DesignThinkers – the ultimate ‘connection’ to inspiring ideas

We have so many ways to ‘keep in touch’ instantaneously today, thanks to the web, mobile phones, email, text messaging, intranets – the list just keeps growing. It’s all great, of course. But to me, nothing compares with hearing someone speak in person about timely topics, issues, trend and ideas, then having the luxury of a live discussion with others on what you’ve just witnessed.

That to me has been the essence of my experience in attending DesignThinkers conferences over the years. Each gathering represents a uniquely valuable opportunity both to connect with the design community and to hear the opinions and ideas of leading designers, design educators and business people working in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Despite new communications channels, technologies and connections emerging all around us – and perhaps because of that phenomenon – it’s too easy today to become insular in our work, narrowly focusing on our own immediate projects, clients, deadlines, issues and challenges.

We should never lose sight of the need to reach out and discover what others are doing, thinking and saying as they address similar issues and challenges that affect each of us daily. DesignThinkers in that sense is the ultimate way to connect and communicate, a hugely powerful forum to examine and explore – together and in person! – our endlessly changing realities.

Sustainability. Green practices. The economy. Trends in the business. Emerging technologies. Unique initiatives. Each year, there are new issues and topics for DesignThinkers to examine. And I have yet to discover a better place to find inspiring answers, solutions and ideas.

Consider the concept of DesignThinking itself. I believe we will all look back in a few years and realize that today we are in the infancy of DesignThinking – a concept that for most of us remains – dare I say it – somewhat confusing. Why the confusion?

Think about it. Academics are trying – struggling? – to apply a formula or matrix to the whole notion of ‘how a designer works.’ No easy task. At the same time, businesses are hearing more about DesignThinking as a valuable business-friendly concept that’s gaining momentum – and they want to learn more. Meanwhile, the design community, having gained the spotlight with this innovate concept, has yet to fully articulate or clearly define what it all means to the various players and potential participants.

So we are still figuring it all out. Yes, it’s a bit perplexing at the moment. But I’d say we are getting closer to a true definition of DesignThinking. Personally, I’m absolutely intrigued by our search for an answer. And with that in mind, I’m already look forward to what next year’s conference will have to offer.


BOB HAMBLY is Creative Director, Hambly and Woolley Inc., Toronto, and a Board member of RGD Ontario.

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About rgddesignthinkers

The Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario (RGD) is the professional body for graphic designers in Ontario. RGD grants graphic designers who qualify the right to use the designations Registered Graphic Designer and R.G.D., a quality signal of standards of professional practice. RGD has approximately 2800 members. Attracting over 1,000 participants and a full line-up of fascinating speakers, DesignThinkers is Canada’s largest, most important graphic design event. It’s an occasion to listen, learn and interact with peers from across the country.
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