DesignThinkers Toronto 2018 brings together over 2,000 creatives
Jessica Hische

Photography by Connie Tsang

On October 24 and 25, over 2,000 creatives filled the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in downtown Toronto to attend the 19th annual DesignThinkers Conference in Toronto. Under the theme of 'Speak the Truth,' speakers and delegates alike engaged in honest and frank conversation about what it means to be a visual communicator in the world today.


Day 1 of the Conference featured talks from Adrian Shaughnessy, Bonnie Siegler, Alex CenterEmily Cohen and Grace Hwang, among many others. Speakers discussed topics such as designing for behaviour change, managing clients and diversity in design. 


A man with his back to a screen that says \"I am a successful graphic designer.\"


















Alex Center


A woman standing in front of a screen on a stage. On the screen there is an image and it says \"embrace conflict.\"


















Emily Cohen


Day 1 finished off with the Delegate Party at Bier Markt, where delegates and speakers were able to mingle, network and enjoy some delicious hors d'oeuvres.


A man and a woman smiling. The man has light skin, short curly hair and glasses. The woman has long curly hair, light skin and glasses. The man is holding a drink.





















Delegates Paul Twa and Olivia Montagnese at the Delegate Party


Day 2 of DesignThinkers was packed with just as much honesty and truth as the day before. Michael Bierut, Jessica HischeForest Young, Ayse Birsel and many others took the stage to discuss topics such as their careers, how to design the work you love and future design.


A Black man in a black blazer and a colourful shirt is on a stage. There is a screen behind him. He is wearing glasses and he has a short beard.


















Forest Young


A far-away shot of a man on a stage, speaking behind a podium. There is a screen on the stage and a book is shown on the screen. The book is titled \"How to\".


















Michael Bierut


In addition to the regular Conference sessions, delegates were able to participate in workshops, roundtable discussions and networking sessions. This additional programming allowed delegates to tailor their Conference experience even further.


A group of people standing over a table while tracing letters.


















Delegates during the "Mmmm... Typography, I Love You" workshop


People sitting at various roundtables talking and laughing.


















Delegates during a Roundtable Session


The Conference was proud to feature its first ever official charity, North York Women's Shelter (NYWS). Mohini Datta-Ray, Executive Director of NYWS, delivered an inspiring talk on the Shelter's plans for a new, state-of-the-art anti-violence centre that will provide shelter, safety and drop-in services to hundreds of diverse women, children and their pets from across Toronto who are impacted by violence. Together, delegates raised approximately $4,000 for this new centre.


A woman standing on a stage behind a podium with a screen behind her.


















Mohini Datta-Ray, Executive Director of North York Women's Shelter


The Conference also hosted an awards ceremony for the 2018 DesignThinkers of the Year for Eastern Canada. Award winners Michael Friisdahl, President & CEO of MLSE and Michael Katchen, Co-Founder at CEO of Wealthsimple were both present to accept their awards. The DesignThinker of the Year award is given to Canadian corporate leaders who have incorporated design thinking into their organizations to achieve business objectives and drive innovation.



























Wendy Millard RGD, RGD's President and Michael Friisdahl, President & CEO of MLSE























Michael Katchen, Co-Founder & CEO of Wealthsimple and Wendy Millard RGD, RGD's President


Additional Conference features included an all-day Designer Marketplace where communications and creative companies were able to exhibit their products and services to delegates, a Live Magazine space hosted by Frontier, and a Creative Earners space, where delegates could fill out the newly-launched national salary survey for creative communicators.


Delegates and speakers were also invited to share about the Conference and "speak their truth" online using the hashtag #rgdDT. See a handful of the social media banter below:


@hilarywallsdesign: Our best work comes from when we speak the truth. Loved the honest presentations and enjoyed the meaningful conversations @DesignThinkers conference. Proud to be an @rgdhub designer!  


@deckchairs: Lessons learned & reinforced at superb Design Thinkers this week:
—Actually communicate with clients.
—Be a publisher or think like one.
—Find yourself by losing yourself in others.
—Purpose always beats profit.
—But prosperity beats purpose.
—Teach what matters.
Tx @RGD #rgdDT. 


@miranda_creative: She believes she can so she does.
This week has been one I will never forget. On Sunday I met the ray of sunshine, Meg Lewis for her #FullTimeYou workshop. If you are at all feeling like you need some guidance in your life and or career, I urge you to check out her workbook!
Later in the week I attended the Design Thinkers conference where I witnessed countless top notch designers speak their truth including the talented and lovely @jessicahische. This event always reignites my passion for design and I am so grateful to have been supported by @rgdhub and @fusiondg to be able to attend. 


@mgoldst: #rgdDT takeaways:
1. Designers really do mostly wear black.
2. Taking care of yourself > taking care of business.
3. There are lots & lots of ways to be a designer.
4. Comic Sans ain’t so bad.
5. Graphic design inspires a LOT of puns.
6. @RGD puts on a great conference! 


@alexcristiano_: I participated in both roundtables this year for the first time: issues in design management and UX/UI challenges. Great dialogue, concrete takeaways and deep revelations about the future of our profession. Pretty insightful stuff for an 8am start time #RGDDT @RGD



Thank you to our photographer Connie Tsang Photography for capturing DesignThinkers in photographs. Click here to view all of the photos from this year's Conference.


We'd also like to thank our Conference Partners: AdobeCategory 5Creative NicheFlash ReproductionsThe Pixel ShopPorterRolland and Zulu Alpha Kilo


RGD members will have access to recordings of all of the talks in the Members Only section once they are uploaded.