaping benefits. Not least, Varda says, is
greater appreciation of the creative staff by
Target’s business executives.
Photos: Digital Crush Photography, Minneapolis
As part of Target Creative Council’s activities, the Curative art exhibit brought together personal
artworks created by Target employees outside the work they do for the retailer. The show was
held at the Burnet Gallery in October 2011.
BRINGING TOGETHER CREATIVES
The idea for a Creative Council first emerged
at a leadership meeting for managers in the
summer of 2010. Discussing their departments, Varda, Greg Van Bellinger, director of design for hardlines product design
and development, and Michael Alexin, vice
president for softlines product design and
development, realized that their employees tended to use the same sort of processes and benefited from the same type of
environment and incentives.
“Our original goal was recruitment and
retention,” Varda says. “And beyond that, to
stimulate the community—both the com-
pany and the city as a whole.” The manag-
ers knew that making the company appeal
more to designers would only go halfway
toward recruiting and keeping them; these
creative employees also preferred a dynamic
environment outside of work.