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Siyu Ai | Emerging Product Designer of the Year 2021 IDA

Siyu Ai
University of Illinois At Urbana Champaigner, Delasign


Emerging Product Designer of the Year 2020

Siyu Ai is a multi-disciplinary designer who graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with an MFA degree in Industrial Design. He loves everything that is related to art and technology.

Elevate-X is a short-distance VTOL(vertical take-off and landing) system that combines a drone structure with a passenger pod. The tilt fan and pod system is fully powered by electricity. Elevate-X can travel to the destination independently of any specific routine to avoid delays and use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate traffic congestion.


View the Winning Entry by Siyu Ai


What do you see as the strengths of your winning project and what does this award mean to you personally?I believe this project is future-proof and it strikes a balance between functionality and aesthetics. The concept of vertical take-off and landing aircraft has been developing since 1980. But it is not until recently that people started to build and test unmanned area vehicles. This project envisions the future world and integrates traditional geometry forms and innovative technology, provides a feasible solution for 3D commuting. These types of products have the potentials to reform urban mobility and change our lifestyle.

How/when did you discover that you wanted to work in design?

I love drawing since a very young age, and I become passionate about design in high school. I can still remember the excitement when I got hold of my first Apple product – a music player. The touch, feel, and user experience was fantastic, which changed my perception of design. Since then, I have always wanted to be a designer.

How do you deal with feedback?

Design is highly subjective and full of possibilities. It can happen that people are not convinced enough of your work and provide negative feedback. To me, criticism often provides an opportunity to grow. I can agree or disagree with someone, and it is fun to find out what people truly like and why they think in certain ways.

What would be your dream design project?

Designing the next-gen Playstation, a spaceship to Mars, a new way to protect people from COV-19. There are too many things on my list.

Where do you get motivation and inspiration for your work?

What I see from my daily life and Sci-Fi movies. I am obsessed with everything that’s related to art and technology.

What are you working on, what is in the pipeline for you?

Currently, I am working on an A.I. related project.

What was most important for you when planning the project and what were the biggest challenges you faced?

Feasibility and user experience. Solving the gulf of execution is always challenging.

What kind of culture or structure needs to exist to foster successful team collaboration?

Design-driven instead of business-oriented. It is also important to maintain synchronicity.

What is your guiding design principle?

KISS- keep it simple stupid.

Which designer in your field do you most admire and why?

Marc Newson is my all-time favourite. He is a genius in design and has created so many classic artworks. I love his ‘longevity’ design philosophy.