David is Managing Partner and a Design Strategist. He is a passionate designer who’s true pleasure lies in clarifying and decrypting details of complex communication problems, information, mapping and visual systems. Creating clear, intuitive design programs from these situations is his life’s blood. Oh, and fine food too.
Born in Toronto, Canada in 1960, to a psychiatrist father and artist mother, graphic design was clearly his destiny. David’s family moved to Vancouver in 1970, settling in the picturesque Whytecliffe area of West Vancouver. David spent high school in his boat on the water in and around Horseshoe Bay, Gibsons and Sechelt. A respect for the environment, sustainability and a sense of place were naturally ingrained in the young Coates. After high school and a seven year career as a carpenter, David returned to school to study graphic design at Emily Carr College of Art + Design, and established Ion in 1988 with partner Rod Roodenburg.
The partners quickly earned a reputation for breaking down design clichés and developing edgy yet effective design solutions. Rhonda Rubinstein of Print Magazine in the US stated “Ion has single-handedly institutionalized hip design.”
David has earned hundreds of design awards over the years and articles about him have appeared in many international print and online publications. One of his early art book projects for Fletcher Challenge Canada is included in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada. David has lectured to business people, educators, students and professional designers throughout his career.
In 1994, David was named among the “Top 40 Under 40” business people in Vancouver by Business in Vancouver. In 1996, David was named to the Applied Arts Magazine editorial board, and served in that capacity until 2000. David also judged the National Post Annual Report Awards four years running and has judged the Applied Arts Awards several times. In 2000 Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design presented David with an Emily Award – its highest honour – for lifetime career achievement. In 2001 David was named to the sessional faculty of Emily Carr where he taught for several years.
Believing in giving back to community, David has been involved in the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) since 1991. He served as president of the BC Chapter for two terms from 1993-1996. David was instrumental in bringing the organization online both in the public facing side and the member intranet – effectively changing the way the GDC does business forever. He became National President in 1998-2000, and after his tenure the GDC awarded David fellowship in the Society for his contribution to Canadian design – it’s highest honour. David continues to support the GDC through annual contributions to the GDC Foundation.
Today David’s work is focused on developing design strategy for Ion’s clients in addition to the daily operations of the firm. He continues to build his knowledge base through conferences, seminars and workshops as well as his voracious appetite for reading.