About me

Haiyan Zhang is an interaction designer, technologist and maker of things.

She is Innovation Director at Lift London, a Microsoft Games Studio, developing technologies for new entertainment experiences.

She formerly led design for the innovation platform, OpenIDEO.com, and was a member of its founding team.

As an Interaction Designer at the design consultancy, IDEO, she has created innovative new digital experiences for community building, entertainment, and financial services. She has also worked with leading videogame makers on research and game concepts for new play experiences. Clients Haiyan has worked with include Mattel, Electronic Arts, HBO, France Telecom, Alcatel, Cisco, and AT&T.

Haiyan believes in a holistic approach to design.Starting from user research and insights, she leverages her design skills to bring ideas into tangible form early on in the process. Haiyan creates prototypes, interfaces, sketches, scenarios, advertisements to reflect the user’s experience as a journey beyond a single product moment.

Haiyan’s work is informed by her previous profession as a software engineer and user interface designer creating applications for the biomedical and data-mining industries. For example, as part of a team of software developers from Excel Tech in Canada, she created an electroencephalograph (EEG) visualization tool for intra-operative monitoring which is currently being used in hospitals across North America.

A scholar of both technology and design, she graduated in 2006 with distinction in a Masters degree in Interaction Design from the renowned Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, and has a Bachelor of Computer Science (First-Class Honours) from Monash University, Australia.

Haiyan has lived in China, Australia, Toronto, Italy, San Francisco and now resides in London.

Haiyan was a featured designer in the UK edition of Wired magazine (June 2009):


Things I Make


  • OpenIDEO – An open collaboration platform for solving the world’s tough challenges. Webby winner for Best Community, 2011.
  • Spectral Alphabet – A photo essay blog featuring my medium format photography.
  • Japan Geigermap – A crowd-sourced geiger map of Japan, featuring radiation measurements from a number of crowd and official sources. 500,000 visitors to date.
  • IDEO Make-a-thon – A lightning event where designers, makers, developers, hackers came together to create technology prototypes for social good.
  • True North – A personal compass app for your iPhone that points to the places you care about.
  • Playsettings – Playful crockery for dextrous dining.
  • BBVA ATM– A new ATM self-service experience currently being piloted in Madrid.
  • Control Freaks – My master’s thesis on turning everyday objects into opportunities for interactive play.
  • Future Currents – Ideas for reducing household energy consumption. With the British Design Council RED Team.
  • Tug Tug Phones – Telephones for haptic communication across distances. Featured in Wallpaper* (Oct 2005) and exhibited at the Salone del Mobile (Milan Furniture Fair), 2005.
  • Standby Energy Visualisation – Interactive widget for revealing your standby energy usage.
  • Big Conversations & Small Talk – IDEO’s ongoing conversation with the wider community about innovation and design thinking.
  • Inspired? Share – An IDEO Facebook app to share what inspires you.
  • Lost Paradise – Generative art piece inspired by the work of William Morris.