DesignThinkers Conference

Celebrating its 20th year in 2019, DesignThinkers is a journey into the creative process and a celebration of strategic design thinking. 


Recordings of past DesignThinkers Conferences going back to 2011 are available to RGD Members in the members-only section of this website.


Find out about becoming a Member or subscribe to RGD's email newsletter to get bi-weekly access to select Featured Videos.

For more information on upcoming DesignThinkers Conferences, visit


  • DesignThinkers 2019 VAN

    May 28-29, 2019

    Vancouver Playhouse


    Design Partner: Concrete



    • Jessica Bellamy, GRIDS
    • Karin Fong, Imaginary Forces
    • Cheryl Heller, Designer, Author and Educator
    • Kit Hinrichs, Studio Hinrichs
    • Sarah Hyndman, Type Tasting
    • Austin Kleon, Writer, Artist, Speaker & NYT Bestselling Author
    • Leland Maschmeyer, Chobani
    • Hillel Cooperman and Jenny Lam, Oracle
    • Moira Cullen, Method
    • Mike Monteiro, Mule Design
    • Yah Leng Yu, Foreign Policy Design Group
    • James Victore, Author, Artist, Designer
  • DesignThinkers 2018 TO

    October 24-25, 2018

    Sony Centre, Toronto


    Design Partner: Zulu Alpha Kilo


    Speakers included:

    - Mauricio Alarcon

    - Kemp Attwood, AREA 17

    - Dominic Ayre RGD, Hambly & Woolley

    - Angela Bains, TransformExp

    - Jessica Bellamy, GRIDS

    - Michael Bierut, Pentagram

    - Ayse Birsel, Birsel + Seck

    - Clare Brown, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

    - Julian Brown RGD, ON THE CHASE! Design + Motion Studio

    - Robert Brunner, Ammunition

    - Anthony Burrill

    - Pearce Cacalda, Jackman Reinvents

    - Alex Center, Center

    - Ian Chalmers RGD, Pivot Design Group

    - Emily Cohen, Business Consultant

    - Martha Cotton, Fjord

    - Mohini Datta-Ray, North York Women’s Shelter

    - Michelle Dougherty, Imaginary Forces

    - Kat Downs Mulder, The Washington Post

    - John Furneaux RGD, Projektor Inc.

    - Alison Garnett RGD & Carolina Soderholm, Field Trip & Co.

    - Mitch Goldstein, Rochester Institute of Technology

    - Tosh Hall, Jones Knowles Ritchie

    - Dawn Hancock, Firebelly Design

    - Josh Higgins, Facebook

    - Jessica Hische

    - Grace Hwang, Carrot Inc

    - Wade Jeffree & Leta Sobierajski

    - Jean-Pierre Lacroix RGD, Shikatani Lacroix

    - Natalie Lam, Google

    - Michael Lejeune, LA Transit

    - Bruno Maag, Dalton Maag

    - Matthew May, Brightworks

    - Brenda Mills, Adobe Systems

    - Fidel Peña RGD, Underline Studio

    - Irene Pereyra & Anton Repponen, Anton & Irene

    - Erin Sarofsky, Sarofsky Inc.

    - Adrian Shaughnessy

    - Bonnie Siegler, Eight and a Half

    - Lisa Smith, Chobani

    - Matt Spangler, Compass

    - Laura Stein RGD, Sid Lee

    - Jay Wall RGD, RallyRally

    - Forest Young, Wolf Ollins

    - Zolty, BREAKFAST

  • DesignThinkers 2018 VAN

    May 29-30, 2018

    Vancouver Playhouse, Vancouver


    Design Partner: Zulu Alpha Kilo


    Speakers included:
    - Angela Bains, TransformExp
    - Angele Beausoleil, Rotman School of Management
    - Pia Betton, Edenspiekermann
    - Krys Blackwood, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
    - Aaron Draplin, Draplin Design Co.
    - Greg Durrell, Hulse & Durrell
    - Stephen Gates, InVision
    - Ian Grais RGD, Rethink
    - Bob Hambly RGD, Hambly + Woolley
    - Josh Higgins, Facebook
    - Brian Hill, Aritzia & Ryan Holmes, Hootsuite
    - Randy Hunt, Artsy
    - Grace Hwang, Carrot Inc.
    - Vida Jurcic, Hangar18
    - Michael Lejeune, LA Metro
    - Meg Lewis, Ghostly Feathers
    - Ellen Lupton
    - Gemma O'Brien
    - Sebastian Padilla, Anagrama
    - Judy Snaydon, Capilano University
    - Carson Ting, Chairman Ting
    - Samantha Warren, Adobe
    - Forrest Young, Wolff Olins

  • DesignThinkers 2017 TO

    November 7 - 8, 2017

    Sony Centre, Toronto



    Design Partner: Rethink



    - Kelli Anderson, Independent Arts & Crafts Professional

    - Nicholas Blechman, Art Director of The New Yorker

    - Jan Chipchase

    - Emily Cohen, Consultant to Creative Professionals

    - Scott Dadich, Godfrey Dadich Partners

    - Douglas Davis, The City College of New York

    - Chris Do, Blind, Inc.

    - Maria Doreuli & Ekaterina Kochkina, Contrast Foundry

    - Christian Ervin, Tellart

    - Pum Lefebure, Design Army

    - Jonathan Ford, Pearlfisher

    - Stephen Gates, Citibank

    - Ralph Gilles, Fiat-Chrysler

    - Timothy Goodman

    - Jeff Greenspan, SideProject

    - Val Head, Adobe

    - Nigel Holmes, nigel holmes explanation graphics

    - Blake Howard, Matchstic

    - Robin Honey RGD

    - Sarah Hyndman, Typetasting

    - Michael Johnson, Johnson Banks

    - Jessie Kawata

    - Reesa Merchant

    - Emily Oberman, Pentagram

    - Mike Rigby, R/GA

    - Dewey Reid, CNN

    - Nicolas Roope, Poke

    - Paul Sahre, Office of Paul Sahre

    - Anne Swan, Siegel + Gale

    - Robert Smith RGD, Greenmelon

    - Astrid Stavro, Atlas

    - Mimi Valdés

    - Robert Vargas, Art Director at Bloomberg Businessweek

    - Susan Weinschenk, The Team W

  • DesignThinkers 2017 VAN

    May 30 - 31, 2017

    Vancouver Playhouse Theatre



    Design Partner: Rethink



    • Casey Caplowe, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of GOOD
    • Scott Dadich, Co-CEO, Founder of Godfrey Dadich Partners and Creator and Executive Producer of Abstract: The Art of Design
    • Ralph V. Gilles, Head of Design, FCA - Global 
    • Maria Giudice, VP, Experience Design at Autodesk
    • Timothy Goodman, Designer, Illustrator & Art Director
    • Tinker Hatfield, Vice President, Design & Special Projects, Nike, Inc.
    • Chip Kidd, Award-Winning Graphic Designer and Writer
    • Emily Lessard, Chief Creative Officer of Bellweather
    • Min Lew, Partner, Creative Director and Managing Director at Base
    • Craig Mod, Writer and Photographer
    • Alex Schleifer, VP of Design at Airbnb
    • Dana Tanamachi, Creative Director at Tanamachi Studio & Tanamachi Goods
    • Cap Watkins, VP of Design at Buzzfeed
    • Ellen Wong and Mark Beechy, Executive Creative Directors at RED Interactive



  • DesignThinkers 2016

    November 3-4, 2016

    Sony Centre, Toronto


    Design Partner: Deloitte




    Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture & Design / Director of Research & Development The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

    Jake Barton, Principal and Founder, Local Projects

    David Carson, Designer

    Leland Maschmeyer, Chief Creative Officer, Chobani


    Breakout Sessions: 

    Glenn John Arnowitz, Director of Creative Services, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare

    Ashleigh Axios, Creative Director and Digital Strategist, White House Office of Digital Strategy

    Connie Birdsall, Global Creative Director, Lippincott

    Stefan G. Bucher, Author / Designer

    Bob Calvano, VP of Design and UX, A+E Networks

    Emily Cohen, Consultant

    Cory Doctorow, Co-editor, Boing Boing

    Rob Duncan, Owner and Creative Director, Mucho

    Tobias Frere-Jones, Type Designer

    Bob Hambly RGD, Hambly & Woolley

    Kenya Hara, Graphic Designer / Curator

    Steven Heller, Author

    Michael Hendrix, Partner, IDEO

    Tim Irvine, Regional Design Director for North America, Fjord

    Erik Kessels, Co-founder, KesselsKramer

    Emily Lessard, Chief Creative Officer, Bellweather

    Meg Lewis, Founder, Ghostly Ferns

    Dan Makoski, VP of Design, Walmart

    Rod McDonald RGD, Type Designer

    Lotta Nieminen, Designer / Illustrator

    Eddie Opara, Partner, Pentagram

    Fredrik Ost & Erik Kockum, Creative Directors, Snask

    Steve Powers, Author and Artist

    Barry Quinn RGD, Chief Creative Officer, Juniper Park TBWA

    Anton Repponen & Irene Pereyra, Anton & Irene

    Erin Sarofsky, Founder & Executive Creative Director, Sarofsky Corp.

    Albert Shum, CVP of Design & Content Publishing, Microsoft

    Loni Stark, Senior Director of Strategy & Product Marketing, Adobe

    Lee Steffin, Designer / Photographer

    Matt Willey, Art Director, The New York Times Magazine



    Software: Adobe

    Career Development: Creative Niche

    Celebration: Fjord

    Digital: The Pixel Shop

    Airline: Porter

    Signage: Resource Integrated

    Paper: Rolland Enterprises Inc.

    Print: Somerset Graphics



  • DesignThinkers 2015

    November 11-12, 2015

    Sony Centre, Toronto


    Design Partner: Overdrive




    Frank Chimero, Designer

    Josh Clark, Founder, Big Medium

    Austin Kleon, Artist

    Karim Rashid, Designer

    James Victore, Graphic Artist


    Breakout Sessions: 

    Justin Ahrens, Rule29

    Keira Alexandra, Partner, Work Order

    Adam Antoszek-Rallo RGD, Founder, Catalyst Workshop

    Annie Atkins, Designer

    Emilie Baltz, Experiential Artist

    Christina Beard, Senior Product Designer, Collective Health

    Coralie Bickford Smith, Graphic Designer for Penguin Books UK

    Art Chantry, Designer

    Andy Chen, Partner, Isometric Studio

    Emily Cohen, In-House Consultant

    Chris Dixon, Design Director, Vanity Fair

    John Furneaux RGD, Founder, Projektor

    Paddy Harrington RGD, Founder, Frontier

    Hjalti Karlsson, Founder, karlssonwilker inc.

    Diti Katona RGD, Chief Creative Officer at Concrete Design Communications

    Sanjay Khanna, Futurist-in-Residence, Toronto Symphony Orchestra

    Michael Lejeune, Creative Director, LA Metro

    Sascha Lewis, CEO and Co-founder, Flavorpill Media

    Manuel Lima, Information Designer

    Andy Mangold, Co-founder, Friends of the Web

    Josh McInerney RGD, Partner, Modu Design

    Felipe Memoria, Founding Partner, Work & Co

    Jamie Myrold, Senior Director of Experience Design, Adobe

    Sebastian Padilla, Co-founder, Anagrama

    Jean Francois Porchez, Founder, Typofonderie

    Christopher Simmons, Principal and Creative Director, MINE 

    Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art 

    Roopa Unnikrishnan, Center10 Consulting LLP

    Cap Watkins, VP of Design, BuzzFeed



  • DesignThinkers 2014

    November 5-7, 2014

    Sony Centre, Toronto


    Design Partner: TAXI




    Charles Adler, Co-founder, Kickstarter 

    Andrew Deitchman, Co-founder and CEO, Mother New York

    Debbie Millman, President, Design Division, Sterling Brands

    Paula Scher, Partner, Pentagram

    Erik Spiekermann, Creative Director, Edenspiekermann

    Richard Turley, Senior VP of Visual Storytelling and Deputy Editorial Director, MTV

    Steve Vranakis, Executive Creative Director, Creative Lab, Google

    Jessica Walsh, Partner, Sagmeister & Walsh

    Todd Waterbury, Executive Creative Director and Senior VP, Marketing, Target


    Breakout Sessions: 

    Philippe Apeloig

    Irma Boom, Founder, Irma Boom Office

    Frederic Bonn, Executive Creative Director, JWT 

    Aaron Draplin, Founder, Draplin Design Co.

    Joseph Duffy, Co-founder and Design Director, Duffy & Partners 

    Andy Epstein, Invangelist, The BOSS Group

    Wesley Grubbs, Founder, Pitch Interactive

    Sibylle Hagmann, Founder, Kontour 

    Henry Hobson, Dounder, Bootmaker Films 

    Dave Holston, Author,The Strategic Designer

    Mary Lewis, Creative Director and Partner, Lewis Moberly

    Ellen Lupton, Curator, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum

    David Macy, Innovation Director, Experience Design, Adobe

    Javier Mariscal, Founder, Estudio Mariscal

    Karen McGrane, Managing Partner, Bond Art + Science

    Marty Neumeier, Director of Transformation, Liquid Agency

    Willy Wong, Lead, Brand Stewardship, NYC & Company

    Andrew Zolty, Co-founder and Creative Director, BREAKFAST

  • DesignThinkers 2013

    November 6-7, 2013

    Metro Toronto Convention Centre


    Design Partner: orangetango




    Christopher Chapman, Global Creativity & Innovation Director, The Walt Disney Company

    Robert Fabricant, VP Creative, Frog Design

    Nicholas Felton, Co-Founder, Daytum

    Karin Fong, Co-Founder & Creative Director at Imaginary Forces 

    Michael Gough, VP of Experience Design, Adobe  

    Dmitri Siegel, VP of Global E-Commerce & Executive Creative Director, Patagonia 

    Alex Trochut, Illustrator and Typographer

    Morag Myerscough, Founder, Studio Myerscough


    Breakout Sessions

    David Berman RGD, Author and Consultant 

    Pierre Bernard, President and Partner, orangetango

    Matteo Bologna, Founding Partner & Principal, Mucca Design

    Emily Cohen, Creative Consultant

    Ricardo Crespo, Chief Creative Officer, Thi3teen

    Darhil Crooks, Creative Director, The Atlantic

    Chloe Gottlieb, Senior VP and Executive Creative Director, R/GA

    James Griffin, Head of Mobile Design, Thomson Reuters

    Cyrus Highsmith, Senior Designer, Font Bureau

    John Kieselhorst, Founding Partner & Chief Design Officer, Made Movement 

    Lara McCormick, Author, Playing With Type 

    Justin McGhie, President, Strategy Group at Sterling Brands 

    Peter Mendelsund, Associate Art Director, Alfred A. Knopf Books

    Bruce Nussbaum, Professor of Innovation & Design, Parsons New School of Design

    Elizabeth Pastor, Co-Founder, Humantific 

    Shawn Petersen, Creative Director, Instrument

    Jenn & Ken Visocky O'Grady, Co-Founders, Enspace Design 



    Airline: Porter

    Software: Adobe

    Bindery: Anstey

    Paper: Cascades

    Media: Designedge Canada

    Web & Mobile Development: The Pixel Shop

    Printing: Somerset

    Envelopes: Supremex

    Signage: Moveable

  • DesignThinkers 2012

    November 8-9, 2012

    Metro Toronto Convention Centre


    Design Partner: City of Mississauga In-House Team



    • Stefan Sagmeister
    • Pum Lefebure
    • Bryony Gomez-Palacio
    • Julia Hoffmann
    • Harry Pearce
    • Chris Hacker
    • Susan Bradley
  • DesignThinkers 2011

    November 2-3, 2011

    Metro Toronto Convention Centre


    Design Partner: Parcel Design



    • Deborah Adler
    • David C. Baker
    • Ivan Chermayeff + Tom Geismar + Sagi Haviv
    • Brian Collins + Leland Maschmeyer
    • Steve Edge
    • Rob Giampietro
    • Stanley Hainsworth
    • Allan Haley
    • Jessica Hische
    • Rei Inamoto
    • Chip Kidd
    • George Lois
    • Grace Lee & Robert Priest
    • Bobby Martin Jr. & Jennifer Kinon
    • Craig Mod
    • Christoph Niemann
    • Eddie Opara
    • William Poundstone
    • Eric Ryan
    • Richard Morrison
    • Christian Schwartz
    • Aaris Sherin
    • Todd Simmons
    • Robert Wong
  • DesignThinkers 2010

    November 11-12, 2010

    Metro Toronto Convention Centre


    Design Partner: Juniper Park



    • Marian Bantjes
    • Jonathan Barnbrook
    • John Bielenberg
    • Andrew Blauvelt
    • Chris Chapman
    • Jim Coudal
    • Scott Dadich
    • Tony Davidson
    • Allan Haley
    • Jeni Herberger
    • Lee Jacobson
    • Paul Lavoie
    • Roger Martin
    • Emily Oberman + Bonnie Siegler
    • Dmitri Siegel
    • Scott Thomas
    • David Turner
    • Khoi Vinh
    • Jenn + Ken Visocky O'Grady
    • Armin Vit
    • Helen Walters
    • Alina Wheeler
  • DesignThinkers 2009

    November 3-4, 2009

    Metro Toronto Convention Centre


    Design Partner: Hambly & Woolley



    • Matthew Carter
    • Kyle Cooper
    • Steven Heller
    • Gael Towey
    • Marty Neumeier
    • Valerie Casey
    • Ben Blumenfeld
    • Terry O'Reilly
    • Steven Heller
    • Vanessa Eckstein RGD
  • DesignThinkers 2008

    October 27-30, 2008

    Metro Toronto Convention Centre


    Design Partner: Amoebacorp



    • Louise Fili
    • Maira Kalman
    • Daniel Libeskind
    • Rick Poynor
    • Luke Hayman
    • Scott Stowell
    • Veronique Vienne
    • Masamichi Udagawa
    • Nancy Duarte
    • Ji Lee
    • Tucker Viemeister
  • DesignThinkers 2007

    October 17-19, 2007

    Metro Toronto Convention Centre


    Design Partner: q30 design


    Keynote Speakers

    Hillman Curtis, Designer + Filmmaker

    Marc Gobe, President, CEO and Executive Director for Desgrippes Gobe

    Greg Hoffman, VP of Global Brand Design at NIKE

    Grant McCracken, Author of Culture and Consumption

    Abbott Miller, Partner at Pentagram

    Karim Rashid, author of Design Your Self: Rethinking the Way You Live, Love, Work and Play

    Stefan Sagmeister, Founder of Sagmeister

    Patrick Whitney, Director of the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology


    Concurrent Session Speakers

    Tom Brown

    Jorge Calleja

    Colin Drummond

    Tony Fish, author of Mobile Web 2.0

    Louis Gagnon, Founder of Paprika

    Grant Gordon, Creative Director of Key Gordon Communications

    Garrick Hamm, Creative Partner of Williams Murray Hamm

    Dale Hart, Partner & Creative Director at Methodologie

    John Hlinko

    Janine James, Creative Director at The Moderns

    Zoa Martinez

    Chaz Maviyane-Davies

    Debbie Millman, Founder of Design Matters

    Andrea Siodmok

    James Victore

    Jenn + Ken Visocky O'Grady

    Don Watt RGD

    Alexander W. White, Author of Advertising Design and Typography


  • DesignThinkers 2006

    October 31 - November 3, 2006

    Varsity Cinemas


    Design Partner: karacters



    • Sean Adams & Noreen Morioka
    • Neville Brody
    • Bill Cahan
    • Nadine Chahine
    • Brian Collins
    • Alan Dye
    • Ian Grais
    • Adam Greenfield
    • Sam Harrison
    • Kit Hinrichs
    • Jane Hope
    • Erik Kessels
    • Eero Miettinen
    • Peter Phillips
    • Rich Roat
    • Paul Rowan
    • Dan Saffer
    • Ellen Shapiro
    • Jakob Trollback
    • Jan White
    • Margaret Youngblood
  • DesignThinkers 2005

    October 27-29, 2005

    Varsity Cinemas


    Design Partner: Mindshape



    • Gail Anderson
    • David Baker
    • Joe Duffy
    • Peter Girardi
    • Minda Gralnek
    • Chris Hacker
    • Dimitri Jeurissen
    • Chip Kidd
    • Anita Kunz
    • Paul Matthaeus
    • Bruce Mau
    • Dave Norton
    • Harry Rich
    • Geordie Stephens
    • Lisa Strausfeld
    • Massimo Vignelli
    • Ken Wong
  • DesignThinkers 2004

    October 21-23

    The Design Exchange


    Design Partner: Maximum 60



    • Edward Burtynsky
    • Kyle Cooper
    • Jessica Helfand
    • Robert Bringhurst
    • Luba Lukova
  • DesignThinkers 2003

    October 2-3, 2003

    The Design Exchange


    Design Partner: Pylon Design



    • Bill Buxton
    • Dr. John Kao
    • Prof. Ian Noble
    • Paula Scher
    • Simon Waterfall
  • DesignThinkers 2002

    October 25-26, 2002

    St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts


    Design Partner: Blok Design



    • Dana Arnett
    • Gerry Cupchik
    • Hillman Curtis
    • John Furneaux RGD
    • Claire Hassid
    • Michael Johnson
    • Jean-Pierre Lacroix RGD
    • Sabaa Quao
    • Lee Shupp
    • Barb Woolley RGD + Bob Hambly RGD
  • DesignThinkers 2001

    October 19

    Science Centre



    • Pam Scott
    • Dan Boyarski
  • DesignThinkers 2000

    October 13, 2000

    Hart House



    • Rolf Jensen
    • Peter Dixon