Image: Getty Images

It’s June of 1967 and I’m about to graduate from high school. It was a pivotal year. A year that changed the way we listened and heard. Rules were broken, new pathways were charted. We got our ears opened and our eyes followed.

I’ve been thinking about times when the…


Photo, Martin Sanchez

A few days ago I was in Florida and got to swim in the sea, after a long time away from it. More than being a long time, it’s something that I thought I might never get to experience again.

My illness of a year ago had me fighting for survival and eventually regaining my strength. A struggle that forced me to keep my values and vision of being well intact, while I slogged along the path to get there. …


Photo, Matt Stern

At the age of 16 I had a job as a counselor on a two month, cross-country camping tour. Starting just outside of New York City, we took forty teen agers across the country for the entire summer, sleeping out at National Parks.

For me it was a chance to flee the steamy city, take on new responsibilities and as it turned out, learn some early lessons in design.

The campers traveled in a large air conditioned bus and supplies were lugged along in a truck and trailer. The whole thing was impeccably…


It’s 11:00 a.m., Easter weekend, March 1967.

I’m in a cramped, dressing room at the RKO, 58th Street in mid Manhattan. Circa 1940s furnishings, grimy windows, daylight filtered through the fire escape outside.

Keith Moon is lying on an old ratty sofa with a beautiful young woman while taking swigs…


jim cohen 2017

At a young age I had a realization.

Standing on a beach, gazing at the ocean, on Long Island or the Jersey shore, I suddenly felt myself a tiny part of something enormous, linked to every human and somehow a part of the earth, sea and sky. It shook me, left me humbled, feeling like I’d discovered some…


Max and Ruth Berliner, Atlantic City, 1920's

I’m thinking about storytelling. How we pass the word down about what’s influenced us; the places we’ve been, people we’ve seen, the odd, hilarious, occasionally scary, way-out and wonderful situations we find ourselves in.

I look at telling our stories as a vital link to defining who we are, what…


jim cohen 2017

I keep thinking about the importance of legitimacy. Especially now, at a time where fake has blurred the boundaries of real and created the confusing, intentionally distracting alternate universes of real / fake and fake / real.

I’m drawn to real / real. By my definition, it’s the stuff and experiences that; feel genuine, tell the truth, are based on a set of beliefs and principles, are well-crafted, cared for. They have honest intention. They’re not trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

They mean what…


jim cohen 2012

Over the last thirty years or so, I’ve had the great privilege of working with exceptional clients and gifted designers through the process of designing systems, services, environments, identities, retail prototypes, communication platforms, products, you name it.

Most were excited about doing great work, thrilled to be bringing something authentic and different to organizations, consumers and perhaps changing the world.

But, a recurring theme emerged. Often something was left out of the equation that got in the way of the great outcomes they wanted.

In the zeal…


jim cohen 2015

5 Albums to keep us in the light

The start of our journey into this bright new year needs a soundtrack.

I don’t know about you, but music gets a hold of me and has the ability to point the way, shine a light, be a reminder of what’s good, right, real, and empathic. …


Jim Cohen 2014

New Orleans, I was thrown into the midst of this enigmatic town in the late seventies. Seventy-nine to be exact.

I was a young, curious, designer and partner in a growing, national, commercial interior architectural design firm in Chicago. …

Jim Cohen

Champion of what’s real, creative, courageous. Transformation facilitator, innovation design sherpa, trusted advisor. jim@spark-us.com www.jimcohensherpa.com

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