NEWSLooking Back: DesignThinkers 2002 Branding by Blok Design

A reflection by Vanessa Eckstein RGD, Founder & Creative Director at Blok Design

1. What did taking on the DesignThinkers conference branding mean to you and your team at the time?

It was an incredible experience to embark on a personal journey with Hilary to launch the very first conference – conceptually, logistically and from a design perspective.

Then the vision of an international design conference in Canada seemed so far yet so tangible. I am in awe of Hilary’s relentless spirit, persisting excellence, professionalism and her amazing team that make DesignThinkers a reality even greater than the initial idea!

2. Explain your concept and how you and/or your team got there?

It was so long ago … but at that time, without internet (yes that was the context), interconnectedness and relevance held a very different place in society. The ambition of hosting the conference in Canada was, in its inception, a way both to build a community and to foster thought, to enrich and inspire each other.

We played with the concepts of the lines of the cable cars as ways to locate place and expand the idea of togetherness and connectivity.

3. What was your biggest challenge being the Design Partner for DesignThinkers?

We were so young that we could only see opportunities, not challenges. The fact that we had no money whatsoever was a problem so we definitely took initiative, bringing the government in to help with funding and building a relationship to last a lifetime.

4. What are you most proud of from your own experience? Is there anything you would have done differently?

I would do absolutely everything differently now. Twenty years seems enough time to grow and shift (hopefully!), but I admit I am one of those who never lingers in the space of what “could” but rather what “can”. If anything, the older projects bring the nostalgia of a different city, a different community and a different time. In the midst of all of that change, we held onto RGD as an organization and a value system that kept growing with us as we evolved.

6. What has been your favourite DesignThinkers branding, besides your own, and why?

I truly loved the last RGD DesignThinkers system, “Speak the Truth” because it played not only with our typographical sensibilities but was so powerfully reflective (with great humour) of the many subtleties, nuances and ways of seeing the world that is at the core of who we are as designers. Each piece added to the system and brought a complicit smile to us all. And yes, it celebrated our essence in black and white, and most probably it took the Zulu Alpha Kilo a long time to find the perfect tone.