Designers influence so much of our lives, yet their own lives can be a bit of a mystery. So, I was fascinated to read issue 3 of Backstage Talks, the April 2018 magazine from my Stack subscription. Backstage Talks magazine delves beneath the surface of design, going ‘behind the scenes’ and interviewing designers about their careers, inspirations, and design processes, giving us a window to peek into graphic and software designers’ working lives and creative choices.
Behind the Scenes at By Design Conference
The magazine’s name ‘Backstage Talks’ has a more literal meaning too. The designers in issue 3 all appeared at the yearly By Design Conference in Bratislava last May, and Backstage Talks is a printed record of the event. Every year, the editorial team led by Martin Jenča, editor-in-chief of Backstage Talks and design director at Milk Design, have relaxed, informal conversations backstage with the designers. It’s these conversations that form the yearly magazine content.
I thought that 10 interviews would be too many in a single issue, but every designer’s interpretation and process of design was different. From Rajane Dal Bello’s belief that design should have social responsibility, to the design agency Mucho’s experience of collaborative design, to pure humour with Mr Bingo’s effervescent illustrations. What joins every designer together, from Hermut Esslinger the designer of Wega Systems 3000 – what we would now consider ‘old technology’ – to Annika Koskinen, Design Director at Spotify, is their focus on creating something better than what’s come before, that’s also visually beautiful and beautiful to interact with.
Bringing Design Principles to Life in Print
Backstage Talks itself if beautifully designed. The interviews are split up by bold coloured sectional pages. Blocks of large font text highlight interesting snippets and keep the layout stimulating in longer interviews. Small coloured arrows link sentences to the accompanying illustration or photo, which is a fun, quirky addition. It also makes it so much easier to see what is being referenced, without breaking from reading and scanning the page. This attention to detail and desire to innovate and create a better user experience for the reader is design principles brought to life in print magazines.