Backstage Talks 7
Delivered to Stack subscribers in  May 2023

by Steve Watson in June 2023
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A magazine that mixes design and business, Backstage Talks reflects the conversations that take place backstage and in the bar at Bratislava’s By Design conference each summer. This seventh issue is themed ‘Empathy for Sale’, and it reflects on what empathy means in design, and how it should be valued. And the long Urban Talks section explores architecture, urbanism and the challenge of developing cities to make places where people want to live.

Zuzana Kvetková

Job title
Executive editor

What is Backstage Talks?
A collection of dialogues and essays on design, business and social responsibility published every year in Bratislava.

What makes it different to the rest?
We make the magazine alongside the By Design conference and that gives us the opportunity to have honest conversations with our world-famous and otherwise very busy speakers. On top of that, we comission or interview other experts related to the topic of the issue. We talk about their thinking, approach and experience in the industry, rather than specific projects. And since the magazine only comes out once a year, we make sure the content could still be valuable in five or 10 years.

Who makes Backstage Talks?
Backstage Talks is published by Büro Milk. The editorial team is Martin Jenča and I, and we work with in-house and freelance designers to give it a beautiful form. This year we worked with an American editorial designer Chloe Scheffe and we love how it turned out!

Who reads it?
Designers, strategists, creative entrepreneurs, and design enthusiasts around the world. We now have a distributor, but back when we were sending the magazines out ourselves, it was always exciting to see how many orders were from countries we’ve never been to.

Why do you work in magazines?
I ended up here by a happy accident after I interned at Milk during my first year of uni. Martin has always been a big magazine fan and the next year, we were already working on the first issue. Working on the magazine gives me a chance to lead meaningful conversations with inspiring people, and that is still very exciting to me.

Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
I work as a freelance editor, so on many various projects! In the past year I edited the book Meanwhile City; I helped Hikemates magazine with their English edition, so they can reach more readers; and I am currently working on a naming project for a chimney sweep company and an art book translation. I am also involved in organizing the By Design conference.

What would you change about Backstage Talks if you could?
Some of our interviewees have to send the interviews to their PR teams for approval and the spark of the conversation can sometimes be lost in the process. I wish that wasn’t the case!

Where do you see Backstage Talks in five years?
The By Design conference is ending after its 10th year in 2024, so we have some decisions to make regarding the future of the magazine, too. Anything could happen!

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