Product Designer at Airbnb
Angela
Li

Angela is a product designer based in New York. Originally from Toronto, Ontario— she loves writing about light and romance.

New York, United States • April 30, 2021

What led you into design?

I grew up in an academic environment where I felt like intelligence had a pretty rigid definition that didn't include any of what I was interested in. I loved to make— I painted, sketched, molded clay, developed film, sewed textiles, and wrote poetry which really didn't have a place in the education that I was surrounded by. I remember asking the guidance councellor at my high school what career paths that I might have following what I loved and I was greeted with a very blank stare.

I was incredibly lucky to have met a good friend of mine at a volunteer event where he introduced me to the York/Sheridan Design program that he was attending at the time. I applied shortly after and by so much luck, I was accepted. YSDN is where I learned to appreciate traditional design history, embraced fundamentals, and honed my voice as a designer.

What does a typical day look like?

In the age of remote work, I am able to be in New York while my team is based in San Francisco. This means that I work west coast hours in east coast time, giving me a few hours in the morning. A typical day involves getting up early to have a bit of breakfast then doing a small workout. Following that, I visit the ice rink nearby and practice some figure skating. When I'm finished, I come home and prepare a lunch before signing online.

My work day starts by checking all my notifications and looking over my calendar to prepare for my upcoming meetings. Most days, I will have several team and project meetings then some focus time for design work. On the good days, I have a big cup of matcha and some casual 1:1s. When the sun sets around 5pm, I switch on my ring light to continue my meetings into the evening. I usually sign off around 8pm.

What’s your workstation setup?

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Where do you go to get inspired?

I am heavily inspired by the people that I work with on daily basis. I have been so fortunate to work alongside some amazing designers and be able to participate in their processes. As well, I am consistently inspired by the teams I've been a part of (PM, engineering, data, research, design, content, and more) for sharing their mastery and craft with such kindness and vulnerability. I am truly in awe of all the lovely people that have opened their thoughts to me, and that will always be my biggest inspiration.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

I absolutely adore Florence (the app). It is an interactive love story that beautifully captures the feeling of magic, wonder, and heartbreak. Every moment in this app is a piece of art that is thoughtfully crafted to evoke the tenderness in your heart. Not to mention, the score in this game is breathtaking too.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

In 2019, I joined the One Day's Wages team in Seattle to aid in their mission of alleviating extreme poverty. I signed on as a digital designer working on projects with their communications team. One of my favorite projects was this zine-style annual report. The team gave me a lot of creative freedom and we ended up with a really wonderful final product.

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For product design work, I am really happy with the redesign of Facebook profile. We were able to take a decade-old product and completely reimagine it to be more accessible, more predictable, and more responsive for the millions of users that rely on it to communicate with their friends and family.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

The design challenges have varied a great deal depending on where I've worked. Right now, I might be too new (one month in) to speak confidently on the ones pertaining specifically to Airbnb.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Find love in everything that you do. There is always a way to be more tender, more thoughtful, and bring a little more light into this world. Find love in the journey, the hardships, and the people. It will do your heart so much good to always find something to love.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

If you want to be friends, you can find me on Twitter (@hiangelali), I sometimes share life happenings and photos on Instagram (@angela), I also write words and poetry in my journal (liangela.com/journal).