Lebon’s Insight

This year, the Design Thinkers Vancouver Conference 2019 curated an impressive and diverse lineup of talented speakers across a range of industries, each bringing a unique perspective from their field.

We have curated our key takeaways from the conference to share with you because we believe sharing is caring.


James Victore is an artist and activist famous for his book “Feck Perfuction”. His talk was about his personal experiences and lessons in life that lead him on the path to become the artist that he is today, making work that is “sexy, strong and memorable”. Sarah Hyndman is a graphic designer renowned for her research into the psychology of type, which she calls “Type Tasting”. Her talk is about the data she’s collected from her research throughout the years, and poses questions about how this data can change the future of design. Dr. Milena Radzikowska is a designer and educator that sheds light on the potential of design to serve the under-represented. Her talk illuminates the privilege that comes with being designers, and how we can use that privilege for good. These are my key findings from their talks.


  1. ‘Au Bon Pain’ by James Victore

Warrior not worrier

If there’s any take away I got from James Victore’s talk, it’s the phrase “warrior not worrier”. After suffering a severe motorcycle accident that broke 10 ribs, a collar bone, and punctured his lung; James endured a tough few months in rehab and started what his wife calls their “clumsy year of growth”.

“My teacher came at the right time and for the right reason.”

As James calls it, we’re all in the stage of “cruising pain”. Designers have a tendency to cruise through our careers underselling our talents (does asking for cheaper freelance design fees ring any bells?). After his motorcycle accident, which James poetically describes: “my body had to give way for my heart to grow”, James launched himself into a life of risk taking. His weekly trips to the massage therapist is a painful reminder that the benefits of moving past the stage of cruising pain often outweigh the costs. He is now slowly regaining full function of his body instead of accepting his fate.

We often get so comfortable with undervaluing our own unique talents that the voice inside our heads start to believe it’s the truth. Jame’s talk is a wake up call to designers who are cruising through life wanting more but not willing to take the risks to achieve it. He teaches us that we don’t need to break half our body to learn his lesson, and the career anxieties we often feel are not as bad as it may seem.


  1. ‘Tasting Type’ by Sarah Hyndman

It’s not about kerning, it’s the impression they make on the subconscious.”

Sarah Hyndman’s talk on her founded “Type Tasting” studio is an eye-opening look into the hidden meanings behind the everyday fonts we see out in the world. According to Sarah: “A font is not just a font”. Type often has deep seeded connections with our memories and experiences. For example, a walk down the foods of America aisle at your local grocery store can conjure up a lifetime of childhood experiences directly linked with the logos we see on the packages. Certain type may seem friendlier or harsher, louder or quieter, sweeter our saltier, depending on the associations we make about them based on our own experiences.

“Typography is your voice.”

Going beyond the aesthetics of type, Sarah reminds us that type is a reflection of our culture. So how can we use this to our advantage? For one, Sarah talks about the possibility of using type to influence the outcome of how a consumer tastes food. She recalls a crowd-favorite experiment of hers, in which she used different type to alter the flavors of jellybeans. The positive impacts of this research can be life-changing, as she suggests making foods sweeter with font and thus using less artificial sugar in production.

While Sarah is still in her stage of research for her upcoming series of Type Tasting books. It’s important to think twice about the messages we convey when we pick fonts for design.


  1. Lightning Talk: ‘Privilege by Design’ by Dr. Milena Radzikowska

Dr. Milena Radzikowska says that design decisions contribute to society and have significant consequences. She dives into the story of the AK47, originally designed to be a lighter weight weapon, which consequently became the weapon of choice for child soldiers because it was easiest to carry. Dr. Radzikowska asks us to question the design decisions that we make that are informed by design history, and challenges us to stay away from what is safe and familiar to destroy power dynamics formed by history. Her talk is a powerful reminder of our privelage in design and how we can use it to mold its impact into something benefitial for future generations to come.


As a digital marketing agency, all three talks were a welcomed perspective which gave us a lot of food for thought. Do you agree with his key points?

As always, there were too many learnings from the whole conference to fit into one blog post. Stay tuned for more key takeaways from the Design Thinkers 2019 conference in following weeks.