DesignThinkers is a Feast for the Eyes
August 22, 2017
When the RGD’s DesignThinkers conference headed west for the first time earlier this year, Vancouver stalwart Rethink made sure the event was the most eye-catching one in town.
The agency worked with the RGD on an event theme and visual concept that would look just as fresh at the annual DesignThinkers Toronto conference (November 7 and 8, 2017) as it did on May 30 and 31 in Vancouver. The team came up with “Perspectives,” which nods not only to the varied speakers in the conference lineup, but to design itself.
As a brand-new event, the West Coast version had some additional requirements. “In the past, the RGD has promoted the conference mostly through posters mailed to members and previous attendees,” says Hans Thiessen, creative director at Rethink. “But there’s not many members here, so [the campaign] needed to be more social.”
The key visual element in “Perspectives” is an eye shape, for which Thiessen and three other designers created 2,000 unique designs (one for each attendee). Initial estimates put the attendance number at 500, which steadily increased in the lead-up to the event. “Nobody batted an eye when we had to create 200, 500, 1,000 more designs. We just kept going,” says Thiessen. “We looked at things we are influenced by and things we do. Each of us tried to explore different perspectives, and we didn’t do a lot of culling down. It could be as crazy as it needed to be as long as when it was put in that container, it felt like an eye.”
He notes that individually, some of the designs may be unremarkable, but the entire system has major impact. “In design, there are so many different styles, and when you put them all together, they elevate each other.”
“The ‘magic eye’ is something that literally forces you to change your perspective to see it. And it led us to the edge tipping to change perspectives,” says Thiessen.
Rethink also created the usual posters, t-shirts, digital videos and event collateral, but the cornerstone of their social-friendly approach was the in-house development of a complementary app. Users were able to draw their own designs onto an eye, then save and upload their creations to share.
Ahead of the upcoming Toronto event (which will be branded red instead of blue), Rethink is continuing to evolve the app so users can post their creations directly to social media without an extra saving step. “The venue for the Toronto conference is bigger and there are quite a few more digital screens to play around with,” hints Thiessen. “We’re playing with some out-of-the-box ideas.”
Creative Directors: Ian Grais, Chris Staples, Hans Thiessen
Art Directors: Alex Bakker, Jake Lim, Pamela Rounis, Hans Thiessen
Designers: Alex Bakker, Jake Lim, Pamela Rounis, Hans Thiessen
Illustrators: Alex Bakker, Carmela Cammisuli, Dustin Gamble, Jake Lim, Pamela Rounis, Hans Thiessen
Writer: John Eresman
Print Producers: Kerry Bhangu, Sharon Craig, Sarah Lee
Production Artists: Jonathon Cesar, Jan Day, Tom Pettapiece
Printers: MET Fine Printers, Total Graphics
Digital Producer: Todd Harrison
Digital Designers: Dustin Gamble, Alex Fleming
Digital Developers: Ken Malley, Hanna Chen
Website Development: The Pixel Shop
Broadcast Producers: Sarah Vingoe, Carla Olson
Editor: Megan O’Connor, Leigh O’Neill
Animation House: Titmouse
Audio House: Wave
Director of Amplification: Leah Gregg
Project Managers: Jeremy Harrison, Andrea Ludwick, Janice Quan