25 Design Thinking Conferences for 2019

This past April, I crossed off a big item on my bucket-list by attending my first-ever design thinking conference. I had the opportunity to not only attend Design Thinking 2018 in Austin, but also serve as an official media partner for the conference. It was an incredible experience that accelerated my trajectory as a design thinking practitioner.

In October, I also had the opportunity to participate in Service Design Week which was a fantastic deep dive into the world of service design.

Through both conference experiences, I’ve become convinced in the potential value of attending human-centered design oriented conferences. I developed a strong external network of design thinking practitioners and learned from leaders in a variety of industries. The network I gained and best practices I learned have been invaluable to me as a design thinking practitioner.

Looking Ahead to Design Thinking Conferences in 2019

Since my initial post on design thinking conferences a little over a year ago, I frequently get asked about other DT conferences throughout the world. I see the world of design thinking & service design conferences continuing to expand and a couple of emerging trends:

  1. Large conference players like IQPC and Luxatia expanding winning conference models into new regions and segments
  2. Increased specialization/focus within specific conferences (e.g. Design Sprint Conferences, Service Design in Government)
  3. Stalwarts like POLISHOPA and SDFF continuing to hold steady and deliver great programs year after year

Similar to last year, I’ve made my list of design thinking conferences for the upcoming year. My list has grown from 17 conferences in 2018, to 25 conferences in 2019. (NOTE: Serv Des has been removed from the list as it is bi-annual and will not be back until 2020).

My Preliminary List of Design Thinking Conferences for 2019

Design Thinking Conference 2019 List.jpg

IMPORTANT NOTE – Red Font Means Conference Date/Location Needs to Be Confirmed. For newer conferences, this also means confirming whether they are actually happening at all in 2019 


  • Design Indaba (Cape Town, South Africa – February 27 – March 1, 2019)
    • Not a pure design thinking conference, heavy focus on the holistic creativity/pure design side. I continue to hear great reviews from previous attendees and it’s hard to beat Cape Town!
    • 1, 2, & 3 day passes available / ~$230-$600 USD
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • Design Thinking Ghana Conference (DTGC) – (Accra, Ghana –  June 2019?)


  • No updates from here since last year. McMurdo Station is always devising new research projects and experiments but I think it will be quite a while until we see a design thinking conference in Antarctica.


  • Brainstorm Design Conference (Singapore – March 5-7, 2019)
    • An expansion of the ‘Innovation by Design Conference’ held in Singapore the past 3 years. Part of Singapore Design Week. Some great companies & speakers. Participants can submit interest but must then be “invited”.
    • 3 days / $2,500 USD
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • Design Thinking in Action (Hong Kong or Singapore – October 2019?)
    • Smaller conference with some interesting speakers. Videos from the 2016 and 2017 sessions are posted on their website. Participants can submit interest but must then be “invited”.
    • 2 days / Cost ?
    • Link to Details from 2018 Conference
  • Service Design Hong Kong – (Hong Kong – November 7-8, 2019)  
    • Conference happens annually during Fall. Some great speakers and interesting topics.
    • 2 days / ~$250-$500 USD
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • Design Thinking Asia – (Singapore – December 2019?)
    • Design Thinking Asia just complete its inaugural session this past month. I have yet to speak with anyone who attended and thus don’t know much about this one.
    • 4 days / ~$2,700-$4,200 USD
    • Link to Details from 2018 Conference


  • Design Thinking 2019 – (Sydney, Australia – June, 2019?)
    • I know little about this conference and my info here is very speculative. Run by IQPC, the same people who run Design Thinking Austin (which I’m a huge fan of). However, I don’t know anyone who’s attended the Sydney addition.
    • 2 days / $2,800 – $4,200 USD
    • Link to Details from 2018 Conference
  • UX Australia – (Sydney, Australia – August, 2019?)  


  • Design Thinking & Innovation Week – (London, England – March 18-22, 2019)
    • This is more of a design safari/course, not a conference. It’s also very small in size. It’s managed by Future London Academy and has been going on for a couple of years. Agenda and content feel very thoughtfully curated.
    • 5 days / $2,500 USD
    • March 2019 Course Details
  • The UX Conference – (London, England – February 21, 2019)
  • Service Design in Government – (Edinburgh, Scotland – March 6-8, 2019)
    • Service design/design thinking for people focused on designing and commissioning public services. Interesting agenda; I’m not in the public sector but believe there’s much to learn from analogous experiences in other industries.
    • 3 days / ~$400-800 USD
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • Service Design Summit – (Barcelona, Spain – April 4-5, 2019)
    • 2nd annual session (2018 conference was held in Prague). Video from 2018 on the site. Spain has some strong service design communities but I’m not very familiar with this newer conference.
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • POLISHOPA – (Bydgoszcz, Poland – June 3-6, 2019)
    • I will make it here one day. Conference has happened annually since 2014 and they had a number of interesting speakers. Lots of videos from prior speakers are available on the website.
    • 4 days / ~$60-250 USD
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • Design Thinking Camp – (Moscow, Russia – July 3-5, 2019)
    • Newer conference that will be entering its 3rd year in 2019. Diverse list of speakers across industries, many coming from outside Russia. First year of conference had 500+ attendees.
    • 3 days / $360 USD
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • Design Thinking Forum – (Bucharest, Romania – September 19, 2019) 
    • Smaller conference that will be entering its 3rd year in 2019. I admittedly know very little about the Romanian DT community; this conference was brought to my attention by one of my readers.
    • 1 day / $160 USD
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • Service Design Days – (Barcelona, Spain – October 2019?)
    • The event organizers for this event pride themselves in creating an agenda that lives at the intersection of business and design. Took place in early October in 2018.
    • 2 Days / Cost $?
    • Link to Conference Homepage
  • The Design Thinking Conference – (Amsterdam – October 10-11, 2019)
    • A very non-traditional conference, this design thinking conference by DesignThinkers Academy is heavily influenced by the world of theater. There is a heavy focus on learning by doing in this conference. Fantastic & seasoned facilitators (or “actors”/”actresses” as they refer to them).
    • 2 days / $1,130 – $1,360 USD
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • Service Design Fringe Festival – (London, UK – October 2019?)
    • SDFF is a London-based service design festival is heading into its 6 year of existence in 2019. The festival seeks to advance the overall field of service design.  Took place in mid-October in 2018.
    • 3 Days / Cost $?
    • Link to Festival Homepage
  • Design Thinking (Luxatia) – (Somewhere in Europe – October 2019?) 
    • Some great companies and speakers. Was held in Berlin, Germany in 2018 and in Prague, Czech Republic in 2017.
    • 2 days / $2,000 – $4,000 USD
    • Link to 2018 Conference

North America

  • Design Thinking – (Austin, TX – April 16-18, 2019)
    • This was officially the first-ever design thinking conference I’ve attended and it was an incredible experience. I can honestly say that the contacts I made from the conference and the lessons I learned from attending (especially around scaling design thinking in large organizations), truly accelerated my trajectory as a design thinking practitioner.
    • 3 days / $550 – $4,200 USD (many different ticket options)
    • Read my Review of the 2018 Conference
    • 2019 Conference Details
  • RGD DesignThinkers – (Vancouver, BC – May 28-29, 2019)
  • Sprint Conference – (San Francisco, CA? – October 2019?)
    • This is THE conference to attend if you are a design sprint master. Lots of open sharing between participants. Hosted by Google and held in San Francisco the past 2 years, this conference is invitation only.
    • 3 days / Free but must be invited
    • Link to Details from 2018 Conference
  • Service Design Week – (October, 2019)
  • RGD DesignThinkers – (Toronto, ON – October 24-25, 2019)
    • Canada’s RGD association brings great DT speakers every year
    • 2 days / $225 – $675 USD
    • Conference Homepage

South America

  • Interaction Latin America – (Medellin, Colombia – October 31 – November 2, 2019) 
    • Interaction and UX design centric conference. Features both Spanish & English speaking presenters. Location in South America changes every year and will be in Colombia in 2019.
    • 3 days / $280 – $300 USD
    • Conference Homepage

The list of design thinking conferences and agendas is enticing for 2019. I’m officially hooked and can’t wait to attend my next design thinking conference (I’ll be at Design Thinking in Austin again).

If you’re looking to build your design thinking practitioner network and to learn from some of the brightest in the field, you should definitely consider attending one of these conferences. If there are other good ones I’m missing for 2019 or updated info for the ones I’ve identified, please let me know!

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