DesignThinker #1

The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD), in partnership with the Rotman School of Management, presented Canadian corporate leader David Labistour with the inaugural DesignThinker of the Year award. Labistour is the chief executive officer of MEC, Canada’s leading retailer of outdoor gear, apparel and services.

The award was presented at RGD’s 14th annual DesignThinkers Conference in Toronto, attended by 1,500 creative professionals and business communicators. Labistour was recognized for his long-standing commitment to design and appreciation for the process of design thinking to fuel innovation, as well as leading one of Canada’s most beloved brands through a bold redesign with Toronto firm Concrete this year.

“’Design thinking’ allows us to make sense of our complex, exponentially changing world and address the needs of our customers, communities, economy and ecology,” says Labistour.

Says award judge Alan Dye, executive creative director at Apple, “[David] has built MEC on design…with a deep respect for the people that both make and use their products, as well as the environmental and social impacts,”

Other judges were Mark Leung, director of DesignWorks at Rotman, and Bruce Nussbaum, author of Creative Intelligence.

“Design Thinking has had a strong influence on how Rotman teaches creativity and innovation,” says Leung of the school’s decision to partner on the award. “Design has evolved beyond just the aesthetic and into a powerful way of working across disciplines.”The DesignThinker of the Year award shines a spotlight on the role design can play in business success and innovation.

The award was designed by multi-disciplinary design firm Jacknife and fabricated using innovative 3-D printing technology by Agile Manufacturing.


Representing over 3,000 members, RGD is a hub for the graphic design community, promoting knowledge sharing, continuous learning, research, advocacy and mentorship.


Rotman is redesigning business education for the 21st century with a curriculum based on Business Design and Integrative Thinking, and by fostering a new way to think that enables the design of creative business solutions.