Jiani Zeng


Jiani Zeng, S/IDSA 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
2020 Graduate Student Merit Award Winner   
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Jiani Zeng (zh:曾佳旎) is a designer, engineer, researcher, and founder focusing on creating tangible and responsive experiences around materials, products, and spaces. Her work exists on the boundary between the digital and physical realms, reinventing material expression and exploring new design opportunities with emerging technology such as AIoT, soft-robotics, and multi-material 3D printing.

Jiani earned a Master of Science at MIT and a B.Eng in Product Design with First-Class Honors at the University of Nottingham. She is the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Butlr Technologies Inc., an MIT Media Lab spin-off that builds the next-gen people-sensing platform. She formerly was a researcher at MIT CSAIL and she co-invented “Illusory Material”, which was selected “The best experimental project of 2020" by Fast Company and "Best Inventions 2021" by TIME. Her research is published on ACM UIST and CHI.

Jiani’s work has been awarded with Red Dot Best of the Best, IF Design Award, IDEA Silver, Architizer A+, Core77 Design Award, A’Design Award Platinum and Gold, and featured by publications including Financial Times, Fast Company, Dezeen, Domus, Dexigner, INNOVATION Magazine, FRAME, Marie Claire, Women of China and CBS. Jiani and her co-founder Honghao Deng are recognized as the “Next Generation 2021” designers by Wallpaper Magazine and featured on Forbes 30 under 30 (North America) List for 2022.