Record-breaking attendance makes DesignThinkers 2016 RGD's biggest celebration of design yet

With more than 2,100 participants over four days of activities, RGD's 17th annual DesignThinkers Conference was by far the largest gathering of creative professionals the Association has ever hosted. 


On Nov 3 and 4 at the Sony Centre in Toronto, DesignThinkers brought together visionary designers and strategic thinkers from across North America and beyond to discuss design and creative processes, from business design strategies to in-house management strategies, from type design to digital experiences, from Adobe to the MoMA to Walmart.


In addition to keynote addresses from Paola Antonelli, Leland Maschmeyer, Jake Barton and David Carson, the conference featured four streams of sessions: 

  1. Inspiration, featuring original work and fresh approaches from Tobias Frere-Jones, Kenya Hara, Fredrik Ost and Erik Kockum, Erin Sarofsky, Erik Kessels, Eddie Opara, Cory Doctorow, Meg Lewis, Steve Powers and Steven Heller  
  2. Strategy, examining the blueprints behind effective visual communications with Albert Shum, Dan Makoski, Ashleigh Axios, Stefan G. Bucher, Connie Birdsall, Loni Stark, Emily Cohen, Glenn John Arnowitz, Matt Willey and Michael Hendrix  
  3. Trends, exploring the themes and opportunities that propel the industry forward with Emily Lessard, Tim Irvine, Lee Steffen, Barry Quinn RGD, Rod McDonald RGD, Bob Calvano, Anton Repponen and Irene Pereyra, Rob Duncan, Bob Hambly RGD and Lotta Nieminen     
  4. Interactions, offering opportunities to reflect on timely topics affecting the world of design such as design as a strategic advantage in business, working with in-house brands, creative entrepreneurship, whether design can change the world and where great ideas come from.   


The event also included a Delegate Party sponsored by Fjord, featuring 'Design Confessions'-themed cocktails, apps and hors d'oeuvres and live artwork by Ben Weeks and Ian Turner.



Between presentations, panels and parties, delegates also had the opportunity to explore booths from exhibitors offering unique opportunities and experiences for creative industry professionals.



For photos from the Conferencethe Delegate Party, the exhibitor hall and more, visit RGD's Flickr page.


Speaker insights tweeted by attendees include:

: "(Graphic design) is not life or death, so why not take chances?"

: "Designers have entrepreneurial spirits and artistic leanings."

@ForgeInc: "Learn from your failures, and learn to enjoy your successes. All of them." @antonandirene

"Letting people into your process can accelerate innovation."

: "Design for all of us begins with design for each of us"

: "As you go forth, do no harm, but break some alarms."

@onthechase: "Just bc its called ant-man does not mean it will have ants" lol yes to not picking the most obvious solution @Sarofsky

"Turn flaws into superpowers." @darngooood

@ForgeInc: "We keep needing new typefaces because we keep having new problems " @frerejones

:The perfect museum needs to be a friend you want to spend time with

"Data fuels creativity and allows you to uncover patterns and motivations."


Comments from the event using the hashtag include:

@ShizAoki: So much energy @ the #RGDDT 2016!

@Chrissi_MD: "Another excellent #designthinkers in the bag! #rgdDT #DTmaster #dtconfessions"

@lauweatherston: "@RGD please tell me #rgddt 2017 is more than a 2-day affair. it wasn't enough."

@ArtoftheTitle: "We had a wonderful time at @RGD's DesignThinkers again this year! @thedailyheller was a definite highlight #rgdDT"

@Kylie_Bradshaw: "So inspired and excited for my future after attending Design Thinkers 2016 conference #RGDDT #ISeeTheLight"

@TimYeungDesign: "2 full days of stellar speakers, awesome convos, and a few card exchanges with awesome people. So motivating! Thanks @RGD #rgddt"

@VictoriaBreton: "#rgdDT was a wonderful experience filled w/ insight, inspiration & freebies! An awesome day that reaffirmed my passion for art & design. ✏️"

@KinseySmith: "Somehow my third DesignThinkers is already over! It's amazing every year so I guess I'm headed to Vancouver in May #rgdDT"

@CrimsonLaw: "Met Kenya Hara and @thedailyheller. Design gods. Wow. Still haven't fully processed it. #rgddt"

@GreerMullin: "Somehow David Carson's presentation was exactly what I imagined it would be. Chaotic, entertaining and full of meaning. #wonderful #RGDDT"


Check out the rest of the conversation by searching #rgdDT on Twitter and Instagram


For the story of this year's DesignThinkers branding, created by Deloitte, click here.


RGD Members can access presentation recordings from past conferences by visiting the Members Only section. This year's conference videos will be posted in the next 2-3 weeks.


Recordings of panels that reached capacity during the conference will be available to all in the coming weeks.