• News
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver

Whitman Emorson signs on as Design Partner for 2024

Joining the roster of esteemed firms who have developed branding for the DesignThinkers conferences, Whitman Emorson shares their design process, challenges, inspiration and more for the 2024 branding.

In its 25th year, the 2024 Conferences take place in-person with an option for online streaming in Vancouver on May 28-29 (registration opens Dec 2023) and in Toronto on Nov 7-8 (registration opens May 2024).

Why did you and your team want to take on the 2024 DesignThinkers branding as a project?
We took on the 2024 DesignThinkers branding project because of its significant impact on both the Canadian design community and our personal growth as individuals over the years. We are so lucky to have access to this kind of event so close to home and seeing all the studios who have contributed in the past is inspiring. Creating the conference identity also allows folks to get to know us at Whitman Emorson, our exceptionally talented team, our design philosophy and, of course, engage with the identity we’ve created! Plus, what a cool brief. It’s been freeing to step out of the parameters of our day-to-day and shake up our process to establish the visual identity for 2024.

What has been the most challenging aspect of coming up with the design/concept?
The most challenging part of this project/process has also been the most exciting! It’s a fairly open brief with fewer parameters than we’re used to (in this industry). Instinctually, as designers, we often thrive with structure, guardrails and restrictions. “Freedom within a framework” allows for play while being tethered — to explore, but not too far, to play, but within the sandbox. With the brief for 2024 DesignThinkers, we were challenged by the freedom of possibility and the endless ideas that come with it. Allowing ourselves to lean into a feeling of “anything is possible” was equally challenging as it was exciting.

We were also challenged knowing this visual identity would be viewed by our peers, both locally and internationally. Its reach and scale inspired us to create something that would resonate with the design community and the broader creative community, leading us to question: What is universally true? What will inspire and excite? What will be differentiated and how can we push our ideas/thinking/execution, all while having fun?

What is the source of inspiration for the concept? What research did you undertake?
Our source of inspiration for the concept stemmed from something that felt relevant to the design industry at large — the notion that embarking on any creative project can be initially daunting and overwhelming, often with uncertainty about where to begin, but ultimately, it is a fruitful and fulfilling journey.

Drawing from a range of influences, including surrealism, collages, graphic design tools and devices such as optical illusions, animation and textured layers, we were inspired by being immersed in the creative process ourselves. Our approach involved extensive visual research, employing tools like brainstorms, mind maps and mood boards. Ultimately, we aimed for the concept to capture and celebrate the dreamlike, unpredictable nature of the creative process, inviting attendees to enter into a world of endless discovery.

What has been your team’s design process to tackle this project?
We used this brief as an opportunity to shake things up and explore a new approach — nothing revolutionary but definitely different from our day-to-day. We briefed everyone on our team, including accounts, strategy and interns and conducted a studio-wide brainstorm. The session was inclusive and varied, yielding a wide range of themes and ideas! Designers were then paired up in teams, where each was responsible for coming up with creative directions and visual executions centred on a core idea or theme. We did quite a bit of research and narrowed in on three directions, two of which were shared with the RGD Design Committee. We were closely involved in the decision-making process and ultimately decided on, in our very humble opinion, an identity that we believe (and hope!) will resonate with attendees and speakers alike.

To learn more about sponsoring DesignThinkers, email Michelle Pereira Hampton, RGD’s Director of Communications & Development, at [email protected].

If you would like to submit a proposal to speak at the event, apply here.

General conference inquiries can be sent to Abdul Omar, RGD’s Programs Manager, at [email protected].

  • News
  • Toronto

Over 2300 creatives came together in Toronto

While Paula Scher, at 75, declared that she is not done yet, Chris Do provided practical tools to master your next sales pitch — on November 2–3 the creative industry came together for our DesignThinkers Conference to celebrate everything design.

Hugs were exchanged, ideas shared and connections made — in what was our highest attendance ever; the energy was electrifying.

With an option to choose from three streams of talks, attendees also had opportunities to join studio tours and hand-on workshops, engage in conversations with peers on pertinent topics at the roundtable discussions, participate in speed networking and much more.

The conference also had the option for live streaming for those who preferred to attend from their home or office. All attendees have access to presentation recordings until the end of January, after which time they will be made available to RGD Members. You can still register to get access to the recordings on Pheedloop.

Pre-conference programming featured Accessibility Workshops by Meggan Van Harten RGD and Davide Dorigo Provisional RGD from Design de Plume, guided tours to leading creative studios in Toronto and a ceremony celebrating of the winners of the 2023 Branding Awards.

Day 1 of the Conference began with keynotes by Chris Do and Forest Young and featured talks by speakers who included Emmi Salonen, Farai Madzima, Noel Cottrell, Rejane Dal Bello, Renato Fernandez, Dalit Shalom, Paul Trani, concluding with delegates’ favourite talk by Paula Scher. Day 1 closed with a Party at Bier Markt, where delegates and speakers connected over delicious hors d’oeuvres, drinks and conversations.

Day 2 was packed with as much inspiration as the first with keynotes by Tina Roth Eisenberg and Eleni Beveratou and talks by Lauren Scully & Brian Studak, Min Lew, Catalina Estrada, Zipeng Zhu, Jay Demetillo, Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe, Krys Blackwood, Hajj Flemings, ending the day with a Keynote by Stefan Sagmeister. The day also featured a panel discussion on collaborative design workflows and a Never Have I Ever session with Stefan Sagmeister, Min Lew, Forest Young, Eleni Beveratou and Tina Roth Eisenberg hosted by Julian Brown RGD.

Delegates and speakers were invited to share thoughts on social media using the hashtag #rgdDT.

Registration for DesignThinkers 2024 Vancouver taking place on May 28-29 will open in December. Stay tuned!

Thank you for our volunteer photographers Nadia Otake Provisional RGD & Eric Forest RGD for day 1 and day 2 of the conference

Thank you also to Industry Partners: Adobe, Acumen (signage), Flash, Mohawk, Forge Media + Design (website) Porter (travel) and Sid Lee (branding); to Gold Sponsors Cella, CtrlPrint, Deloitte, Domtar, Monotype, Moveable, Rightsleeve, The Futur, York University School of Continuing Studies and Silver & Bronze Sponsors AZURE, Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dalton Maag, Issues Magazine Shop, Mitchell Sandham, StickerYou, Swipe Design and WeirFoulds LLP.

  • News
  • Toronto

Eleni Beveratou talks the future of type design

“For those involved in the creation of new media and platforms, it’s imperative to gain an understanding of how users engage with written communication and the critical factors that influence readability.”


Eleni Beveratou is a typeface designer and Creative Director at Daalton Maag. In advance of her keynote at DesignThinkers Toronto, we asked her a few questions about working in type design and how typography is evolving in our digital landscape.

Type is not only a fundamental aspect of graphic design, but also of written communication in general. What do you love most about working in this area of communication design?

It’s hard to choose, but my absolute favourite aspect is creating typefaces that span more than one writing system. Perhaps this is due to my Greek background, where I often see exceptional brand identities in the Latin writing system, particularly in English, which default to aesthetically poor or standard fonts when translated to other writing systems. When that happens, the impact of a brand weakens, which is disheartening. Therefore, when given the opportunity to create a typeface that transcends linguistic boundaries and resonates on a global scale, I feel that we contribute towards a more inclusive world.

Could you tell us about a typography trend or new application you’ve observed lately that has you particularly excited?

Type design currently finds itself at a crucial juncture, thanks to rapid advancements over the last five years or so. One development that particularly stands out to me is having typefaces that can seamlessly adapt to the light and dark modes in digital environments.

Nowadays, while users can choose to view the same content in light or dark mode, the way that typefaces interact with these backgrounds often gets overlooked. Black text on a white background will appear lighter than the same typeface at the same weight when displayed white on black. Our library typeface, Darkmode, tackles this very common UI issue, highlighting the critical role of type in the way that we consume content.

Digital platforms are changing the way we interact with content. How do you see the role of typography evolving in this landscape?

During this change, it’s crucial that we don’t repeat any mistakes of the past. The transition from print to digital environments led to many well-established typographic rules being overlooked, resulting in poor on-screen readability. This was largely because of a lack of research into reading habits and the craft of typography in print.

For those involved in the creation of new media and platforms, it’s imperative to gain an understanding of how users engage with written communication and the critical factors that influence readability. We must decide which reading habits of the past will be adapted, omitted, or replicated, and act accordingly with solutions like Darkmode that I mentioned above.

That said, your DesignThinkers talk is titled, “Typography in Digital Environments and Future Technologies.” Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your session?

Attendees can expect to hear me complain about how a bad typographic choice led to me missing a flight… All jokes aside, we will explore the world of typography and look at how it will manifest across future technologies, accessibility, and global reach. While we often focus solely on the visual aspects of typography, there is so much more to consider for effective, inclusive, and emotionally resonant communication for brands of all sizes.

What are you most looking forward to about coming to DesignThinkers in Toronto?

Toronto holds a special place in my heart as one of the first cities I visited in my current role. Even doing my research before arriving, I was struck by the city’s robust design community, showcased by an amazing comprehensive directory of all the design-related studios and individuals. I have yet to encounter such a thorough resource for any other city. Upon arriving in Toronto, the second thing that impressed me was its strong culture of knowledge-sharing among design peers. I can’t wait to hear more about good design, meet more passionate designers, and be part of such a strong community.


Catch Eleni’s keynote, “Typography in Digital Environments and Future Technologies,” on November 3 at 10:30 a.m. EST.

  • News
  • Toronto

Seven emerging designers win scholarships to DesignThinkers Toronto

With the support of our sponsors, the RGD is awarding seven scholarships to emerging designers to attend DesignThinkers Toronto this November 2–3.

Student RGDs, Junior Affiliates and Provisional RGDs were invited to post work in response to the prompt, “The Future of Design.” They were also asked to submit written responses outlining why they would like to attend the conference.

Each sponsor selected a winner and have provided $500 for them to use to cover the costs to attend. Sponsors include BLVD, Cinnamon Toast, Davis, Frontier, Fusion Design Group, Office/Bureau and Pound & Grain.

Below, we share their winning work. Click on each project to learn more about it.

Eldhose Kurian Student RGD (awarded by BLVD)

  • News
  • Toronto

A day in the life at DesignThinkers Toronto

As told by Olivia Montagnese Provisional RGD.


There’s no shortage of things to see and do at DesignThinkers Toronto. We asked Olivia Montagnese Provisional RGD, who has attended DesignThinkers nine times, what a typical “day in the life” at the conference looks like for her.

The doors are open. What are you up to?

On the first day of DesignThinkers, I like to arrive at the venue shortly after registration opens so that I’m able to thoroughly browse the supplier showcase booths and the giveaway table before it gets too busy. My friends try to get there around the same time as me so that we’re able to catch up, talk about what sessions we are excited to see, get breakfast and find good seats. Since there is so much excitement on the first day, arriving early and already having my schedule planned out helps me to feel more calm and ready for the busy day.

And lunch?

During lunchtime, my friends and I usually spend some time catching-up with other colleagues from the industry, and then we usually get lunch in together in the area.

You’ve watched a lot of DesignThinkers presentations over nine years! Any favourites?

There have been so many informative and memorable presentations, but some of my favourites that have resonated with me have been from Anton and Irene, Blake Howard, Emily Oberman, Aaron Draplin, Gemma O’Brien, Jessica Hische, Wade Jeffree and Leta Sobierajski, Vèronica Fuerte and Adam J. Kurtz.

I especially admire Timothy Goodman and Meg Lewis’s work, so it was such a special opportunity to be able to meet and chat with them.

Olivia and Timothy Goodman.
Olivia and Timothy Goodman in 2017.

The conference has more than just presentations, though. What do you do during your breaks and downtime?

During breaks, I usually chat with my friends, and visit the showcase booths, specifically spending a lot of time at the Swipe pop-up to hoard more design books 🤓

The delegate party is always a blast. How do you feel about it?

The delegate party is always such a fun way to end to the first day of the conference. Due to the pandemic, I’ve really missed it as the energy was amazing, and it gave me more time to catch-up with those in the industry that I don’t see often.

Olivia Montagnese (she/her) is a designer and artist based in Toronto. She’s interested in the arts and culture scene and hopes to shift perspectives and create unique and meaningful experiences through her work. She graduated from Humber College’s Graphic Design program in 2018, and currently works as a Designer at q30 design. When not designing, she can be found exploring new cafes and bookstores, taking film photos, curating playlists, and as of recently, taking pottery classes.

  • News
  • Toronto

Mike Schnaidt talks editorial design and what makes a great creative leader

“Today, the role of an editorial creative director has evolved from when I first started, and that’s what keeps me excited.”


Fast Company Creative Director Mike Schnaidt is an award-winning designer whose resume includes leading design positions at Men’s Health, Popular Science, Esquire and more. In advance of his presentation at DesignThinkers Toronto, we asked him a few questions about his career in editorial design, creating comprehensive brand ecosystems and what it means to be a strong creative leader.

You’ve worked for a number of prestigious publications during your career. What initially drew you to editorial design? What keeps you there?

As a kid, I loved comic books. X-Men. Batman. Deadpool. When I was a design student, magazines appealed to me because the art of sequential storytelling felt similar to the comics that initially stoked my creativity. Today, the role of an editorial creative director has evolved from when I first started, and that’s what keeps me excited. Magazine pages are only one part of a larger design universe that includes events, awards, podcasts, videos and so much more. My editorial experience built a necessary foundation to extend into branding.

That said, your talk is titled “I Never Had a Plan.” Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your session?

Speaking of being a kid, I’m a forever student. I love learning. Throughout my career in publishing, I’ve chased jobs based on what I was curious about: pop culture, fashion, science, health and business. I’ve worked alongside some of the best journalists, and learned a lot in the process. And so, I wanted to try my hand at a book. It’s tough! And it’s fun! So if you want to see someone get excited on stage about writing a book, come watch my session. And even if you don’t want to write a book, you’ll grab some takeaways for building a fulfilling creative life.

Fast Company has a massive brand ecosystem, existing across a number of mediums and platforms. Is there a project or campaign that you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of? What is it and why?

Our biggest event is the Innovation Festival, and I love seeing it come to life. It brings together everything I enjoy: branding, typography, animation and environmental design. There’s something so cool about seeing your design system come to life in an event space — especially after staring at it on your tiny laptop screen for months leading up to the event. I can’t wait to experience the event this September.

You’ve worked as a creative director for over five years. What do you think makes a great leader in design?

The ability to admit when you’re wrong. Design is a series of decisions, and I don’t always make the right ones. But I will say, “Hey, my bad. I led you down the wrong path. Let’s try it your way?” Nine out of ten times, the work drastically improves when I say something like that. Now that’s a good decision.

What are you most looking forward to about coming to DesignThinkers in Toronto?

There are so many talented speakers that I’m excited to meet. But I’m equally excited to chat with audience members and learn about their creative journeys. Plus: Canada!


Watch Mike’s talk, “I Never Had a Plan,” on November 3 at 11:30 a.m. EST.

  • News
  • Toronto

Seven scholarships available for DesignThinkers Toronto

Student RGDs, Junior Affiliates and Provisional RGDs are invited to post on Instagram or LinkedIn for the chance to win a $500 scholarship and free registration to DesignThinkers 2023 in Toronto.

Seven $500 scholarships will be provided by industry sponsors BLVD, Cinnamon ToastDavis, FrontierFusion Design Group, Office/Bureau and Pound & Grain. The scholarships will help cover the winners’ expenses to attend the conference. They will also receive a free two-day registration to the event.

The theme for our DesignThinkers 2023 Toronto Scholarship Program is the “Future of Design.”

How to enter

1. Set your Instagram profile to public. Then, post a piece of work that best represents you and your goals for the future (e.g. an area you’d like to work in).

2. For an additional opportunity to be considered by our judges and receive a Scholarship, also post a project on LinkedIn.

3. Hashtag your posts with #HeyRGD and #HeyRGDTOYou must use both hashtags.⁠

4. Complete the application form.

The deadline to enter is September 15.

Winners will be chosen based on the strength of their work and responses on the form.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a scholarship or have any questions, email Hilary at [email protected].

  • News
  • Toronto

In-person vs. streaming: What’s the difference?

DesignThinkers Toronto is a hybrid event: you can attend in-person or online through streaming. But what’s included in each ticket type? We’ll cover the two options so you can choose the conference experience that’s right for you.

Attending in person

In-person passes allow you to participate in all sessions live at the conference in downtown Toronto. This includes presentations, hands-on workshops and roundtable discussions with other attendees about design-related topics.

In-person attendees can also connect with industry suppliers in our Supplier Showcase; this is a great opportunity to make contacts with vendors who offer products and services to design and creative professionals.

You also have the chance to network and meet new people. Whether you’re striking up a conversation with someone at the Delegate Party or saying hello to other attendees in your row in the theatre, being at DesignThinkers in person allows you to easily connect with others.

And in case you have to step out for a call or want to rewatch your favourites, in-person passes grant you access to the presentation recordings for three months after the conference.

Attending online

Streaming passes grant you access to an online event platform where you can watch presentations live as they’re happening in Toronto. However, streaming attendees are only able to watch presentations; they are unable to participate in workshops or roundtable discussions due to their interactive nature.

The online event platform allows you to chat with other attendees tuning in virtually, but there is no access to the Supplier Showcase or Delegate Party.

Just like the in-person passes, streaming tickets grant you access to the presentation recordings for three months after the conference.

What should you choose?

Attending DesignThinkers Toronto in-person offers more opportunities for hands-on learning and connection with other designers and industry suppliers. If you’re looking for an immersive experience with plenty of options to network and level up your skills, this is a great option for you.

Attending DesignThinkers Toronto online is a great option if you’re just looking to learn from the presentations, are unable to attend in person but still want to invest in your professional development or if it’s the ticket that fits most comfortably in your budget.

Whichever option you choose, attending DesignThinkers Toronto this November 2 and 3 is your chance to explore creativity, the design process, the future of design and design thinking.

  • News
  • Toronto

Insights from DesignThinkers 2022 in Toronto

All the ephemera of life, that we tend to ignore, is what graphic designers in film have to bring to life in order to help tell the story. Our job is to support the narrative with strong visuals so that you, as an audience, can 100% believe what you are seeing at any moment in the film.

- Miraphora Lima Co-Founder of Studio MinaLima

Below we share some takeaways from presentations and discussions over the two days of the RGD’s DesignThinkers Conference, held in Toronto on October 27–28, 2022.

Check out more on social media using the hashtag #rgdDT.

“Don’t be afraid to show up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to listen and celebrate that unique voice of yours. To speak with authority based on your own lived experiences and your own stories. But more than that, don’t be afraid to draw boundaries, slow down and recharge, because some of us are too busy speaking up for others that we forget to speak up for ourselves.”  — Mel Sutjiadi RGD, Founder of ARToverMATTER

“There was this expectation that if you’re a young designer, you should challenge conventions but for me it was much more nuanced than just following a rule or breaking a rule. I had classmates that operated on each end of that spectrum and I felt like I operated in the middle and you could call that an inflection point — the moment in which you changed the direction.” — Eric Hu, Independent Creative Director & Typographer

“Whether it’s a song that becomes your anthem or power posing or breathing exercises — whatever it is, it’s great to find tools that work for you and help you out in situations that may otherwise make you feel like you’re out of control.” — Elana Rudick RGD, Founder & Creative Director of Design Is Yummy

“As designers, everything we produce, even the most sustainable products, have a negative impact on the planet, so the best thing to do is to reuse stuff especially in the world of food and beverage — reuse packaging and create strategies to encourage customers to do so.”  — Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer & Senior VP at PepsiCo.

“Personal projects are a way for me to connect with myself. To understand how I tackle the creative process and all that happens in my mind when I’m doing or navigating all those ups and downs of a project” — Paloma Rincón Rodriguez, Visual Artist

“Social media profits are an alternative form of capitalism called surveillance capitalism. They have found a loophole where you don’t have to pay to use an app but you pay with your attention, time and data. And within the existing economic system, companies cannot do the right thing because they would lose enormous amounts of money. This is a change that will take years to take effect. But until we have policies and regulations that help technology work for us, we, as creators and people building the technology, can have an effect. We have to fix this at the root of the problem.” — Bethany Sonefeld, Design Manager, Duo Security

“Often when you’re working across different teams, the languages that folks use are different but everyone is saying the same thing. And so you can have brand designers in a room with developers and they’re saying the same thing but not understanding each other. I call this “Talking in Time Horizons”. A designer would talk to an engineer and the engineer would talk to a product manager. And they’re all right. It’s just a different Time Horizons. A designer might have an idea but that idea is a six-month down the road idea — a big idea. The engineers are talking about an idea for tomorrow. And they’re both right. It’s just the Time Horizon that is different.” — Gene Lee, Vice President at Autodesk

  • News
  • Toronto

Over 1600 creatives came together for the DesignThinkers Conference in Toronto

While Laurie Rosenwald held a “top secret” workshop on analog lettering, some speakers spilled the beans in the Never Have I Ever session — on October 27 and 28 creatives from across Canada attended the 23rd annual DesignThinkers Conference at the Meridian Hall in Toronto.

In addition to having the option to choose from four different streams of talks and workshops and engaging in honest conversations about the ever-changing world of visual communication, this year’s delegates were clearly thrilled to meet and connect with their peers in person after three years. The conference also had an option for online live screening for those who preferred to attend from their home or office.

All delegates have access to presentation recordings on the event platform, Pheedloop until the end of January, after which time they will be made available to all RGD Members in the Members-only section of the RGD website. You can still register here to get access to the recordings on Pheedloop.

As a precursor to the conference, on October 26, three guided tours to top creative studios in Toronto were held featuring King UrsaContext CreativeNurunlg2JackmanSid LeeVanderbrand, BLVD and Sovereign State.

DesignThinkers 2022 Day 1 Images

Day 1 of the Conference featured talks from Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, Eric Hu, Sara Wachter-Boettcher, Paloma Rincón Rodriguez, Kevin Hawkins, Elana Rudick RGD, Maurice Cherry and Mauro Procini, among others. Speakers discussed topics that included accessible design, creative AI, human side of innovation, telling stories through design, defying self perception and more. The day also featured panel discussions on building in-house team and in-house client management and workshops by Laurie Rosenwald on lettering and Robert Smith RGD on SWOT.

Day 1 finished with a Delegate Party at Bier Markt, where delegates and speakers were able to connect over some delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks and have much-needed in-person conversations.

DesignThinkers Toronto photos

Day 2 was packed with just as much defiance and creativity. Morag Myerscough, Alex Center, Matteo Bologna, Teresa Moses, Gene Lee, Samuel Proulx, Christine Caruso and Lionel Gadoury RGD and many more took the stage to discuss topics such as embracing change, design with an abolitionist mindset, creative confidence, breaking free from familiar, defying boring and more. The day also featured a Never Have I Ever session with Matteo Bologna, Morag Myerscough, Jolene Delisle & Alex Center hosted by Julian Brown RGD and workshops on lettering by Ying Chang and improv for designers by Diana Varma RGD.

In addition to the regular conference sessions, delegates had the opportunity to get their books signed by MinaLima, Mauro Procini, Laurie Rosenwald, Sara Wachter-Boettcher, Silas Munro, Robert Smith RGD, connect with peers during breakfast and lunch at roundtable discussions and to see, feel, sample, test and consider the latest products and service offerings available to our industry in the Designer Marketplace. Dominic Ayre RGD also held a lunchtime typography workshop which was packed with attendees on both days.

Delegates and speakers were invited to share thoughts about the DesignThinkers Conference on social media using the hashtag #rgdDT.

Thank you for our volunteer photographers Andrew Terwissen RGD for day 1 and Maninder Singh RGD for day 2 of the conference.

DesignThinkers Newsletter

Sign up for conference updates, speaker news, and more from the RGD