Interview with Zhuyuan He from the United States

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Zhuyuan He

Zhuyuan He is a multidisciplinary product designer, interactive user experience architect, and creative technologist specializing in product innovation with emergent technologies. She is also the founder of HAI, a design and technology studio focused on digital product strategy, innovation, and development.

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

My name is Zhuyuan He and I am a multidisciplinary product designer, interactive user experience architect, and creative technologist who specializes in product innovation using emergent technologies. My work spans various industries such as finance, automotive, healthcare, e-commerce, and future technology, and has been showcased at top international conferences.

I am also the founder of HAI, a design and technology studio that focuses on digital product strategy, innovation, and development. I earned a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design in New York and a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems from the National University of Singapore. With this impressive educational background, I possess both technical expertise and artistic vision, making me uniquely qualified for complex projects that span multiple disciplines.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?
I grew up immersed in the world of Chinese traditional painting and art, studying under the guidance of renowned local artists in her hometown. Though I first started my professional career in technology in Singapore, I have always dreamed of exploring my creative interests in design and art. After several years of working as a software engineer, I made the decision to pursue her passion in design and art in New York City and later continue my design career in Silicon Valley, California.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

My unique talent lies in my ability to merge product design principles with technological expertise, effectively solving critical business challenges in inventive ways while having a significant global impact.

Throughout my distinguished professional career, I have focused on innovating product design solutions utilizing artificial intelligence across an array of industry sectors, which include: advanced automotive intelligent human-machine interface experiences, global trade, public health, sustainability, and social connections.

4What does “design” mean to you?
I believe that everyone is a designer in nature and design itself is a universal practice that happens in every industry, every job and every aspect of our life.
5To you, what makes a “good” design?

At an individual level, a great design, according to my opinion, establishes emotional bonds, conveys compelling stories, emphasizes ease of use, and maintains ethical standards without exploiting its consumers.

From a wider perspective, outstanding design breaks down physical and social divides, advocates for sustainability and transparency, articulates persuasive narratives and design visions, inspires creativity, and safeguards human dignity with empathy and concern for humankind.

6Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

I firmly contend that setting aside one's ego is the vital initial move prior to embarking upon any fresh initiative. Rather than instantly diving into refining aesthetics, I would prefer to fully absorb myself in comprehending user needs, meticulously charting information architecture, and continually assessing and updating the design based on user input.

In my opinion, a legitimate design remains robust solely if it consistently performs throughout every conceivable scenario, accounting for even the slightest exceptions.

7Tell us about your design process.

Nowadays, many digital design workflows adhere to conventional approach involving the production of static visuals and wireframes alongside limited interactive capabilities during user flow presentations.

However, I would go above and beyond these restrictions to craft dynamic and technically adept design experiences that incorporate actual data for rigorous testing. Evaluating design results diligently ensures each element addresses possible edge cases elegantly, further solidified by my holistic system philosophy.

Consequently, transitioning away from the customary linear waterfall model, I deploy an iterative and agile product design structure aimed at generating durable solutions.

8Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

Having traveled extensively to around twenty countries and lived in China, Singapore, Sweden, and the United States, my accumulated wealth of experiences enabled me to view situations from a plethora of angles and consider design applications with respect to users hailing from a wide variety of cultural and societal backgrounds.

This broad perspective enhances my capacity to deliver inclusive designs that cater to diverse audiences worldwide.

9Congratulations! As the winner of the 2024 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Winning the 2024 MUSE Design Award represents much more than just personal recognition!

It serves as a testament to my abilities within the broader context of the design landscape, reinforcing my commitment and contributions to the field. As for selecting this specific project to submit, its significance stems from the opportunity to highlight how my creative approach delivers meaningful value to end-users while pushing boundaries in design excellence. By entering this project, I aim to inspire fellow professionals and aspirants alike, fostering collaboration and growth within the design community.

10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2024 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

I am thrilled to share that my projects, Toucan and Sustainfulness, emerged victorious at the 2024 MUSE Design Awards. These wins carry profound meaning, reflecting my aspiration to ignite awareness and engagement surrounding crucial issues like inclusivity, global connectivity, and environmental responsibility.

Toucan, a web service and app, provides AI-enhanced consultancy resources explicitly tailored for micro and small businesses, as well as persons with visual or cognitive impairments. Its primary objective is simplifying access to essential global trade data, thereby equipping these entities with the knowledge required to thrive in the global marketplace. Entering Toucan into the competition served as a platform to amplify the conviction regarding equal opportunities for participation in global commerce.

11Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

Over the ensuing 5-10 years, the design sector faces inevitable changes driven by rapid advancements in technology, most notably Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Extended Reality (XR). To remain competitive, designers must embrace modular design methodologies and comprehensive systems strategies, ensuring flexibility and responsiveness when dealing with ever-evolving outcomes.

Additionally, developing proficiency in burgeoning tech realms presents stimulating yet demanding prospects for creators seeking novelty in product conceptualization and user experience enhancement. Exploring avenues where designers collaborate closely with experts in these emerging fields promises to yield unprecedented breakthroughs and valuable insights, shaping tomorrow's engaging landscapes today.

12What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

With mindfulness and curiosity, I cultivate a keen awareness towards the seemingly mundane facets of daily existence, ranging from picking up groceries, commuting to work, navigating airports, ordering meals via digital platforms, and visiting postal services. My innate fascination extends beyond these routine activities, engaging me in enlightening interactions with neighborhood merchants and passersby worldwide.

By immersing myself in diverse cultural environments and fostering connections with individuals from varying socioeconomic standpoints, I glean valuable insights into the organic symbiosis of human lives and relationships. Sharing these experiences and revelations with others further deepens my understanding and appreciation for the rich tapestry woven by our collective narratives.

Consequently, such encounters serve as abundant sources of inspiration for devising ingenious, empathetic designs that resonate deeply with those inhabiting our increasingly interconnected globe.

Winning Entries

Toucan | 2024

Toucan | Zhuyuan He

Sustainfulness | 2024

Zhuyuan He

Zhuyuan He

Zhuyuan He is a multidisciplinary product designer, interactive user experience architect, and creative technologist specializing in product innovation with emergent technologies. She is also the founder of HAI, a design and technology studio focused on digital product strategy, innovation, and development.

Read more about this interview with Tao Chen of TAO Design Studio, the Gold Winner of the 2024 MUSE Design Awards.