20 November 2015

Design Thinkers 2015

by Simon Richards

Last week I attended The Design Thinkers conference in Toronto;  a unique conference bringing together designers, strategists and creative thinkers from across the globe. After spending a few days in the company of the RGD (Association of Registered Graphic Designers), I noticed a number of consistent themes emerging, notably the importance of:


– Creating the magic for our clients; as creative designers, we have an obligation to our clients to help them to see and realise the potential in ideas and what they can achieve – to take the every day and make it wonderful

– Embracing technology and using it to our advantage; by simplifying the working day and creating clarity in the way information is shared, providing inspiration to customers


– Being more in-sync with our clients ‘everyday’;  from coffee-break research and working with clients in their space, to commercially partnering with clients on flagship projects


– Revisiting what we do and why we do it; addressing the purpose of an agency, creating a defined company culture and a better work-life balance


– Being innovative and embracing new working methods; working quicker and wider, focusing on what is important on a project before developing the detail


– Adapting to the rise of the in-house design teams and helping them become the champions of design within their organisations


– Understanding the extent to which the design world is changing; we should not be afraid of crowdsourcing but of algorithms




The overriding impression is one of a conference that celebrates the future of the industry and not just design as a craft. These are important lessons, which I believe can be learnt by other conferences: to be more open to the commercial needs of the business and the needs of the clients, both today and with an eye on where the industry may be heading in the future.  All in all, a great few days (and nights) were had in Toronto – I was extremely impressed by the work of the RGD in Canada, the community they have created and the conference as a whole.