Looking Back: DesignThinkers 2011 Branding with Parcel
We caught up with Richard Nalli-Petta to reflect back on Parcel’s branding for the 2011 DesignThinkers Conference.
What did taking on the DesignThinkers conference branding mean to you and your team at the time?
It was a rare and exciting opportunity to design for the local design community, and it meant that everyone on the team would get to dive into the action. We saw it as a chance to lead a conversation, almost like being invited to moderate a panel or emcee an event--without the stage fright.
Explain your concept and how you and/or your team got there?
Our concept was inspired by the idea of memes. At the time "memeing" hadn't yet become a verb (it was only 2011), but we were interested in the idea that as individuals--and certainly as designers--we share in a kind of collective consciousness that allows us to resonate as a group with certain ideas that we then take away and express individually. So our expression of that was to invite eight other design studios to add onto a simple drawing we produced and then passed around. Each studio jumped off from designated connection points without being able to see the whole piece. The result was a free flowing thread of "design thinking" that filtered down through multiple hands, twisting and changing as it progressed. It was a great way to share the spotlight and to start an open conversation that actively engaged others. We think the next meme to hit the public after that had something to do with cats and toast, so if we started a trend we sincerely apologize.
What was your biggest challenge being the Design Partner for DesignThinkers?
Our biggest challenge was delivering something that we felt represented the design community and was inclusive of a range of voices. It would've been easy to take the job into our corner of the sandbox and do our own thing, but we recognized that the ask was bigger than that.
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?
It was great! We knew our audience would "get it," so we were excited both to present the idea and witness its reception.
What are you most proud of from your own experience? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Almost ten years later, there's no way you wouldn't do some of anything differently, but the concept was solid and we're most proud of the way we made it a project for everyone in the studio and for many others in the community.
What has been your favourite DesignThinkers branding, besides your own, and why?
The 2012 conference design by City of Mississauga that branded DesignThinkers as a secret society meeting. Designers do speak their own language and, in a way, probably fancy that they influence the public similar to how fabled "clandestine groups" are thought to. It was fun and didn't take itself too seriously. In a way it almost turned the whole show into a giant cosplay. I'd be shocked if they didn't try to sell RGD on handing out branded robes. Clients!


Stay tuned for more insights into DesignThinkers branding from the past 20 years.

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