DesignThinkers Toronto 2017: 11 Presentations Confirmed
Check out the 11 presentations confirmed so far for the 2017 Toronto DesignThinkers Conference.


Additional sessions and the exact schedule will be added in a few weeks! Visit for more details and to register. Advanced Early Bird rates end July 21.


Now in its 18th year, DesignThinkers is the only Canadian conference focused exclusively on graphic design and visual communications. The conference offers in-depth discussions into developments and the future of design and design thinking, helping delegates strengthen their ability to develop effective communications and facilitate innovation through design.


In addition to four keynotes, conference sessions run concurrently in four streams - Inspiration, Strategy, Trends and Interactions - allowing attendees to select presentations most suited to their experience and interests. Presentations include:


Jessie Kawata, Creative Strategist & Lead Industrial Designer at NASA JPL

As humanity ventures deeper into the solar system and the marketplace of space becomes more assessable, the more it makes sense for rocket science to invite design-thinking to the big table. Not only does space science need storytelling support at the end of a mission lifecycle, they can benefit from working with designers to strategize the future at the start. From creating new ways to investigate climate data to brainstorming new interplanetary mission opportunities, Jessie explains how she introduced a new culture of strategic creativity by putting design on the map of rocket science.


Michael Johnson, Creative Director & Principal at Johnson Banks

In over 30 years at the coalface of design and branding, Michael has pretty much seen it all. He's had 9 jobs, been fired from 3. He started a company 25  years ago that now has massive clients across the globe. He rebranded Mozilla entirely in the open, launched a world-beating campaign for the University of Cambridge and branded the Science Museum – whilst knocking out dozens of stamps and hundreds of posters. He’s written a book on problem solving and more recently branding. His next book is a romp through the good and bad things he’s learned. Come and hear a few of them.


Dewey Reid, VP & Executive Creative Director at CNN

Only 2 years ago CNN was a TV channel, a web site and an app. Now CNN is broadcasting on 32+ platforms. The complexity of delivering the news to individual platforms and individual audiences has been the largest design challenge in my career. CNN news on Social, OTT, apps, conversational devices and beyond requires extreme cooperation between Design, Editorial, Product, Marketing and Development. In his presentation, Dewey talks about the design and cooperation challenges for delivering a modern broadcasting ecosystem and how to solve them. See how Dewey and his global team address the difficulties of designing for multiple platforms and engage audiences 24-7, 365 days a year.


Emily Cohen, Creative Business Consultant

Love? In Business? Yes! If your business is lovable, clients and employees will come running toward you with the best projects and great referrals – possibly even arms full of chocolates and roses. But, love isn’t a box full of beautifully packaged chocolates or fine wine. It’s not a fun poster or even a unique give-away. It’s less tangible and something you give your clients and staff all year long. In this inspiring talk, you’ll learn why infusing love across all aspects of your business is important to your long term success and the top 12 strategies for building and sharing the love.


Jonathan Ford, Founding Creative Partner & CEO at Pearlfisher

As humans living in an age of experience, we want it all but are crippled by choice. We seek safety in continuity but crave the novelty of the unknown; we demand full transparency but expect to be surprised. And, in the same way that we try to reconcile conflicting needs in one life partner - thrill me but hold my hand; be different but stay the same - we’re unreasonably exacting of brands. Jonathan stakes a provocative claim: just as social media and online dating have compromised mystery in love, the pressure to ‘be the consumers’ friend’ has eliminated the magic of reveal for brands. Drawing striking parallels between the dynamics of human and brand relationships, Jonathan discusses why today's shifting landscape requires brands to change their focus from love to desire and how they can use design to create, update and reinvent desire and create success.


Maria Doreuli & Ekaterina Kochinka, Partners at Contrast Foundry

Does nationality affect your work as a designer and are stereotypes about countries true? Let’s talk about Russia. What do most people know? Beautiful women, rich cultural heritage, fairytales, vodka, parties and luxury, first cosmonaut, Kremlin, politics… But what is it really like, being Russian and can type design and lettering reflect the Russian soul? Maria and Ekaterina show what makes their projects different. Russian-born, studied in the Netherlands, traveling around the world and working internationally, they still consider ourselves truly Russian and present work that reflects that through lettering and type.


Robert Vargas, Creative Director at Bloomberg Businessweek

We live more deeply than ever in a social media constructed echo chamber of self-affirmation. Everyone is living an ideal life and congratulating each other for it. As creatives, the way we present our professional selves is no different. Bragging and self-promotion can become indistinguishable. We clamour for institutional merit so that we can show the world how humbled we are when we receive recognition. Our belief in our immeasurable creative value has caused our list of skill sets to grow in a way that covers every feasible employment scenario. The basic takeaway is: I am awesome and proud of it. For people for whom self-love comes easily, this is a comfortable extension of their impulses. For self-loathers, not so much. Is there a way to survive and even be relatively fulfilled when your closest ally is a relentless inner critic? Does the fact that narcissists are praised and rewarded at the highest professional levels make it an aspirational way of being? And why does anything matter anymore, anyway? Rob uses his vast amount of compelling life experience and unmatched depth of knowledge to answer these questions both eloquently and authoritatively.


Jeff Greenspan, Founder at SideProject

Working in advertising and design teaches us many things. Most importantly, we learn how to harness the power of words and images to capture attention and manipulate emotions. If we resign these skills to simply selling brands and services, we run the risk of becoming nothing more than accountants with photoshop. We have the opportunity, with our professional and personal projects, to promote our own values and inject culture with a vision of the world we want to live in. We can get people thinking, and acting, in more productive and positive ways. In this presentation, Jeff shares projects, both silly and serious, that have achieved these goals and offer valuable lessons for finding new outlets for one’s tools and one’s talents.


Robin Honey RGD, Chief Creative Officer at Arcane

Al Ries famously said: “Names do matter. Depending on the category, the name alone can represent the primary reason for the brand's success.” Robin has successfully named more than 50 products, companies and organizations during her career as she has segued from ad agency, to brand boutique, to Chief Creative Officer at a digital ad agency. Her training as a designer, married with her word play and writing abilities, have morphed into a unique talent for creating a brand name with strong visual possibilities, as well as solid platform for implementing a marketing strategy. Naming is as much science as art. Understanding the legal and domain restrictions is an important component for success. Robin will talk about how she approaches the scientific part and explain how that impacts the brand identity. Using examples from consumer, business-to-business, and not-for-profit, Robin will outline the steps to a successful brand launch - from naming, to identity, and then to brand strategy.


Paul Sahre, Owner at Office of Paul Sahre

Why do it? Why be a designer? Is it even a choice? Having just finished writing a design memoir, Paul is ready to share his struggles with this question during his 30 years on planet earth as a graphic designer. Paul uses examples of his own work for wildly imaginative clients: directors, writers, musicians, artists, to arrive at the conclusion that ultimately, the designer's life is one of constant questioning, inventing, failing, dreaming and ultimately making.


...more to come!