Jiabao Li, IDSA


Jiabao Li, IDSA
Designer | Apple

Working at the intersection of emerging technology, art, and design, Jiabao Li creates new ways for humans to perceive the world. She works across nature, humans’ designed environment, and belief structures and creates works addressing climate change, humane technology, and a just, sustainable future. Her mediums include wearable, robot, AR/VR, projection, performance, software, and installation.

In Jiabao’s TED Talk, she uncovered how technology mediates the way we perceive reality. At Apple, she invents and explores new technologies for future products. She has been awarded multiple patents for her inventions. Her talk “Discoverable Design” at Apple Worldwide Developers Conference has inspired widespread discussion. She is the co-founder and chief design officer of Snapi Health and advises several Silicon Valley startups.

Jiabao is the recipient of numerous awards, including IDEA, iF Design Award, AACYF 30 Under 30, National Endowment for the Arts, Falling Walls, STARTS Prize, Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award, Core77, and A’ Design Award. Her work has been exhibited internationally at Ars Electronica, SIGGRAPH, Milan and Dubai Design Week, McaM, ISEA, Anchorage Museum, OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal, CHI, Donghu Shan Art Museum, MOOD Museum of Design, Alaska State Museum, Hawaii State Art Museum, and NEW INC. Her work has been featured on TED, TechCrunch, Domus, CCTV, Yanko Design, Fast Company, Harvard Political Review, The National, Business Insider, Bloomberg, Leonardo, Yahoo, and South China Morning Post.

Jiabao graduated from Harvard Graduate School of Design with a Master of Design in Technology with Distinction and won the best thesis award. She received her Bachelor of Electrical Engineering with Distinction Honors from the National University of Singapore. She was a researcher at the MIT Media Lab and Royal College of Art.




Statement of Candidacy (Education Council - Practitioner | 2022-2023 term)

Who am I?
I work across design, art, and emerging technology. In my three years working as a prototyping designer at Apple, I invent and explore new technologies for future products. I give talks on topics ranging from interaction design (WWDC Talk) to design’s societal impact (TED Talk). I mentor interns and teach a wide range of subjects. I advise several Silicon Valley startups, and I am the co-founder and chief design officer of Snapi Health.

Why am I a good fit for this position?
Industrial Design has been evolved way beyond the traditional ID (form, function, design thinking, etc.). It also encompasses the arts, speculative design, technology, human-computer interaction, bio-design, and more. Working across all these areas myself, I could help to bridge and facilitate transdisciplinary communications.

I promote inclusion and diversity at earlier stages in the design career pipeline by working with high school students who may not know that design is a valid and desirable career choice for them. At Future Advancers of Science & Technology (FAST), a non-profit where I am founding the design and art chapter, we pair high school students from disenfranchised or under-resourced communities with designers and artists to create innovative projects. Under this challenging time caused by COVID-19, many students I work with face unprecedented challenging issues such as abusive parents, insufficient learning time, limited internet access and physical space. I try to connect with every student personally to understand their difficulties and needs to create mentorship that they feel comfortable with while the pandemic is bringing educational inequity to the forefront.

What would I like to do in this position?

Informed by the pandemic, I will invent creative ways for people to connect both online and in-person.

Help connecting resources (manufacturers, investors) to winners of IDSA's Student Merit Award (SMA) competition to push their designs into production or possible startups.

Hold community building-sessions, organize critique sessions from practitioners for students, and set up career guidance sessions.

Facilitate new student chapter formation. Connect practitioners to student chapters.

Assist with organizing the annual Education Symposium.

Serve on the jury teams responsible for reviewing work submitted by students to select SMA District Winners and Scholarship recipients.

My mentoring philosophy:
I aim to motivate curiosity-driven, life-long learning. The best way to motivate students is through self-discovery and the celebration of innovation and curiosity. In my own artistic and design practice, curiosity drives experiments and forms discoveries and novelty. I bring this process into my classrooms to create passion and positive energy that students take with them afterward. I empower my students and interns to believe the originality and relevance of their ideas drive impact rather than the size of their budget.

Encouraging students to ask questions leads to proactive thinking, discussion, and learning. I require my students to keep a speculative eye on everything. What already exists can be questioned, improved, and remade. Speculation ignites students’ imaginations to flow freely and opens new perspectives and debates about alternatives.