DesignThinkers is Canada's largest annual graphic design conference, connecting designers from around the world. The Vancouver Conference takes place annually in the Spring, and is currently in its third year running. The more intimate of the two annual events, Vancouver has only one "stream", so attendees have the opportunity to see all the speakers rather than having to choose between multiple options. DesignThinkers speakers examine and discuss the trends, strategies and processes that are driving our industry. Attendees have the opportunity to explore the evolving role of design and how it is creating meaningful impacts for business, culture and social innovators. For insights into the variety of communications design disciplines, branding, design thinking, design management, and user experience, DesignThinkers is the must-attend event of the year for visual communicators.

Take a look at photos from last year's Conference

2018 DTVan – Day 1

Feedback from DesignThinkers 2018 VAN Attendees

Q: What was your favourite part of the Conference?
“It was great to be around and hear from other designers. As the only designer at my current work, I can feel removed from the design community at times. After being immersed in "my people" for a couple days I felt re-energized and inspired to come back to work and tackle all my projects."

“I loved the venue. It was so nice to be able to hear everyone speak and not have to rush to different rooms and have to pick from different talks. This way you could hear all the speakers and it was great knowing that everyone had seen the same speakers and you could then discuss the talks together."

"It was fantastically organized!!! The event itself was so well put together. I loved the lightning talks, too!"

“I loved the flow. Starting with a networking session was a great way for someone like me, attending the conference alone, to make friends for the day. Then I loved sitting back and taking in all these amazing speakers, one after the other. I found the talks so valuable, I didn't feel like I was craving any other 'workshop' or 'discussion' elements!"

“Every session was geared specifically for designers and the challenges we face."

“Loved the variety of speakers, how informative the talks were, the calibre of the lineup in terms of what is actually happening in the design world today - and it's always a joy to be in a room with fellow designers. Being able to interact with the speakers in the foyer and at the Delegate Party is always a delight."

“The chance to meet some of the speakers, make new connections and be challenged in my career as a designer."

What’s up with the Toonie?

Designers don’t always get a do-over. But you always have the chance to do better. When Canada’s two-dollar coin was introduced in 1996, a number of nicknames were suggested before the public settled on toonie, including bearie, bearly, doubloonie and moonie. MP Jack Iyerak Anawak suggested Nanuq in honour of Canada’s Inuit people. While this culturally meaningful idea was disregarded, the toonie does feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, despite the fact that a 2016 research poll found that more than half of Canadians reject the idea of a British Head of State. Somehow, you’ll still find yourself face to face with the Queen each time you pull out change to pay for your Tim Horton’s coffee.

Like the toonie, there are countless examples from the world of design where cultural, economic and political forces have affected creative work, for better and for worse. As designers, it’s up to us to acknowledge the influence of these factors and try to avoid the mistakes of our past. Over the next few months, we’ll reflect on the complex histories behind other Canadian designs leading up to the 20th year of the DesignThinkers Conference. This event has spanned massive changes in the communication design industry, exploring the innovations and disruptions that inform, inspire and influence the world of design today. Join us in Vancouver this May to continue the conversation.


About RGD

The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) is a non-profit, professional Association that represents over 4,100 design practitioners, including firm owners, freelancers, managers, educators and students. Through RGD, Canadian designers exchange ideas, educate and inspire, set professional standards and build a strong, supportive community dedicated to advocating for the value of design. This community of like-minded professionals has access to professional development, resources and a vibrant exchange of information. Learn more about the Association.

Masters (VAN)

If you are attending your third or more of our DT thinkfests in Vancouver, you will be recognized as a DesignThinkers Master, demonstrating your keen interest to connect with and grow alongside your ever-evolving design colleagues.

Thinking about becoming an RGD member? Now is your chance to join! Learn more.

  • Angela Bains

    Strategic Director TransformExp

  • Sandra Bobb

    Graphic Design & Production Supervisor Seabird Island Band

  • Carolina Becerra CGD

    Creative Director. Educator CDC

  • Melanie Carter

    Graphic Designer IBI Group

  • Ross Chandler

    Principal Ross Chandler Creative

  • Ashley Davis

    Print and Digital Marketing Specialist UVic Continuing Studies

  • Tom Duguid

    Creative Big Shot Tom Duguid Brand & Design

  • Wafé Gara

    Creative Lead BCIT Student Association

  • Kelly Hartman

    Designer, Creative Director Hartman Design Studio

  • Tim Hoffpauir

    Creative Director of Design Cossette

  • Karin Jager

    Associate Professor University of the Fraser Valley

  • Vida Jurcic

    Co-Creative Director Hangar 18 Design Continuum

  • Jackie Kelly

    Communication Designer & Creative Facilitator Awarewolf Creative

  • Chelsea McKenzie

    Senior Communications Designer & Workshop Leader Century Group

  • Parker McLean

    Principal + Founder Harc Creative

  • Wendy Millard RGD

    Creative Director Empire Life

  • Emrys Miller

    Director Rocketday Arts

  • Shenelle Pankratz RGD

    Graphic Designer Erwin Hymer Group NA

  • Hans Thiessen RGD

    Partner & Creative Director of Design Rethink

  • Stüssy Tschudin RGD

    Principal Forge Media + Design

  • Lisa Wadsworth

    Creative Director EKISTICS

  • Matt Warburton CGD, FGDC

    Design Manager UBC

  • Eliza Woo

    Lead Graphic Designer Anthem Properties

  • Tamiko Young

    Graphic Designer Destination Canada

ThinkTanks (VAN)

What is a ThinkTank? The following organizations have displayed a commitment to creativity, design thinking, and ultimately to their employees by sending three or more members of their team to Vancouver for DesignThinkers.

It is a great way to inspire and motivate your creative team. Register your team.

DesignThinkers Code of Conduct

Through RGD, Canadian designers exchange ideas, educate and inspire, set professional standards and build a strong, supportive community dedicated to advocating for the value of design.