1. What did taking on the DesignThinkers conference branding mean to you and your team at the time?
We wanted to use our work on the conference to demonstrate the team’s ability to create effective and memorable design programs. Before 2006, the Karacters Design Group Toronto office had previously felt overshadowed by the larger and highly awarded Vancouver office, so we saw DesignThinkers as our opportunity to showcase what we could do. This tied in well with the DesignThinkers conference itself, as it was in a time of great growth: we wanted to contribute new ideas to help it become one of North America’s premier design conferences.
2. Explain your concept and how you and/or your team got there?
We initially came up with the “Post No Bill” concept to communicate how designers needed to disrupt conformity with a personal expression of images and words. As we worked further on the concept, we realized that a successful DesignThinkers experience should be intrinsically related to one’s own engagement during and after the conference itself. Using the concept of “Wild Postings,” the program allowed attendees to create their own conference expression – from letting people map out their conference using 32 custom designed stickers, to leaving their comments on a 20-foot plywood hoarding, to collecting and trading buttons of their favourite speakers.
3. What was your biggest challenge being the Design Partner for DesignThinkers?
I’d say our biggest challenge was that our ideas and ambitions were much larger than our team’s day-to-day resources. For example, our plan was to begin with a poster design for each speaker, and let the posters shape the rest of the conference’s look and feel – meaning we had to finish the posters before we could even think about creating any of the other materials. The challenge of designing 32 unique posters in a timely manner was something we definitely underestimated. 4. How did it feel to present your work to a bunch of designers? And then see your work live during the event and witness people's reactions to it? We were really excited to share the work with our friends and colleagues. Seeing their reaction to things like the Wild Posting Wall and the demand for buttons was really rewarding. However, we did get a little jittery just before the conference as we started to realize how some renowned (and sometimes prickly) designers could react to our designs that sought to capture and reinterpret “their brands.” In the end we never did receive any direct negative feedback… we took that as a small victory!
5. What are you most proud of from your own experience? Is there anything you would have done differently?
We were really happy to bring to life many “firsts” for DesignThinkers – buttons, the Wild Posting Wall, an expanded conference guide and branded motion graphics. Versions and variations of these materials have been part of DesignThinkers ever since, building off concepts and templates we initially created. We always wanted to create a short video that would be shown at the conference that would bring the theme to life in a clearer way, but both the logistics and technology at the time put that beyond our reach.
6. What has been your favourite DesignThinkers branding, besides your own, and why?
This is a really tough question as there have been so many really interesting concepts that have really captured what DesignThinkers is all about. But I would have to say that both “Layers” by Overdrive Design and “Speak the Truth” by Zulu Alpha Kilo express the value you get from participating at the conference.