Stay Curious and Bold

Product Designer of Captiv8

by Elizabeth Lavis


18 Jul 2023

Gold Winner in Integrated Graphic Design for Social Change 2021
“Design is the truth that I use to explore the world and observe the internal universe” 

Yan Yan credits her roots for the ability to bring a fresh and unexpected angle to design. “I was born and raised in China,” she says. “It gives me a special perspective and stimulates me to think about human connection from a different cultural background.” Yan, a California College of the Arts graduate, practices as an interdisciplinary designer.


“My passion lies in observing and criticizing the social landscape through building artifacts and narratives with critical thinking,” she says. “Design is the truth that I use to explore the world and observe the internal universe.” 

The two best pieces of advice Yan has ever received are ‘look inwardly and be humble’ and ‘stay curious and bold.’ Her boldness and ability to think outside any box are evident in both her process and finished designs. “My work is expanding experimental possibilities and fictionalizing certain scenarios to address contemporary social behavior,” she says. “Through a systematic and hypothetical lens, my work inspires contemplation and empowers my audience to reflect.”


Her favorite piece to date, Memento, featured with London’s Royal College of Art, allows viewers to understand the subjects in a bold and intimate way. “Memento is a unique interactive exhibit where artists and musicians can offer their fans a glimpse into their lives and the people, events, and causes that shaped them,” she says. 

Memento and other works by Yan are deliberately tailored to allow the viewer to interact in a special way with the piece and derive a more nuanced and potent meaning from her work. “I believe that design can deliver joy, generate fresh curiosity, and even bring magic to life,” she says. Although Yan’s work certainly has an air of design alchemy about it, she also believes in the power of fully understanding what the client is looking to achieve, starting most of her projects with robust research to really get to the issue and need at hand. 

Researching and asking the right questions gives Yan a chance to tap into the part of the design that she loves the most; observing and learning about human connection, behavior, and emotions.

Yan’s visionary approach to design and her willingness to push the envelope to create something genuinely transformative also shapes her personal and professional goals. “I hope that in the future, I can continue to explore the boundaries between design and art,” she says. “On one hand, as an interdisciplinary designer, I will keep going on my career path and publicize and promote my work. On the other hand, I will bring a designer’s perspective and my curiosity to the fine arts field.”

She also plans to continue exploring human behavior and social connections and create valuable work in both design and art. Yan also plans to carve out some time to travel when she’s not at home with her cat Kepler.  

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