On November 6 and 7, 1,500 design, marketing and communications professionals gathered in Toronto for the Association of Registered Graphic Designers’ 14th annual DesignThinkers Conference. The goal was to explore the industry trends, strategies, best practices and technologies influencing the future of design communications.

From the insightful and thought-provoking presentations of 25 global creative visionaries, four things were clear: that design has the power to transform society; that the future of both business and design includes purpose and social engagement; that Canadians have a large role to play in this ideological shift; and that we all have the capacity to unlock our inner creativity.

Explains Robert Fabricant, VP of Creative at the global, multidisciplinary firm frog design, “Design can bring social value and business value together, focusing on simpler needs and leveraging resources from both sides.” Disney’s Global Creativity & Innovation Director Christopher Chapman expands on that point: “In the future, all business will have design thinkers solving creative problems with compassion, collaboration, quality and purpose.”

As to how this should be done? In the words of Bruce Nussbaum, author of Creative Intelligence and former Business Week Editor, “Life isn’t about experience; it’s about participation. We’re building an engagement-driven economy.”

“There is an unprecedented opportunity for design in Canada. The world is looking to us for leadership,” stressed Ottawa-based design/accessibility consultant David Berman RGD.

Creativity is inherent in all of us, and a skillset that we have the capacity to build upon. “We are all born creative – unfortunately it gets trained out of most of us at an early age,” said Michael Gough, Vice President of Experience Design, Adobe. “We imagine a world where everyone has the opportunity to celebrate their unique creative gifts.” Agreed Chapman, “Every person on the planet has the potential to improve their creativity.”

Additional partner programming included a Design Educators Conference at York University, presentation of the first-ever DesignThinker of the Year Award, an Open Doors event with 20 creative studios and Canada’s first-ever ‘Pixels of Fury’ event.

See photos from the event at flickr.com/photos/rgdontario/sets. For a list of speakers, go to designthinkers.com. Presentation videos will be made available to press upon request.


About RGD

Representing over 3,000 members, RGD is a hub for the graphic design community, promoting knowledge sharing, continuous learning, research, advocacy and mentorship.