Designing for Impact: The Creative Journey of Yachu Feng

Q: Please 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 IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. 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 Capital Group, Dell, Google and Salesforce etc. and played a crucial role in developing the app ‘Paven’. My work reflects a commitment to integrating thoughtful design with user needs.

Q: What 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.

Q: What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on, and why?

Absolutely, the “Homeless Prevention in Chicago” initiative is deeply meaningful to me. It’s a project where I felt my design skills could truly contribute to social good. The chance to tackle such an urgent issue with strategic design and genuine community involvement was both a challenge and a privilege. This project really embodies my passion for using design as a force for positive change, blending my creative and empathetic sides to make a tangible difference. It’s a vivid reminder of the impact thoughtful design can have on society.

Q: How do you stay inspired and keep your designs fresh?

To keep my designs fresh and stay inspired, I immerse myself in the community and societal issues, focusing on projects that drive social change, like the “Homeless Prevention in Chicago.” Engaging with real-world problems and understanding diverse human experiences fuel my creativity and inform my design approach. I believe that staying connected to societal challenges and being open to new perspectives helps in generating innovative, impactful solutions. This approach not only keeps my work relevant but also deeply enriches my creative process.

Q: What is your biggest source of inspiration during the creative process?

My greatest source of inspiration comes from incorporating empathy and innovative techniques into design to address and reflect on social challenges and personal experiences. Projects like ‘AirSphere’ demonstrate this approach, combining design with deep emotional and environmental awareness to create meaningful and impactful experiences.

Q: Can you describe your creative process? How long does it usually take from conception to completion of a piece?

My creative process is deeply intertwined with emotional intelligence and technological innovation, focusing on societal impact. The duration from conception to completion varies based on the project’s complexity and scope. For instance, projects like “AirSphere” involved extensive research, design iteration, and user testing to ensure they effectively met our goals of emotional and environmental consciousness. Typically, this process can span from a few months to over a year, always prioritizing depth, impact, and meaningful engagement over speed.

Q: How do you stay updated with current trends and advancements in UX and product design, and how do these influence your work?

To keep my design skills sharp and innovative, I immerse myself in the latest UX and product design trends through workshops, community engagement, and devouring new research. It’s a bit like being a sponge, constantly absorbing what’s new and exciting. This habit of staying curious and connected directly influences my work, such as in “AirSphere,” where I blend the latest in emotional intelligence and tech to create designs that resonate on a deeper level with users. It’s about making sure my work not only looks good but feels right and stays relevant.

Q: In your projects, we see many elements that are closely connected with society. Can you tell us why you are interested in these elements?

Integrating societal elements into my projects, like in “Homeless Prevention in Chicago,” is driven by a commitment to use design as a tool for social change. The collaboration on the figure for the ”Communicating the External Beam Radiation Experience (CEBRE): Perceived Benefits of a Graphic Narrative Patient Education Tool“ study highlights the importance of visual communication in understanding and addressing social issues. This work, embodying both scientific and design principles, underlines my belief in the potential of design to make complex information accessible and to foster a deeper public engagement with critical societal challenges.

Q: What role does empathy play in your design process, especially when creating discussion guides for users in sensitive health situations?

Empathy is fundamental in my design process, especially for creating discussion guides in sensitive health situations. It allows me to approach design from a user-centered perspective, ensuring that the materials we create are respectful, understanding, and supportive of users’ emotional states. By deeply understanding the experiences and needs of those in sensitive health situations, I can craft guides that facilitate meaningful discussions, offering support and fostering a sense of community among users. This empathetic approach ensures the effectiveness and sensitivity of the tools we develop.

Q: How do you utilize your familiarity with various mediums in artistic creation?

Utilizing my familiarity with various mediums in artistic creation allows me to address and reflect on societal challenges and personal experiences innovatively. From digital platforms to physical board games, integrating design principles with emotional intelligence and environmental awareness enables me to craft impactful, engaging, and meaningful user experiences. This multidisciplinary approach enriches my work, making it not only visually appealing but also socially and emotionally resonant.

Q: Can you share an experience of a particularly successful collaboration with users or stakeholders and what you learned from it?

In the development of ‘AirSphere,’ a board game designed to deepen player connections with each other and their environment, I experienced the power of collaborative design. A player’s feedback highlighted the game’s ability to evoke a profound sense of release and engagement, reinforcing my belief in designing with empathy and innovation. This project underscored the importance of creating meaningful experiences that empower and energize users through their connections. It was a vivid reminder that successful design transcends aesthetics, embedding itself in the invaluable moments of human interaction and emotional resonance, guiding my approach to fuse practicality with profound user impact.

Q: Regarding the future, what are your plans in the realm of art?

My future endeavors in the art realm are aimed at further merging design with social innovation and emotional engagement, harnessing the synergy between technology and traditional art forms to challenge and redefine societal norms. I’m driven to create immersive, interactive experiences that not only delight aesthetically but also provoke thought and inspire action towards societal empathy and environmental sustainability. By blending design thinking with artistic expression, I aspire to craft impactful art that bridges communities, stimulates dialogue, and fosters a deeper connection with our world, marking my contribution towards a more understanding and connected society.

Q: What is your typical design process from initial concept to final product?

My design process starts with understanding the core problem or goal, followed by extensive research to gather insights and empathy for the target audience. This foundational work informs ideation, where I explore various creative solutions. Prototyping and user testing are crucial next steps, allowing for feedback and iterative refinements. Throughout, collaboration with stakeholders ensures alignment with project objectives. The process, from initial concept to final product, is dynamic and user-centered, always aiming to create impactful, meaningful designs that resonate with users and address their needs.

Q: How do you handle revisions and feedback during a project?

When I receive feedback or face revisions, it feels a bit like having a conversation with the project itself, where it tells me what it needs to be better. I listen carefully, absorb every suggestion, and then dive back into the creative process with a fresh perspective. It’s like solving a puzzle where each piece of feedback helps me see the picture more clearly. This iterative dance keeps me grounded and ensures that what I create truly resonates with those it’s meant for.

Q: What is your typical design process from the initial concept to the final product?

From understanding the core issue and empathizing with the target audience to brainstorming creative solutions, my design process is deeply iterative. I dive into prototyping and user testing early, refining the design based on feedback to ensure it aligns with user needs and project goals. Collaboration is key, allowing me to merge creative vision with practical insights, leading to a final product that’s not just visually appealing but also impactful and resonant with its intended audience.

Q: How do you gather requirements and feedback from clients or stakeholders?

I engage deeply with clients and stakeholders from the outset, prioritizing clear communication to understand their goals and needs fully. This involves asking targeted questions, listening carefully to their responses, and sometimes leading workshops to dive deeper into their requirements. As the project progresses, I seek continuous feedback through presentations, prototypes, and user testing sessions, ensuring the design evolves in alignment with their vision and the project’s objectives. This collaborative approach ensures the final product truly meets the needs and expectations of all involved.

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Company Name: Underground Art and Design
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Country: United States