Jiani Zeng

Specialized in Jewelry Design.

Jiani Zeng

About Jiani Zeng

  • Winner of 5 A' Design Awards.
  • Specialized in Jewelry Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Jewelry
  • Disposable Product
  • Packaging
  • Kitchenware
  • 3D Printing
Glasses Plus Interchangeable Cover Frame

Glasses Plus Interchangeable Cover Frame

Jewelry Design

Tag Tag Mark disposable cups

Tag Tag Mark disposable cups

Disposable Product Design

Dual Zero waste

Dual Zero waste

Packaging Design

Luna Sauce Dish

Luna Sauce Dish

Kitchenware Design

Unream Voxel Printed Lamp

Unream Voxel Printed Lamp

3D Printing Design


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Interview with Jiani Zeng

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I'm an Industrial Designer by training and I went to MIT exploring design with the newest technology. More specifically, I want to explore design beyond current manufacturing methods, such as multi-material 3D printing, soft robotics and etc.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
My partner Honghao Deng and I started our design studio "Illusory Material" in 2019, research on creating "impossible" materials in a controlled manner, with computation and multi-material voxel printing. We envision a future where designers can manipulate the color, texture, and reflectivity of materials across time and different viewing angles.
What is "design" for you?
Design is about exploring new opportunities beyond the limit of current manufacturing and materials, imagine freely, and create freely.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
3D printed objects/artifacts; technology-driven products; AI & IoT product; new material-based product.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
My recent project "illusory Material" - exploring "impossible material" with unique material expression using 3D multi-material printing.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
Uniqueness. I want to be a designer who creates a new design domain/methodology.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
The future of design should not be fixed by design thinking or any fixed guidelines. Design is about user but also about designers themselves, be selfish and design freely.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
Not Design thinking bullshit for sure. I don't have one. I create and invent.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
Positive: if you like it, you will love your life. Neg: always desperate.

Designer of the Day Interview with Jiani Zeng

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
As an industrial designer, engineer and researcher working in the intersection of consumer product design and technology, my work explores new design opportunities beyond the limit of current manufacturing and materials like soft robotics, multi-material 3D printing etc. My work has been recognized in top international design awards like Red Dot Design Concept, International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), Golden A’ Design Award etc. My design has been featured in the Milan Design Week, CHI, Artsthread, italianbark, LUXOS and IDSA. I have consulted and designed for multiple companies, including Seymourpowell, Hilti, Furrytail, MIT Design Lab and MIT Media Lab, not only helping them successfully deliver products from initial concept to final product launch but also looking at future design trends and brand strategy. I have a BEng in Product Design and Manufacture from the University of Nottingham and a Master of Science in Integrated Design and Management (IDM) from MIT. Now I am a Co-founder and Executive Director of Product Design at Butlr. Technologies and Radical Department Inc., my startup and studio are based in San Francisco.
How did you become a designer?
Let me be very honest...it was about 9 years ago, as a Chinese high school graduate, I have no idea what I was going to do and I didn't know what is industrial design. that time I was really into photography, one day I saw a picture of a camera, Leica M6, the classic one with blue leather skin, I got hooked... it was the last day I had to decide my major, so I went through the list - I choose the one looks like it - product design. It was the best coincident and i feel it's destiny.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
Most of my work explores design opportunities in associate with new technology. I like creating new materials from bits and atoms. Like my work "illusory material", my partner Honghao and I invented a computational workflow to create material that cannot be made with any traditional manufacturing method. I believe computation and technology will play a big part in how designer designs.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
50% very depressed, I got stuck in the design process easily. And I always look for a perfect design solution. 30% I feel intense. It makes me think fast. 20% I feel relieving and thriving.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
Design freely and don't get stuck in 'Design thinking'.
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
Now I read a lot in Technology review and some academic conferences.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
A good design should be inspiring, it extends people's imagination.
What is your biggest design work?
Illusory Material. It envisions the future of industrial design with multi-material 3D printing. "Illusory Material" is a computational workflow that allows every designer to play with CMF or even material properties that never existed before in the design process, creating dream-like material and apply them into real-world product design. This project is an envision of future design methodology using computation power with the most advanced 3D printing technology in the world: multi-material voxel printing. Imagine designing everyday products with "impossible" materials that only exist in the digital world; Imagine a future where designers can manipulate the color, texture, and reflectivity of materials across time and different viewing angles; Imagine the future of color creation is not based on layers of chemical paints, but a combination with optical 3D printed optical lenses and simple color blocks; imagine a physical material can display dynamically by itself without electronic input; imagine an invisible object that is informative, a hard object that feels soft....
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
I have the best partner in the world: Honghao Deng. We combine our knowledge in industrial design and architecture. Finding a good partner is the key factor to get success in design.

Extended Interview with Jiani Zeng

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I'm an industrial designer, engineer and researcher working in the intersection of consumer product design and technology. My work explores new design opportunities beyond the limit of current manufacturing and materials like soft robotics, multi-material 3D printing etc. My work has been recognized in top international design awards like Red Dot Design Concept, International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), Golden A’ Design Award etc. My design has been featured in Milan Design Week, CHI, Artsthread, italianbark, LUXOS, and IDSA. I has consulted and designed for multiple companies, including Seymourpowell, Hilti, Furrytail, MIT Design Lab and MIT Media Lab, not only helping them successfully deliver products from initial concept to final product launch but also looking at future design trends and brand strategy. I hold a BEng in Product Design and Manufacture from the University of Nottingham and a Master of Science in Integrated Design and Management (IDM) from MIT. Currently, I am a Co-founder and Executive Director of Product Design at Butlr. Technologies and Radical Department Inc., my startup and studio is based in San Francisco.
How did you become a designer?
I want to equip every industrial designer the ability to manipulate design from the material creation level and from bits and atoms, instead of being limited by conventional material selection and production. I hope every designer can see "object skin" as separate entities for creation, instead of a uniform material surface that can only be chosen from limited collections. I believe only when those "creators" of products think freely that the general users can experience differently from each product.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
Let me be very honest...it was about 9 years ago, as a Chinese high school graduate, I have no idea what i was going to do and I din't know what is industrial design. that time I was really into photography, one day I saw a picture of a camera, Leica M6, the classic one with blue leather skin, I got hooked... it was the last day I had to decide my major, so i went through the list - i choose the one looks like it - product design. It was the best coincident and i feel it's destiny.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
I hope to blur the line between the digital and physical world, bringing "impossible" materials to real-world product design. With the newest fabrication technology and computational power such as multi-material printing, 4D printing, soft robotics, we can embed information into three-dimensional matter (voxel), expanding binary material presence to dynamic material experience in everyday products. Imagine a physical material can display dynamically by itself without electronics; Imagine the future of color creation is not based on layers of chemical paints, but a combination with optical 3D printed optical lenses and simple color blocks; imagine an invisible object that is informative, a hard object that feels soft.... I want to change the world by bringing these amazing digital experiences into the physical world we live in.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
Good design should be inspiring, it shows you what the future will be like, it leads your imagination.
What is your day to day look like?
My first step would be introducing my vision and research outcome "illusory material" ([https://www.illusorymaterial.com/](https://www.illusorymaterial.com/)) to the designers' world - I want to equip every industrial designer the ability to manipulate design from the material creation level and from bits and atoms, instead of being limited by conventional material selection and production. I hope every designer can see "object skin" as separate entities for creation, instead of a uniform material surface that can only be chosen from limited collections. I believe only when those "creators" of products think freely that the general users can experience differently from each product. Secondly, I hope to blur the line between the digital and physical world, bringing "impossible" materials to real-world product design. With the newest fabrication technology and computational power such as multi-material printing, 4D printing, soft robotics, we can embed information into three-dimensional matter (voxel), expanding binary material presence to dynamic material experience in everyday products. Imagine a physical material can display dynamically by itself without electronics; Imagine the future of color creation is not based on layers of chemical paints, but a combination with optical 3D printed optical lenses and simple color blocks; imagine an invisible object that is informative, a hard object that feels soft.... I want to change the world by bringing these amazing digital experiences into the physical world we live in.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
I've been asked this question for many time, I can't find a good answer. subjectively, design is my life, I don't know what I can do besides design.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
My instructors at MIT, Matt Kressy, Axel Kilian, Stefanie Mueller.

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