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Calling all Adobe CS gurus. Discover how to bolster your personal brand at the 17th edition of DesignThinkers. Organized by the Association of Registered Graphic Designers, this year’s conference runs November 3 and 4 at Toronto’s Sony Centre.

Over 30 brilliant minds are set to share their hard-earned industry wisdom during the festival’s speaker sessions. And with top creative directors and typeface designers in the mix, attendees are sure to be spared from presentations built around dull PowerPoint slides.

Below, we round up five speakers we’re especially excited to hear from. Plan your own DesignThinkers schedule by taking a look at the full line-up of speakers and presentation topics.

1 Are We There Yet? A Road Trip Through Utopia – Nov 3 at 9 am, on the main stage
In her position as MoMA’s Senior Curator of Architecture & Design, Paola Antonelli educates museum-goers about the positive influence design has on our everyday lives. Currently, she’s preparing Items: Is Fashion Modern?, a collection of 99 culturally significant garments set to open in January. She’ll draw from her experience working on this and other exhibitions to discuss how designers take inspiration from our goals and aspirations to move us ever-closer to a utopian vision of the world.


2 Into the Dark – Nov 3 at 4:45 pm, on the main stage
During his time at branding consultancy Collins, Leland Maschmeyer was responsible for designing cutting-edge branding material for two of today’s most popular web services: streaming music service Spotify and real estate rental site Airbnb. Recently, he left the firm to join Chobani as the Greek yogurt company’s chief creative officer. He’ll use his presentation to highlight how working “client-side” – meaning in-house at the brand one is designing for, rather than at an agency – can boost creativity.


3 Sarofsky’s Top 10 Design Philosophies – Nov 3 at 2:30 pm, on the main stage
Anyone who’s watched a recent superhero movie will recognize Erin Sarofsky’s work. The designer’s firm, Sarofsky Corp., created the animated opening credits for this summer’s Captain America: Civil War, as well as the title sequences for past Marvel Studios blockbusters Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. She’ll use her session to identify what she sees as being a designer’s coolest superpowers – namely, an attention to detail and an eye for the right collaborators.


4 Punch Cutting for Pixels – Nov 3 at 10 am, on the main stage
Acclaimed typeface designer Tobias Frere-Jones is the man behind such famous fonts as Gotham, which was the official typeface of Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign and used on artist Shepard Fairey’s famous “Hope” poster. So it’s no surprise that Frere-Jones has some strong opinions about improving the legibility of on-screen text. After presenting a condensed history of typography, he’ll reveal how old-school typesetting techniques can inform modern-day word treatments.


5 Like Me – Nov 3 at 3:30 pm, in the Jane Mallett Theatre at the St Lawrence Centre
Over the years, some of the world’s most recognizable companies – including Starbucks, Samsung and Delta – have enlisted Connie Birdsall, global creative director of Lippincott, to create campaigns that keep them at the forefront of our brains. Who better, then, to deliver a discussion about the ways we bond with brands. The talk will build upon ideas first explored in an exhibition presented by Lippincott during last year’s London Design Festival and recently shown in New York at the Condé Nast Gallery.

DesignThinkers is on November 3 and 4, at Toronto’s Sony Centre. Tickets start at $350 for RGD members, with discounts available for students and groups.

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