When word broke that some of the design world’s most prolific figures would be speaking at the first installment of the DesignThinkers Conference in Vancouver, our design team was quick to secure tickets for the event. Speakers such as Emily Oberman (Pentagram), Tinker Hatfield (Nike), Chip Kidd (book design), and last minute addition David Carson (“Father of Grunge” design) made the decision a no-brainer.
Over two days, 600+ attendees were treated to a well-organized and inspiring conference with clever branding by Rethink and an impressive roster of speakers curated by the RGD.
Some of the ED designers with Timothy Goodman
I was only able to attend day two, but still experienced plenty of highlights from nine separate presentations. Emily Oberman’s journey—from student, to rising star at M&Co, to boutique firm principal, to Pentagram partner— was particularly inspiring. Her arc of experience included everything from decades of SNL titles, The Tonight Show, DC Comics, and finally to her most notorious client, Snoop Dogg and his cannabis products brand, Leafs by Snoop.
Chip Kidd, author and long-time book jacket designer for Alfred A. Knopf, took us behind the scenes for a compelling and often hilarious look at the ping-pong match that the design process often resembles. More interesting than his myriad of successes were his failures and the scrapped ideas and client interactions that led to them. His story of getting fired by one client was both funny and insightful.
"Chip Kidd is the Meryl Streep of book design"
Tinker Hatfield, sneaker design icon and star of Abstract: The Art of Design, didn’t reveal much more than what is already covered in Netflix’s documentary series. However, his most memorable anecdote described his ultimate leverage tactic. Whenever his more divisive Air Jordan designs came into question he had something in his back pocket—literally. It was a piece of paper with Michael Jordan’s phone number, which he invited Nike executives to call if they felt compelled to confirm Mr. Jordan’s support for his latest designs. None took him up on the offer and so Tinker continued to use this back pocket tactic over the years.
Fireside chat with Scott Dadich, creator of "Abstract: The Art of Design", and iconic Nike designer, Tinker Hatfield.
From casual conversations with David Carson and Timothy Goodman at the lively delegate party, to the speed mentoring sessions, the Engine Digital Design Team found countless sources of inspiration during the event. We came back from DesignThinkers refreshed and motivated with many exciting ideas, mantras, and takeaways to ponder. To sum it up, the team put together a series of memorable quotes from the conference in a format inspired by Base Design's "5 Minute Posters" which Min Lew presented during her talk.
Our favourite quotes from the event.
We also started a repository for our takeaways from this event and future ones that you can check out here. Needless to say we are looking forward to DesignThinkers VAN 2018.