5 Must-Watch Design System Talks from Config 2024

Missed Config but don't know which of the recordings to watch first? Start with these 5 talks about design systems and learn about opinionated design systems, increasing adoption, building a multi-brand design system, and more.

Config, Figma's annual design conference, just wrapped last week. This year, there was an entire track and stage dedicated to design systems. With so many talks about the topic (and many others), it's hard to figure out what to prioritize. Here's 4 of our favorite talks from the design system stage, along with the design system best practices deep dive by Figma.

The value of opinions in design systems by Nate Baldwin (Senior Staff Designer at Adobe)

“For our opinions to have any value, they had to be formed in collaboration.” - Nate Baldwin

Nate talks about why having an opinionated design system is important — and sometimes asked for by internal customers — how the Intuit Design System team formed opinions with input from all stakeholders through interactive workshops, and why they shifted from component-specific tokens to semantic tokens.

The broken promises of design systems by Cam Worboys (Head of Design, OS at Cash App)

Design systems promise speed, cohesion, and quality, but do they actually deliver on these promises? Cam discusses where design systems fall short and how they can improve:

  1. Speed shouldn’t come at the cost of great ideas
  2. Strive for consistency without commodification
  3. Give teams the recipe not just the ingredients

Design system addiction by Pim Strengers & Olena Musatova at Booking.com

The Booking.com design system is designed for scale and serves 150+ product teams, 200+ designers, and 5 platforms. In their talk, Pim and Olena share how they’ve increased adoption of the design system since launching BUI in 2018 through building product trust and technical integrations.

Read “Building Durable Component APIs for Design Systems” by Dmitry Belyaev (Principal Front-end Engineer at Booking.com) to learn how they implement predictable releases with component APIs.

Delivering a multi-sub-brand design system for e-commerce by Gonzalo Vasquez, Leonie Proske, and Sheryl Bagga at Zalando

The Zolando team walks through how they use design tokens at scale to make theming possible for the many sub-brands (or categories) of Zolando. They also share 6 principles to keep in mind when theming:

  1. One page, one theme
  2. Prioritize coherence
  3. Design for the brand
  4. Sustainable and scalable
  5. Purposeful and intentional
  6. Accessible by default

The best part of the talk? Jump to 7:05 to meet “design toKen” and the many themes of Ryan Gosling. 

Design systems best practices by Figma Design Advocates

Figma Design Advocates Ana Boyer, Alexia Danton, and Chad Bergman share 3 principles to keep in mind when building design systems, based on their work with Figma customers.

  1. Approach complexity with caution
  2. Always be grounded in your priorities
  3. Validation before execution

They then dive into 5 key insights they’ve gathered and how to leverage Figma to implement these learnings. 

  1. Keep a consumer-first mindset
  2. Communication is a two-way street
  3. Build community to scale adoption
  4. Use data to inform decisions
  5. Nothing is forever

Want to watch more talks about design systems? Check out the recordings from our past Supernova events.

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