JIANI
PRESS
PUBLICATIONS + TALKS
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.
2019 - current
Butlr Technologies
  |  
San Francisco/USA

Co-founder, Chief Product Officer, Principal Designer

2019 - current
MIT CSAIL
  |  
Cambridge/ USA

Research Affiliate at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

2019
Seymourpowell
  |  
London/UK

Foresight +Product Design

2018 - 2019
2017 - 2018
MIT Design Lab
  |  
Cambridge/USA

Research Assistant + Designer

2015 - 2016
Hilti
  |  
Shanghai/China

Development Engineer (Management associate)

2017 - 2020
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  |  
Cambridge/USA

M.S. in Engineering and Management
Integrated Design and Management

2011 - 2015
The University of Nottingham
  |  
Ningbo/China

B.Eng. Product Design and Manufacture
First-Class Honors, Dean’s Excellence Scholarship

2013 - 2014
The University of New South Wales
  |  
Sydney/Australia

Industrial Design

Awards & Grants
2021
Forbes
30 Under 30

North America list 2022

TIME Magazine

Best Inventions 2021: Illusory Material

IF Design Award

Discipline Product: Illusory Material
Discipline Professional Concep: nseen

2020
Design Intelligence Awards
Gold

Concept Group top winner: Illusory Material

Fast Company Innovation by Design
Winner

Experimental: Illusory Material

International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA)
Sliver

Professional product design finalist: Illusory Material
Student Design Silver Award: Illusory Material

Reddot Award
Best of the Best

3D Printed: Optical Textiles
Childhood: Loopop

Core77 Design Award
Professional Notable

Strategy & Research Notable: Illusory Material

Architizer A+
Product Award

Smart Building & Technology: Butlr Heatic Sensor

A’ Design Award
Platinum

3D Printed Forms and Products Design: Unream: Voxel Printed Lamp

2019
A’ Design Award
Bronze

Bakeware, Tableware, Dinnerware and Cookware Design: Luna

2017
International Design Awards (IDA)
Gold

Home Interior Products / Kitchen Accessories/Tabletop: Luna

A’ Design Award
Gold

Packaging Design Gold Award: Dual
Disposable & Single-Use Product Design Gold Award: Tag Tag

Featured Exhibitions
2020
China Design Museum
  |  
Hangzhou, China

Art and Life, Curated by China Academy of Art.

Dutch Design Week
  |  
Eindhoven, Netherlands

Adapted Realities - How can digital systems improve both our physical and virtual worlds?

2019
Milan Design Week
  |  
BASE Milano

Curated by Ventura Projects

Selected Media, Press & Interviews
2021
Protocol
Workspace Tech

Using tech to map the spaces we need for the future of work

TechCrunch, Yahoo Finance, California News Times

Butlr Technologies, developing anonymous people sensors, inks $7.9M seed round

FRAME Magazine
Issue 139

Why smart(er) buildings will need more communicative interiors

2020
Core77

The Best 3D Printing Developments of 2020

Wallpaper
The “21 Rising Stars for 2021”

21 outstanding graduates from around the globe

Marie Claire Hungary

Radikális minimalista parfümüveget terveztek

Dezeen

Nseen is a see-through perfume bottle covered in invisible writing

3DPrint.com

MIT Researcher Develops “Illusory Material” and Lenticular 3D Printing Platform

Trend Agency Move
TREND MOVEMENT SS22

Space. With or without nature? |  Spacexpedition

WGSN Insider

The Future of the Home 2030

Financial Times

Into the next dimension

Fast Company

This incredible 3D printing technique generates impossible objects

Stratasys Case Study
case study

The Future of Design: 3D Printing Illusory Materials with PolyJet Technology

Architect Magazine

This Week in Tech

Domus Magazine

A 3D printing framework to design illusory objects

Dexigner

Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng Unveil 'Illusory Material'

3D natives

Creating illusory materials with multi-material 3D printing

3D Printing Media Network

Illusory Material: reimagining product design with multi-material 3D printing

The Nikkei 日本経済新聞
CB Insights

透明板だけではない コロナからスーパー守る新技術

University of Nottingham
University News

UNNC graduate breaks down design medium into 'matters

Tech Crunch, The World Economic Forum, Yahoo Finance

This startup reworked its privacy-friendly sensors to help battle COVID-19

500 Startups

Ones to Watch in Sensors and AI

2019
Arts Thread

Milan19: MIT Integrated Design & Management

Italianbark

MDW 2019 must-see sustainable and circular design events

Presentations & Talks
2021
UC Berkeley Jacobs Institute
Design Field Notes

Invited speaker: Virtual Intimacy In The Physical Reality

Category
Talk
Year
2021
Title
Virtual Intimacy In The Physical Reality
Invited by
Amy Dinh
organization
UC Berkeley (The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation)
Design Shanghai 设计上海
Design Forum

Invited speaker: 3D Printing adds 4th and 5th dimensions

Category
Talk
Year
2021
Title
3D PRINTING ADDS 4TH AND 5TH DIMENSIONS - TIME AND COLOUR
Invited by
Aidan Walker
organization
Design Shanghai 设计上海
D-Will Lecture
Talk

Invited speaker: 设计的微观思维:解构、重组、表达
“A platform sharing design talks from remarkable experts, initiated by DIA Awards”

Category
Talk
Year
2021
Title
设计的微观思维:解构、重组、表达
Invited by
Dr. Jihong Zhu
organization
China Academy of Art (中国美术学院) Fine-arts academy in Hangzhou, China
Category
Talk
Year
2021
Title
Design, Develop, Deploy
Invited by
Elena Dieckmann
organization
Imperial College London | Royal College of Art
UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design
The Cultures of Practice

Guest lecturer: Weaving Tangible Experiences with Digital Information

Category
Talk
Year
2021
Title
Weaving Tangible Experiences with Digital Information
Invited by
Dan Mihai Muntean
organization
UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design
2020
Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology
Talk

Invited speaker: 材料的边界

Category
Talk
Year
2020
Title
材料的边界
Invited by
Ying Li
organization
Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology
Stratasys
Virtual webinar

Re-imagining Product Design with Illusory Material & Voxel 3D Printing

Category
Talk
Year
2020
Title
Re-imagining Product Design with Illusory Material & Voxel 3D Printing
organization
Stratasys
International Design Conference

Speaker: Reinventing physical experiences with digital thinking

Category
Talk
Year
2020
Title
Reinventing physical experiences with digital thinking
Invited by
Industrial Designers Society of America
The 17th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing

Presentation: Mollusca: Design and Fabrication of a Crawling Origami Robot

Category
Talk
Year
2020
Title
Mollusca: Design and Fabrication of a Crawling Origami Robot
organization
Ritsumeikan University
Refereed Conference Paper
2021
ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology

Zeng, J., Deng, H., Zhu, Y., Wessely, M., Kilian, A., & Mueller, S. (2021, October). Lenticular Objects: 3D Printed Objects with Lenticular Lens Surfaces That Can Change their Appearance Depending on the Viewpoint. In The 34th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (pp. 1184-1196).

Category
Refereed Conference Paper
Year
2021
Title
Lenticular Objects: 3D Printed Objects with Lenticular Lens Surfaces That Can Change their Appearance Depending on the Viewpoint.
publisher
Association for Computing Machinery
2020
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Xinlei Zhang, Ali Shtarbanov, Jiani Zeng, Valerie K. Chen, V. Michael Bove, Pattie Maes, and Jun Rekimoto. 2019. Bubble: Wearable Assistive Grasping Augmentation Based on Soft Inflatables. In Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA '19). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Paper LBW2313, 1–6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3290607.3312868

Category
Refereed Conference Paper
Year
2020
Title
Bubble: Wearable Assistive Grasping Augmentation Based on Soft Inflatables.
publisher
Association for Computing Machinery
Thesis
2020
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Master’s Thesis

Expand material presence to material experience with volumetric thinking: voxel based multi-material printing in designing objects.
Advisors: Axel Kilian and Stefanie Mueller.

Category
Thesis
Year
2020
Title
Expand material presence to material experience with volumetric thinking: voxel based multi-material printing in designing objects.
publisher
MIT
Books and Magazines
2021
《设计》杂志 (China Design Magazine | designmag.cn)
Jan. Issue

Featured on the magazine front cover | Designer Interview in China Academic Journal (RCCSE authoritative core journal, ISSN1003-0069)

Category
Book/Magazine
Year
2021
Title
Designer interview on Illusory Material and the future of "China design"
Curated by
Ye Li | Editor-in-chief
publisher
《设计》杂志 (China Design Magazine | designmag.cn)
2021
《创新材料与设计》(Innovative Material and Design)

Contributing author of article featuring “Illusory Material”, publisher: 中国工商出版社. (forthcoming)

Category
Book/Magazine
Year
2021
Title
《创新材料与设计》(Innovative Material and Design)
Curated by
Ying Li
publisher
中国商业出版社
2020
DAMNº Magazine 77: A Conversation on Happiness
Winter Issue

Contributing author of article titled “The Digital Physical”.

Category
Book/Magazine
Year
2020
Title
The Digital Physical
Curated by
Gabrielle Kennedy
publisher
DAMN°
2020
INNOVATION: Education Interrupted
Winter Issue

Designer Interview “Pushing Past the Limits of Traditional Design”, published by Industrial Designers Society of America.

Category
Book/Magazine
Year
2020
Title
Pushing past the limits of traditional design
publisher
Industrial Designers Society of America