Team Fusion, our clients from Strides and our illustration partner, Jaida posing as a group with our branding award.
Team Fusion

We Went to DesignThinkers TO!

The Fusion team was fortunate enough to attend what became the biggest DesignThinkers conference the RGD has had to date. We had such a great time, we wanted to take the opportunity to share our experiences and what our big takeaways were.
Event graphics from RGD Design Thinkers

What set this year’s DesignThinkers apart from others that you’ve attended?

Brent: Winning a Branding Award for our BECL website project and celebrating with our amazing illustration partner and clients. Learn more about the project here.

Natasha: Starting the conference with our own strategy meeting and having a solutions oriented mindset while listening to the speakers. 

Elmira: This year’s DT focused more on sharing valuable design tips and was more informative and less on self-promotion. 

Sarah: I took something away from every talk, even ones I didn’t expect to. Almost every speaker shared something practical, not just showing off their work. Many highlighted books they felt were great resources so I came away with a very long “need to read” list. 

Melissa: I felt that this year was really focused on equipping attendees with knowledge and tools to progress and succeed in the quick and ever-changing design industry. Rather than just leaving impressed and quietly wondering “How do I get to work on something like that?” I left excited to have new resources and new ideas.

Can you recall a specific quote or piece of advice from a speaker that resonated with you?

Brent: “Arial is NOT the best font!” — Eleni Beveratou

Natasha: That creativity lives in an ecosystem and all parts need to be looked after in order for everything to thrive. Follow Emma Salonen (@studioemmi on Instagram) to learn more about the creative ecosystem.

Elmira: “Be curious!” — Renato Fernandez

Sarah: “At the end of the day, we’re in a made up world, so that means we can change what’s there.” – Tina Roth Eisenberg

Melissa: “Be overaware of your privilege. Content is everything and your representation matters.” — Jay Demetillo 
“With design we are influencing our environment and what people believe is possible. Images are not as naive as we think, and not so insignificant as we may want to believe. They are the manifestation of our dreams and hopes for what we wish to see in the world.” — Rejane Dalbello

What was the most surprising or unexpected thing you learned during the conference?

Brent: It’s taken Voyager over 40 years to reach the edge of our universe. 

Natasha: That we read by jumping across the sentences and not to eat the elk tartar. 

Elmira: I was surprised to realize that design can sometimes unintentionally perpetuate racism!

Sarah: We don’t read in a continuous line, rather our eyes hop along, focusing on every 7 – 9 characters, and then take a few pictures on the left and then on the right, and then we move on. The simpler we make it for our eyes to do this type of movement, the easier the text is to read.

Visual showing how our eyes jump from letter to letter to read.
Images from Eleni’s presentation about how we read.

There’s a misconception that the simpler the typeface, the easier it is to read. We recognize letterforms from the top half, so when the tops of letters look the same, we actually have a harder time reading them—we need the bottom half of the character to recognize the form.

Melissa: I was shocked to learn that Midjourney only had 11 employees and that people aren’t as scared of AI as I am.

What books or resources will you be exploring after learning about them at DT?

Brent: Creative Endurance by Mike Schnait 

Natasha: ALL. THE. BOOKS.
First: Move: How the New Science of Body Movement Can Set Your Mind Free by Caroline Williams.
We’ve also connected with so many new people that now we have other experts in the field that we can reach out. 

Elmira: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

Sarah: I’m already reading Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman. It reads like a documentary, and gives a fresh perspective on how we view ourselves. 
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us by Sudan Magsamen
Move: How the New Science of Body Movement Can Set Your Mind Free by Caroline Williams
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier
Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen by Zoe Chance

Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us by Sudan Magsamen
Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregm
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

DesignThinkers 2023 stage

How did the conference contribute to your professional growth?

Brent: Helped replenish my professional and creative batteries

Natasha: I used to be so nervous to talk to people in the industry, DesignThinkers cultivates a culture where you want to connect with everyone and each year I see my personal network grow. 

Elmira: The conference taught me how to thrive in an AI-driven career.

Sarah: DesignThinkers is always inspiring and it refreshes my outlook on my work. I find I come away feeling optimistic and enthusiastic for what I do, and I’m always excited to take what I’ve learned and put it into practice. It’s also a chance to network, see friends and old school mates and attending as a team always brings us closer—I definitely consider this a strong team building event.

Melissa: DesignThinkers has given room for representation, in all contexts, to take the stage. And this year in particular made me feel very seen. Speakers who looked like me shared similar struggles and triumphs, speakers who cared about the same things as me shared solutions and best practices. I left feeling renewed and motivated!

Team Fusion attending DesignThinkers
Team Fusion at DesignThinkers TO!
Exterior of Meridian Hall with DesignThinkers event graphics
Meridian Hall where DT takes place!

Looking back at the week, what overall positive impact do you think attending DesignThinkers will have on the team’s collaborative and creative output?

Brent: Re-focus on strategy, creative and inspiration; seeing beyond just client projects.

Natasha: I think DesignThinkers creates this space of possibilities, it gets us out of our normal environments and shows us what else is going on in society and the world of design. Being exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking will help push us to grow personally, which in turn influences the way we design.  

Elmira: Design Thinkers helps us exchange new ideas, explore the creative thinking of other designers, and gain inspiration for future projects.

Sarah: There’s an energy that everyone has, a renewed sense of purpose and motivation. Everyone is excited and that enthusiasm is contagious. I’m excited about what we’re going to do with this energy.

Melissa: Team Fusion got the opportunity to break from routine and really focus on relevant knowledge and insight. Having team members that are inspired, smarter and more motivated makes for a better and collaboration-ready team. 

At the end of the day, we're in a made up world, so that means we can change what’s there.”