One of this year’s FBTB partners is the digital product design agency, Belka. We had a chat with their CEO, and had a laugh about how you can talk to him about pizza, but mainly what he has to say about another favourite subject – design systems. Let’s hear it out!
Hi Giulio, tell us a little bit about Belka!
– Have you seen the Hercules movie? Well, we’re like Phil — a magical helper for digital product teams. But here’s the adult answer: we’re an Italian digital product design agency, based in Trento and Torino. And we help companies connect the dots between design, development, and business.
Italian design history is very rich. What’s the state of digital product design?
– Well, it's not as glamorous as Gucci or Dolce & Gabbana to be completely frank. But we’re growing fast, and we’ve got a few unicorns, like YOOX, Scalapay, Satispay, and more. Apart from us, there are other very good agencies — Adoratorio and Illo, to name just two. There’s also Balsamiq, the prototyping tool many uses — named after Balsamico di Modena.
What are you working on these days?
– We’re really focused on design systems right now. We noticed a strong need for this tool in the companies we work with. For companies taking the leap from seed rounds to series A, with traction and capital for growth, design systems are the perfect tool to scale the design and development operations. We’ve seen it several times and we’re really excited about accelerating the process.
How does Belka approach projects? Is there a unique Belka way?
– I’d say that what makes us a little different is that we think less about design purely in terms of visual output — for us it’s become more about bringing people together to explore solutions and context, reaching a deep understanding of the problem that makes design decisions effortless. We’ve developed a battle-tested procedure to achieve “a-ha” moments, drawing inspiration from psychology, product design, anthropology, and more. Add some pizza to the mix, and I think you get a picture of how we work.
Why is Belka sponsoring FBTB?
– Mostly because we wanted an excuse to visit Sweden: We also wanted to discuss design systems with the FBTB audience. It's a great opportunity to start conversations and connect with others who share our interests. Stop and talk to us if you see us — we’re very friendly.
Which FBTB speakers are you excited about?
– So many! On the product side, I think Eva-Lotta Lamm’s talk about sketching user scenarios. As a CEO I'm 100 percent in for Anna Kirah on “Hope in the Era of Uncertainties.” And on a personal level, I would say Matthew Gallant — I'm a fan of video games and I'd love to get a glimpse of what his process looks like.