Looking Back: DesignThinkers 2012 Branding with City of Mississauga
We caught up with Tina Mackenzie RGD to reflect back on City of Mississauga's branding for the 2012 DesignThinkers Conference.
What did taking on the DesignThinkers conference branding mean to you and your team at the time?
It was historic and daunting. We were the first In-house team to be asked not to mention that we worked within a Municipal Government. It was our opportunity to change some widely held perceptions about In-house talent. When the announcement was made that the City of Mississauga design team would be the 2012 DesignThinkers design partner eyebrows went up. We took the opportunity to showcase our work and dispel the myths.

Explain your concept and how you and/or your team got there?
Having an initial thought, reasoning with it and subsequently learning from that experience is at the heart of DesignThinkers. Designers have an acute awareness of even finer detail than others would have – it’s in our training and in our nature. To make the viewer aware of this process the The Sacred Order of Thought theme employs optical illusions, mysterious latin verbiage and bright contrasting colours to create the idea that DesignThinkers is a gathering for those that worship the process of thought itself.  The annual conference will be turned into a gathering of Thought Worshippers that go to the gathering in order to experience the holy Process of Thought with other like-minded individuals.

Impossible shapes and brain stimulating patterns create a mysterious visual language that leads the viewer to question their surroundings as well as become more conscious of the Process of Thought itself. Welcome to the gathering of The Sacred Order of Thought.

What was your biggest challenge being the Design Partner for DesignThinkers?
As in-house for government we didn’t have the option to work on the project during regular work hours. The team had to want to take it on because it meant doing the work after hours. The timelines were tight for producing all the different marketing pieces so meeting those deadlines in our hours after work was a labour of love.


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?
Kind of like standing naked in the middle of a crowd. I remember going to the print proofing for the DesignThinkers postcard and seeing the first optical illusion come out well and having a sigh of relief. I remember running into a designer I admire in a shop in the Junction. He approached me and mentioned he’d been at the printers and seen the first pieces come of the press. He was very complimentary. I grinned for the rest of the day.


Picture Courtesy: Spencer Xiong Photography  


What are you most proud of from your own experience? Is there anything you would have done differently?
The posters created for the show were a definite highlight for me. They worked better than expected as a wallpaper and seeing them attached to light poles up and down Spadina Ave was really fun. We did what we set out to do: we surprised people. In a good way!


What has been your favourite DesignThinkers branding, besides your own, and why?

AmoebaCorp’s shoes branding for the 2008 show was definitely a DesignThinkers branding highlight for me. It was irreverent and had lots of character. Each piece produced was thoughtful and the copy was fun and provocative.

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

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