For more than 35 years, world-renowned design leader James Sommerville has had the unique perspective and experience of being a scrappy start-up entrepreneur and then design chief at one of the world’s most iconic and visible global brands.

James has spoken on the topic of design and branding at more than 250 global locations and live events over the past 30 years as a keynote speaker, panelist, and/or judge. Many have seen him as a source of inspiration in the global design industry.  Surprisingly, all this while admittedly being an introvert. 

But with many companies looking to James’s creativity and professionalism, he’s not exempted from having that pressure that comes with large design and identity changes creeping upon him. Luckily, he has a way to combat stress and introverted nature while maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. 

Workout to Avoid Burnout

According to most studies, almost any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. Working out according to James also has a direct correlation to how brands can stay fit and healthy.

Just as physical activity helps increase the production of endorphins in the human brain, making a person feel better and a better leader.

More than ever, we are in an age where everything your company does is considered its brand and that needs exercise too: Brand is community, consumer engagement, content, social, environment and so much more, not just a logo or color palette that remains static. “It makes sense to put some effort into your brand identity and culture, right?” says James.

After working out himself, he then balances client-led design thinking consultation work for icons such as Ford, HP, Coca-Cola, Google, WW, while simultaneously building the KnownUnknown, a global design community he recently founded.

Over his entire career James has tirelessly given his time to pushing the creative industry his entire career and promoted his roots of British design and creativity all across the world as a keynote speaker, or an educator. 

Connecting Creatives Everywhere 

In 2018, James decided the future of the creative and design industry should be on-demand and distributed and founded a platform where designers from all over the world could come together, collaborate virtually and reinvent the traditional creative agency.

James established the design-led social media platform, KnownUnknown, where designers from all over the world are invited to join together as one network, in just several months approaching 4,000 members from 100+ countries. 

“One day all creatives will be sourced through KnownUnknown. It will become the destination for all designers in the world to share, collaborate and learn from each other. We are driving to have five million members in the next three years,” he said. 

Through KnownUnknown, users can experience various activities such as community based mentoring and coaching, collaborations, talks, and more where they can experience professional growth through a new model that promotes camaraderie while upholding the craft, defining the true value of design, even a 1:1 portfolio review with James for the next generation of young rockstar designers. “They certainly give me a workout.” concludes James.

Find out more about James Sommerville through his Instagram account or visit