What led you into design?
I grew up in Hong Kong, a finance-centric metropolitan city, where design isn't a career option. I wasn't good in school (I failed 13 subjects in grade 9), nor I wasn't talented enough to be an artist. I thought I was destined to fail in life, or if I played my cards right, land a boring 9-to-5 desk job.
Although I wasn't a super talented artist, I've always enjoyed creating. As a kid, I loved play-dough, mixing vibrant colors until my masterpiece turned into a 💩 color. As a teenager, I enjoyed sketching mundane objects. My mother encouraged me to pursue a creative major in college because of my passion for art. I didn't know what design was, but every day, I'm thankful she supported my stubbornness and eventually led me to find Product Design.
(I know deep down she worried so much I'd end up a penniless, struggling artist. Phew, so lucky it all worked out, amirite?)
What does a typical day look like?
I am not an early bird, so my short commute nowadays gives me an extra 90 minutes of beauty rest.
My day starts around 9:30 am; I feed my dogs, stretch a little, and catch up on work messages. Around noon, I make lunch for my husband and myself, which sometimes includes an episode of the Bachelorette before my butt is stuck to my chair for the next six hours.
In COVID times, I share a generous 600 sq. ft. apartment/NY mansion/workplace with my husband. We play this game called "Whose Meeting is More Important?" The loser has to answer the UPS guy impatiently ringing our doorbell.
What’s your workstation setup?
Where do you go to get inspired?
As cliche as it sounds, I find inspiration at galleries and museums. Because I'm not especially strong with colors, I find myself drawn to pop art and mesmirized by the bold, simple hues.
Recently, I went to a KAWS exhibition at the Brooklyn Art Museum and bought a $25 KAWS limited edition t-shirt.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
Robinhood's normalization and humanization of stock purchasing is a mind-blowing design revolution. The app's quality is off the charts, and it's extremely easy to use. Robinhood has changed how people, myself included, look at finances, save, and plan for the future.
A less controversial choice would be Unfold, a creative app that has beautiful templates. It'll give your stories a major facelift.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
I have an on-and-off relationship with pottery. I recently started creating tumbler sets I love gifting to others.
Design-wise, I'm proud of a Logitech Smart Home project that never saw the light of day. 😭
And hopefully, I'll get to share what I'm working on at FRL with you guys soon. 🥺
What design challenges do you face at your company?
At big corporations, where it's easy to go unnoticed, self advocacy is a required skill. As an Asian woman, I'm uncomfortable bragging about my work or asking for recognition. It's a big part of my culture to be humble and stay out of the spotlight. But just like any skills, self advocacy is a muscle I learned to build at Facebook. It's always good to acknowledge your worth and know how to fight for what you deserve.
I also find roadmap planning difficult. Having a strong PM to lean on has helped me learn and understand how to plan for new products.
The bottomline is I need to care enough about my work to be effective for the team or for my career. If I'm passionate, I'll find a way to resolve any challenges.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
Make your job delightful one thing at a time. Look for things that truly engerize you and double down on them. You won't always love every aspect of what you do, so find or create joy and small delights in your day to day.
Don't mess with happy. I recently got this advice from a manager and I LOVE IT. Being a human being is hard, so if you are happy, go along with it :)