Interview with Yachu Feng from United States

Shuyi Liu | London Design Awards
Interview with Shuyi Liu from United States
January 24, 2024
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Yachu Feng

Yachu Feng is a renowned product designer known for crafting innovative designs that elevate user experiences. Feng's expertise has facilitated collaborations with leading universities and resulted in acclaim through numerous prestigious awards.

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

My name is Yachu Feng. I'm a distinguished product designer with an academic background from Tsinghua University and the Illinois Institute of Technology. My expertise lies in creating innovative designs that enhance user experiences. This proficiency has led to collaborations with top universities and recognition through prestigious awards.

At Round Feather, I have significantly contributed to projects for renowned clients like Google and Salesforce, and played a crucial role in developing the app 'Paven'. My work reflects a commitment to integrating thoughtful design with user needs.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

I chose to become a designer because of my passion for creating solutions that improve people's lives. The intersection of aesthetics, functionality, and psychology in design has always intrigued me. I find fulfillment in the challenge of translating complex problems into elegant, user-centric designs. My experiences, both academically and professionally, have reinforced my belief that good design can make a significant difference.

Whether it's alleviating patient anxiety in clinical settings or enhancing digital experiences, my goal is to craft designs that are not only visually appealing but also emotionally resonant and practically useful. This drive to impact people's daily experiences positively is what motivates my career as a designer.

3Tell us more about your agency/company, job profile, and what you do.

I am a lead product designer at Round Feather, a design consultancy that focuses on creating holistic, user-centered solutions. My role involves a dynamic blend of creativity and strategy, where I lead and collaborate on projects for high-profile clients like Capital Group, Dell, Google, Meta, and Salesforce.

My primary responsibilities include conducting user research, developing design concepts, and overseeing the execution of these concepts into functional and aesthetically pleasing products. A significant part of my work also involves mentoring junior designers and fostering a collaborative team environment.

One of my notable contributions is the development of the app 'Paven', which showcases my commitment to integrating innovative design with practical usability. At Round Feather, we believe in the power of design to drive positive change, and my role is pivotal in transforming this belief into tangible outcomes.

4What does “design” mean to you?

To me, design is a powerful tool for communication and problem-solving. It transcends mere aesthetics, embodying a process that combines creativity with practicality to meet user needs and improve daily experiences. Design is about understanding and empathy, where we delve into the users' world to create solutions that are not just visually appealing but also intuitive and functional. It's a bridge between technology and humanity, aiming to make the complex simple and the ordinary extraordinary.

Design, in essence, is a reflection of human thought and ingenuity, striving to make the world a better, more accessible, and more delightful place.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

My favourite kind of design is user-centric or user experience (UX) design. It holds a special place in my heart because it places the user's needs, emotions, and experiences at the core of the design process. UX design is all about crafting solutions that make people's lives easier, more enjoyable, and more efficient.

What I find most appealing about UX design is the human-centric approach. It involves empathising with users, understanding their pain points, and designing with the goal of solving real-world problems. Whether it's designing a mobile app, a website, or a physical product, the user's journey and satisfaction are paramount.

The iterative nature of UX design is also fascinating. It encourages constant refinement and improvement based on user feedback and evolving technologies. This dynamic aspect keeps me engaged and ensures that my work is always evolving and adapting to meet changing needs.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

To me, a "good" design is one that seamlessly blends form and function, transcending the boundaries of aesthetics and usability. It's a design that not only captivates the senses with its visual appeal but also enhances the user's experience and solves a particular problem. In essence, a good design is a harmonious marriage of creativity and purpose.

First and foremost, a good design is user-centred. It begins with a deep understanding of the end users—their desires, needs, and pain points. This empathy-driven approach ensures that the design is not just visually pleasing but also functional and intuitive. A good design anticipates user behaviors and effortlessly guides them through a product or experience, leaving them with a sense of satisfaction.

Furthermore, a good design demonstrates clarity and simplicity. It communicates its purpose effectively without unnecessary complexity. It's like a well-crafted piece of music that flows naturally, guiding the listener on a journey. A good design also considers the broader context, including environmental impact and accessibility, making it inclusive and responsible.

7How did you come up with the idea for your award-winning design?

The idea for the award-winning Stardust Weaver app was born from a deep recognition of the profound emotional challenges that come with pet loss. It aimed to fill a crucial gap in emotional support by providing a comprehensive platform for individuals navigating grief.

The core concept revolved around creating an empathetic and inclusive space where users could find solace and healing. Drawing inspiration from scientific research, the app incorporated evidence-based content to guide users through their grief journey.

One of the unique aspects of the app was the use of innovative metaphors, such as connecting lost pets to stars. This metaphorical approach added a layer of emotional depth and comfort to the experience, allowing users to find symbolism and meaning in their loss.

8What was your main source of inspiration for this design?

Scientific research on grief and emotional healing provided valuable insights and evidence-based content that informed the design. This research served as a foundation for understanding the emotional journey that users go through during pet loss and how best to support them.

Furthermore, the use of innovative metaphors, such as linking lost pets to stars, was inspired by the desire to provide users with meaningful and comforting ways to cope with their grief. These metaphors added a unique and symbolic dimension to the design, allowing users to find solace in their connection to the cosmos.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

Yes, my country, China, and its rich cultural heritage have a significant impact on my design process. China's cultural heritage is a deep well of inspiration that influences my approach to design in various ways.

One aspect is the emphasis on harmony and balance in traditional Chinese culture. This philosophy finds its way into my designs, where I strive to create balanced and harmonious compositions that are visually pleasing and calming to the user. It's about finding equilibrium between aesthetics and functionality.

Additionally, Chinese culture places a strong emphasis on holistic well-being, including practices like meditation, Tai Chi, and traditional Chinese medicine. These cultural elements have informed my approach to designing for emotional and mental well-being. I draw upon the principles of balance and mindfulness to create designs that promote a sense of tranquility and balance in the user's experience.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the London Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Winning the London Design Awards is a tremendous honour and a source of immense pride for me, my company, and my entire team. It represents not only recognition for our hard work and creativity but also validation of our commitment to innovative and user-centred design.

For me personally, this award signifies a milestone in my career, reaffirming my dedication to creating designs that make a positive impact on people's lives. It's a testament to the power of empathetic and thoughtful design in enhancing human well-being.

For my company, Round Feather, and our team, it is a collective achievement that demonstrates our capability to deliver exceptional design solutions for our clients. It boosts our reputation and credibility in the industry, opening doors to exciting opportunities and collaborations.

Moreover, the London Design Awards serves as motivation for our team to continue pushing the boundaries of design excellence. It encourages us to maintain our focus on creating designs that not only meet but exceed expectations, always putting the user's experience at the forefront.

In essence, receiving this award is a source of inspiration and a reminder of the impact that exceptional design can have on individuals and society as a whole. It fuels our passion for design and encourages us to strive for even greater heights in our future endeavours.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 London Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The winning work that was entered into the London Design Awards was the "Stardust Weaver" app, a project aimed at addressing the emotional challenges of pet loss. This app provided users with a comprehensive and empathetic platform to navigate their grief journey after losing a beloved pet.

The decision to enter this project into the London Design Awards was driven by several factors:

Impactful purpose: The project addressed a significant and often overlooked emotional need—support for individuals dealing with pet loss. Pets are cherished members of many families, and their loss can be emotionally devastating. We believed that the app could make a meaningful difference in people's lives by providing them with tools and support during this difficult time.

Innovative approach: The Stardust Weaver app employed innovative metaphors and advanced AI technology to offer a unique and personalised experience. We recognised that this innovative approach set the project apart and made it worthy of recognition.

Human-centred design: The project was deeply rooted in human-centred design principles. It was designed to be inclusive, accessible, and empathetic, ensuring that it catered to a diverse user base and provided genuine emotional support.

12What were the main challenges you faced during the design process, and how did you overcome them?


Creating a personalised experience for each user presented a technical challenge. The app needed to provide tailored journaling plans and content based on each user's unique situation and emotional state. Advanced AI algorithms were employed to analyse user input and provide customised recommendations, addressing this challenge effectively.


Ensuring that the app was inclusive and accessible to a diverse user base was a priority. The team focused on designing an intuitive user interface with clear navigation and readability. Accessibility features, such as voice commands and screen readers, were integrated to accommodate users with disabilities.

Metaphor design

The use of metaphors, such as connecting lost pets to stars, required careful consideration to strike the right balance between symbolism and practicality. Iterative design and user feedback helped refine these metaphors to ensure they resonated with users and provided genuine comfort.

13How do you think winning this award will impact your future as a designer?

Recognition and credibility: Winning a prestigious design award adds a significant level of recognition and credibility to my portfolio. It demonstrates my ability to create impactful and innovative designs, which can attract potential clients and collaborators.

Networking opportunities: Awards often come with invitations to industry events, conferences, and design forums. These networking opportunities can lead to valuable connections with fellow designers, industry experts, and potential clients or employers.

Increased visibility: Award-winning designs tend to garner media attention and press coverage. This increased visibility can lead to more opportunities and a broader reach for my work.

Boost in confidence: Winning an award can boost my confidence as a designer, reaffirming that my creative and problem-solving abilities are at a high level. This confidence can translate into more ambitious and successful design projects in the future.

14What are your top three (3) favourite things about our industry?

Creativity and innovation: The design industry is a playground for creativity and innovation. It allows designers to explore new ideas, experiment with different styles, and push the boundaries of what's possible. The constant quest for fresh and innovative solutions keeps the industry exciting and dynamic.

Problem-solving: Design is inherently problem-solving. It's deeply satisfying to tackle complex challenges and find elegant solutions that improve people's lives. The ability to make a tangible impact through design is one of the most rewarding aspects of the industry.

Human-centric approach: Human-centric approach: Design places people at the center of the process. It's all about understanding and empathising with users, which leads to the creation of designs that resonate with people on a profound level. The focus on human experiences and well-being is a fundamental and admirable aspect of the design industry.

15What sets your design apart from others in the same category?

The app places a strong emphasis on emotional empathy, understanding that pet loss is a deeply personal and emotional experience. It offers users a safe and empathetic space to navigate their grief, fostering a sense of genuine support and understanding.

The use of innovative metaphors, such as linking lost pets to stars, sets the design apart by providing users with a unique and symbolic way to find comfort and meaning in their loss. This metaphorical approach adds a layer of emotional depth to the experience.

The app offers highly personalised journaling plans and content recommendations based on each user's unique situation and emotional state. This level of personalisation ensures that users receive tailored support that resonates with their individual needs.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

Over the next 5-10 years, I foresee several exciting developments and trends in the design industry:

Sustainability will continue to be a central focus in the design industry. Designers will increasingly prioritise eco-friendly materials, processes, and solutions. The integration of sustainable practices into design will become the norm, reflecting society's growing awareness of environmental issues.

The digital landscape will continue to evolve rapidly, influencing design across various mediums. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) will become more integrated into design projects, offering immersive and interactive experiences. The design of digital interfaces will also become more intuitive and user-centric.

Design will become even more inclusive and accessible. There will be a stronger emphasis on designing for diverse audiences, including people with disabilities. Inclusivity will not be an afterthought but a fundamental aspect of the design process.

Data analytics and user insights will play a more significant role in design decision-making. Designers will leverage data to better understand user behaviors and preferences, leading to more personalised and effective designs.

17What advice do you have for aspiring designers who want to create award-winning designs?

Develop a strong foundation: Start by building a solid foundation in design principles and techniques. This includes mastering tools and software relevant to your field, understanding color theory, typography, and layout, and gaining proficiency in user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design if applicable.

Learn continuously: Design is an ever-evolving field. Stay curious and committed to lifelong learning. Keep up with industry trends, attend workshops, webinars, and conferences, and read design books and blogs. Be open to new ideas and technologies.

Practice, practice and practice: Design is a skill that improves with practice. Create personal projects, take on freelance work, or participate in design competitions. The more you design, the more you refine your skills and develop your unique style.

Seek feedback: Don't be afraid to share your work and seek feedback from peers, mentors, and professionals in the field. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your designs.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

Improving skills in the design industry requires access to valuable resources for learning and inspiration. Here are some recommended resources:

Online courses and tutorials:

Websites like Coursera, edX, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer a wide range of design courses, from beginner to advanced levels. YouTube has numerous design channels where experts share tutorials and tips on various design software and techniques.

Design books

- "The Non-Designer's Design Book" by Robin Williams is an excellent starting point for beginners.

- "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug is a must-read for UX/UI designers.

- "The Elements of Typographic Style" by Robert Bringhurst is a classic for typography enthusiasts.

Design blogs and magazines:

Follow design blogs like Smashing Magazine, A List Apart, and Creative Bloq for articles, tutorials, and design inspiration. Subscribe to design magazines like Communication Arts and Print for industry insights and case studies.

Design communities:

Join design communities on platforms like Behance, Dribbble, and Designspiration to connect with other designers, showcase your work, and get feedback. Participate in design forums like Stack Exchange's Graphic Design Stack Exchange for discussions and problem-solving.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

Before diving into a design challenge, I often take a moment to immerse myself in nature, whether it's a walk in the park, a hike in the woods, or simply sitting by a lake. I find that connecting with the natural world helps me clear my mind, find inspiration, and approach the project with a fresh perspective.

During these moments in nature, I observe patterns, colors, textures, and the way elements interact with each other. It's a form of mindfulness that allows me to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the world around us. I often carry a small notebook to jot down ideas or sketches that come to mind during these outings.

This ritual not only serves as a source of inspiration but also helps me stay grounded and connected to the broader context of design, which ultimately enriches my creative process. It's a personal practice that reminds me of the profound influence that the natural world can have on design aesthetics and solutions.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

In my life, I've been inspired by several individuals for various reasons, and their influence has shaped my journey as a designer:

Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams, a renowned industrial designer, has been a significant source of inspiration for his minimalist and functional design philosophy. His "less is more" approach and focus on user-centred design have had a profound impact on my own design principles.

Jony Ive

Jony Ive, former Chief Design Officer at Apple, has inspired me with his ability to merge aesthetics and functionality seamlessly. His work on iconic Apple products showcases the power of design in creating user-friendly and visually appealing technology.


Nature itself has been a constant source of inspiration. The beauty, diversity, and intricate patterns found in the natural world remind me of the importance of balance, harmony, and sustainability in design.

My peers

I'm inspired by my fellow designers and colleagues who are passionate about their craft. Collaborating with them and witnessing their creative processes and innovative solutions continually motivates me to strive for excellence.


I've had mentors throughout my career who have provided guidance, shared their wisdom, and encouraged me to explore new horizons in design. Their mentorship has been invaluable.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

The key to success in design, in my experience, is a combination of several essential factors:

Passion: Be genuinely passionate about design. Let your love for creating and problem-solving drive your work. When you're passionate, it's easier to stay motivated and continually seek improvement.

Curiosity: Stay curious and open-minded. Design is an ever-evolving field, and curiosity leads to exploration, learning, and the discovery of new possibilities.

Empathy: Develop a deep sense of empathy for the end-users of your designs. Understand their needs, frustrations, and aspirations. This empathy will guide you in creating solutions that truly resonate with people.

Hard work: Design can be demanding, but hard work and dedication pay off. Put in the time and effort to refine your skills and deliver outstanding work.

22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?

I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to share my insights and experiences in this interview. Design is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, and I'm continually inspired by the possibilities it offers for creativity, problem-solving, and making a positive impact.

I also want to encourage aspiring designers to pursue their passion with dedication and to embrace the journey of growth and learning. Design has the power to shape the world around us, and every designer has the potential to contribute to meaningful and innovative solutions.

Lastly, I'd like to extend my appreciation to the design community, mentors, colleagues, and all those who have been a part of my journey. Collaboration and support from others are invaluable in the world of design, and I'm grateful for the opportunities to learn and grow together.

Thank you for this interview, and I look forward to seeing how the design industry continues to evolve and inspire in the years to come.

Winning Entries

Stardust Weaver
| 2023

Stardust Weaver | Shuyi Liu and Yachu Feng

Stardust Weaver: A Pet Loss Healing App. Stardust Weaver is an innovative software designed to assist individuals … (Read more at London Design Awards)

Airsphere - Emotion Support Board Game | 2023

AirSphere - Emotion Support Board Game | Shuyi Liu and Yachu Feng

In our rapidly evolving society, we face a myriad of interconnected problems that impact our individual well-being, communities … (Read more at London Design Awards)

Yachu Feng

Yachu Feng is a renowned product designer known for crafting innovative designs that elevate user experiences. Feng's expertise has facilitated collaborations with leading universities and resulted in acclaim through numerous prestigious awards.

Read more about this interview with Shuyi Liu from the United States, the Gold Winner of the 2023 London Design Awards.