10 Truths We Uncovered at DesignThinkers Toronto 2018

November 7, 2018

10 Truths We Uncovered at DesignThinkers Toronto 2018

Under the theme of ‘Speak the Truth,' 2,000 designers gathered in Toronto on October 24 and 25 for the DesignThinkers 2018 Conference to discuss everything from the lack of colour in our wardrobes to the lack of diversity and why we need more people with disabilities, different cultural and economic backgrounds and gender identities in the design industry. No stone was left unturned as conversations were had about failing, managing clients and knowing when to reconsider a concept that just isn’t working.





Here are 10 things we learned at DesignThinkers 2018 TO:


  1. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer/user.

          "The first step in design thinking is to empathize." Martha Cotton


  1. Be prepared for rejection.

          "Work really hard. Don't get discouraged. You will be rejected more often than you'll be accepted." Tosh Hall


  1. Give your clients tools instead of rules.

          “Brands are living organisms. Clients will want to evolve and change what they're given, so we need to give             them tools instead of rules.” Dawn Hancock


  1. Conflict can lead to creativity.

          “The best collaborations have some element of friction.” Adrian Shaughnessy


  1. Research isn't boring.

          “I like doing research. I don’t think of it as homework, but rather as inspiration.” Michael Bierut


 Michael Bierut

  1. Question everything.

          “Question the brands you choose to work with, your place in the world, why you choose the work you do.                 Question everything!” Anthony Burrill


  1. Success doesn’t actually exist.

          “At each level of my career, I thought I was going to open a door to success. But once you open that door,              you just walk into another room, with another door.” Alex Center


  1. Accessibility, inclusivity and diversity go hand in hand.

          “If we make our industry accessible, it will be inclusive. If we make it inclusive, it will be diverse.” Angela                   Bains

  1. Design for social good.

          "Don’t think of design as ‘empowering’ - everyone already has power. As a designer, you’re not 

           empowering people, you’re emboldening them.” - Jessica Bellamy


 Jessica Bellamy

  1. Manage clients.

          “Managing clients is like managing dogs and kids. They need structure, they need guidance.” - Emily Cohen



In 2019, DesignThinkers will be held in Vancouver on May 28-29 and in Toronto on October 24-25. Details will be available at designthinkers.com in December.


The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) promotes professional standards in the graphic design industry and authors a quarterly column on the Applied Arts website.


Photography by Connie Tsang.