When we were approached to design the branding for the 2008 DesignThinkers conference we were initially just flattered. Then it sunk in that this would be no easy task in the sense that there were so many possible creative pathways that we wanted to explore. On top of that was the understanding that we’d be creating work for an audience of our peers, an audience that’s notoriously tough to please. Ultimately we decided to create a platform that felt right in our guts.
Explain your concept and how you and/or your team got there?
We basically broke it down into the simple idea that DesignThinkers is a coming-together of creative types from all walks of life. We all walk in shoes (or boots) and express who we are through those footwear design choices. We decided to reflect upon the diversity of the audience, their opinions, backgrounds, geographies, etc. by depicting the diversity of their footwear. Sort of a walk in someone else’s shoes. It was really fun to put out a call to all of the speakers to submit the shoes that were most reflective of who they are and see the results coming in. Then we created drawings of them all. We also made a short film depicting designers from our own network of people holding up their shoe choices too. Great fun.
What was your biggest challenge being the Design Partner for DesignThinkers?
The biggest challenge was really having to make the call in terms of where we’d go creatively with the design, it was a conceptual editing challenge. Creating work about design for designers can open up so many possibilities. We did a pretty good job of not trying to worry about how everything would be received by cynics. That could become crippling. I think it shows in the work that we were okay with taking some chances.
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?
Working with the team at RGD was a really fun, fluid, collaborative process. No stress at all, it was a project where it felt like everyone was excited and happy to be involved.
Sitting in the auditorium and seeing the work projected for the first time was a little weird. Its like that sometimes uncomfortable feeling of seeing a video of yourself, but with the added notion that hundreds of people in the room have an opinion on your face and they might be whispering about it around you. We didn’t really get a sense of anyone’s reaction, so we were kind of left wondering what everyone was thinking.
That's ok though.
What are you most proud of from your own experience? Is there anything you would have done differently?
I’m proud of the fact that we were able to confidently run with an idea that felt right to us, but also made us a little uncomfortable because we knew we were taking some chances. That’s the space where we’re happiest. Some of the work was really intense looking - jarring colour and shapes, strange compositions, etc. I don’t think we would have done anything differently. There were some other ideas that I remember having a lot of love for, but I’m happy with where it went.
What has been your favourite DesignThinkers branding, besides your own, and why?
Tough question. There are a few that I have enjoyed. I’m gonna go with the work by q30 in 2007. I love the colours, textures, type used throughout the system. I appreciate the subtlety of the idea - it’s not trying to be too clever, too "campaign-y". It’s beautiful and bold, but also shows restraint. It’s not easy to approach a project like this without trying to demonstrate everything that you can do.