Config 2024: Our highlights

02. JULY 2024

What's new in Config 2024: our highlights of the conference

We attended our very first Config physically in San Francisco and, needless to say, it was a blast for us product designers. We had high expectations and Figma over-delivered. It wasn’t just the new features that made this conference so special, it was the quality of the talks and the overall event too. It was hard to pick out highlights but below are a few learnings that resonated particularly for us. 

AI is here to accelerate the iteration process

We took away a couple of nuggets of wisdom on AI from an amazing opening panel with Arin Bhowmick from SAP, Ronit Cyjon from, Robert Berini from UBS and Patrick Jean from Grab. We learnt that design leaders have to embrace the AI evolution and prepare their teams for change. Patrick emphasised how AI will accelerate the manual work behind the concept and design phase. You can, with the snap of a finger, generate hundreds of versions to get to your final result. Additionally, It is possible to automate tedious tasks, such as naming layers, as well as accelerate UX writing with automatic translation. Figma’s new feature release absolutely confirms Patrick to be right!

Config 2024 highlight: Figma Slide

Figma Slides is going to change the deck’s game

Figma put out a bigger AI update than expected this year. The message, which Dylan Field confirmed, is that AI will not be replacing human work but that people and AI should work together and that creativity is at the center of this symbiosis. It’s all about accelerating and improving the designer’s workflow, getting rid of repetitive, time-consuming and tedious tasks so that creatives can concentrate on what’s important: creating. But if we have to speak about features, then Figma Slides (or Flides) really killed the game. 

You can now build truly interactive designs, embedding Figma prototypes, which is a game-changer for startups presenting their software or showcasing their app’s latest update. Figma Slides with integrated AI assists you when creating content; choosing the tone of voice. Of course, it incorporates Figma’s collaborative approach, leveraging interactive features similar to Figjam (such as voting) and, thereby, allowing for the creation of truly stunning visuals. For years at ENNOstudio we’ve been building decks and presentations on Google Slides, PowerPoint, Keynote and Pitch, without being fully satisfied with either the collaborative possibilities or the creative freedom. So we hope that Figma Slides delivers on the promise we witnessed in San Francisco.

Virtual reality: Turning lifelike interaction into life-size experiences

Once again – via two design evangelists Mike Stern and Linda Dong – Apple delivered on their keynote and pulled a perfect show out of the hat with great storytelling and impeccable visuals. Their talk promoted Vision Pro and as designers it’s always refreshing to see interface evolution. As they put it, with spatial design the user will be at the middle of the software, not outside of it. Spatial interface is all about depth (obviously) and expanding the interface into an infinite canvas, which offers designers a new perspective on responsive design: scaling experiences to full-size. 

Apple keynote on vision pro interface at config 2024

Dealing with design changes in big corporations

As we deal with big European companies, United’s talk on design change (and change design) with Figma’s adoption at a company resonated particularly with us. Change, such as migration from one design software (Sketch) to another, is not only technical and operational in nature, it’s foremost a human endeavor. People have different expectations: from first-world problems to a deeply rooted fear of change, so in order to get a team to successfully adopt Figma, all aspects of the process have to be considered. United also advised us to dedicate resources to that exercise (use external help), make a detailed plan and, lastly, said that we should not expect to avoid manual work when it comes to rebuilding components.

It was insightful to hear how a big company that deals with more than 100 products and two different design systems (for consumer-facing products and internal) copes with change. The storytelling skills of Jessica DeJong, and Derrick Wilkinson were much appreciated and made us feel as if we were in the plane cabin. 

Challenging design system fanaticism

There were many great talks on design systems but one in particular struck a chord: the broken promises of design systems. Not only does Cam Worboys have an amazing track record (Cash app, Wise, Beats by Dre and Apple, etc) but he can also deliver a well-structured presentation with stunning visuals. In a nutshell, he challenged the accepted advantages of the design system: speed, consistency and quality:

Cam explores design systems' core promises, identifying where they fall short and exploring ways to improve. Leveraging his experiences at Wise, Beats, and Cash App, Cam will share examples, advice, and stories on creating world-class design systems.
Cam challenges design systems' core promises
  • Speed is not always a good thing. Great ideas never start with a system. Sometimes you have to break free from the existing system to be truly innovative. Speed should never come at the cost of great ideas
  • Consistency is coming at the cost of commoditization. All brands end up looking similar and sometimes it is good to be deliberately different. What’s different is often what’s most remembered. Strive for consistency without commodification.
  • Quality is not always synonymous with systems; a design system can’t prevent bad decisions. Components are not enough if the people don’t know how to use the system. Better quality is the result of clear vision, great ingredients and coherent decisions. Give teams the recipe for using the design system, not just the ingredients.

Learn to design for yourself

The closing talk from Jesper Kouthoofd, Teenage Engineering CEO & Founder, was rather unorthodox. Figma’s CEO asked him questions on building inspirational products and leading a design studio and the answers were…surprising. For one, Jesper doesn’t believe in user testing because he argues that it is a group decision and that meanstoo many cooks in the kitchen – he rather believes in doing meaningful stuff just by yourself. This is definitely something interesting to take on board if you want to create truly unique products that can’t be replicated by generic designers or even AI. This view is matched by his idea of hiring people by instinct: “One day a guy knocked on our door and now he is our Head of Development.” He also had an interesting yet ambiguous take on AI. He wants to have a model leveraging his family data, so that an AI could create something that fits the mindset and creativity of his family. 

Figma CEO Dylan Field and Teenage Engineering CEO & Founder, Jesper Kouthoofd as they discuss the process of building inspiring products for the world while providing a behind-the-scenes look at the work currently taking place at Teenage Engineering.
Jesper Koufhoofd's impressive design track-record grants him the privilege of a certain brutal honesty in his responses

We are in this together

On top of the great talks, it was really the quality of the attendees and the coming together of a like-minded community of 10,000 people that was truly wonderful. We had the opportunity to talk with CMO Sheila about how a design studio like ours can actually accelerate design literacy at European firms. We also met talented design leaders from SAP, HelloFresh, BPI France, Eding, Blinkist, and many other innovative companies. The cherry on top of the cake though? We got to visit Figma’s office. A big shout out to Nicolas Lippmann for making that happen, it meant a lot to us Figma heads.

Config 2024 was a unique gathering of creative people who can provide another perspective, insights and, above all, inspiration. If you want to hear more or exchange the insights you got from the event, then please do get in touch!

team discussing design and innovation at ENNOstudio

We are a design and innovation studio creating engaging, accessible digital experiences for everyone. Our team of product designers and strategic consultants combine beautiful design and creative strategies to build and promote user interfaces that make a real difference to people’s lives.

Coming Soon!

We can’t disclose any information regarding this project for now. If you want to be sure not to miss it when we publish it, drop us an email