Happy third annual World Interaction Design Day (IxDD)! We’re delighted to celebrate this year’s global event with the launch of Adobe’s second UX Designers to Watch program. This is a program that highlights impressive, up-and-coming UX design talent from around the world, people who are consistently challenging the limitations of the design profession despite being relatively early in their careers.
To select this year’s designers, we gathered a panel of leaders recognized across the industry. Our panel this year includes Jamie Myrold, Vice President of Design at Adobe; Joshua Seiden, Designer, Entrepreneur, and Co-Founder of IxDA; Fabricio Teixeira, Work & Co Design Director; Liz Danzico, Vice President of Design at NPR; and myself.
Together, we conducted a search that spanned the globe. We looked not just for technically proficient designers with strong portfolios, but also for burgeoning talents who demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the world through design. We also put a special emphasis on finding designers whose work complements this year’s IxDD theme of culture and sustainability.
This year’s cohort of UX Designers to Watch includes folks with a wide range of passions, from designing to reduce food waste to facilitating safe and effortless sneaker trading. Yet every one of these designers shares a passion for community and using their expertise to uplift others, whether through facilitating professional development sessions, creating experiences for underserved groups of people, or creating educational content to support peers in the design space. It’s a wonderful group of practitioners with tremendous energy, and you’ll be hearing a lot more of them in the years to come.
Without further ado, I am excited to present to you this year’s list of Adobe’s UX Designers to Watch.
Sandra Atakora, New York, USA
After starting her career in industrial design, Sandra quickly transferred over to interaction design, where she’s spent the last few years making a name for herself. Now, as the Director of User Experience at Perch, Sandra shapes physical and digital experiences and is building a whole new design language and practice around in-store experiences. The groundbreaking work has helped Perch earn recognition at the Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards, Forbes Magazine 15 Tech Companies to Watch, and Edison Awards with a Gold Medal for Retail Innovation. Most recently, Sandra led the interactive design for Macy’s Fragrance Destination, a project completely rethinking in-store scent discovery across Macy’s fragrance category.
Sandra also runs her own consulting business developing AR experiences. She has worked with emerging mediums through her role as a research fellow at Pratt Institute, where she conducted research at the intersection of design and technology.
Sandra believes in the thoughtful use of technology to create experiences that go beyond the screen. Her work, motivated by her practice as an aerialist, aims to capture the audience by deliberate movement through physical and digital space.
Cody Cai, San Francisco, USA
Growing up in California as the child of immigrants, Cody’s love for UX was inspired by his parents’ restaurant. Witnessing their love and resiliency when putting together creative authentic dishes that delighted their customers profoundly influenced his own skills around experimentation, craftsmanship, storytelling, and empathy.
After graduating from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, Cody began his career at IBM, where he learned about Enterprise Design Thinking. He is now a UX Designer at Twitch, where he crafts interactive experiences to create more diverse and inclusive streaming communities.
Cody loves to experiment with new mediums and believes that sound, music, and language are powerful, universal tools of communication that shape our realities, guide our emotions, and warp our perceptions. Through his work with these themes, he has co-curated an exhibition of Jazz posters by Miklaus Troxler and created his own pictorial language called Sonoglyphs as an experiment to transcend the boundaries of language.
Looking ahead, Cody hopes to continue learning from the world’s best brand and product design teams, while advocating for inclusive design and well-crafted personalized experiences that are rooted in strong emotional connection.
Becky Colley, London, United Kingdom
After beginning her career in business roles, Becky pivoted to digital experience and in 2017, began working as a UX designer with Cancer Research UK, the world’s leading independent charity dedicated to cancer research. She continued her work with non-profits and designing for social impact, and has completed design projects with Stand Up To Cancer and Race for Life. Becky is now UX Lead at the Barbican Centre, the largest performing arts center in Europe, where she’s working on projects like Cinema on Demand and Live from the Barbican.
Becky is particularly passionate about accessibility, inclusion, and tech for good. She led the organization of non-profit Citizens Advice’s first ever hack day to help 25 energy suppliers make their debt and complaint letters easier for consumers to understand and act on. As she planned the event, she ensured the hack day was inclusive and set up workshops designed to highlight human-centered design to empower participants to improve the customer experience.
Marisa Blair, Toronto, Canada
With a career in web and graphic design, digital media, and content creation, Marisa has channeled her expertise in UX design into XO Pixel, her website dedicated to helping over one million readers continue their love for design, code, and technology through articles and tutorials. Over the past six years, Marisa has built a platform full of resources, including a YouTube channel where she shares educational videos on UI/UX design, graphic design, illustration, and web development.
As she continues sharing knowledge with her online community, Marisa has gained a stellar reputation as a thought leader committed to design and education in the UX community. She is passionate about teaching creative digital skills online through her platform on XO Pixel and would like to see more women and women of color in the design and tech industry. She hopes to continue being visible online while teaching and mentoring future creatives through engaging and educational content.
Artiom Dashinsky, Berlin, Germany
Artiom works on his own products and consults selected companies on UX and product design.
Artiom led the design of multiple products at WeWork and prior to that worked with startups designing their products and establishing their design culture. He’s involved in the design community by helping UX designers prepare for job interviews and practice their product skills with his Amazon best-selling book. He also helps UX designers accelerate their workflow in popular design tools.
Artiom’s commitment to sustainability goes as far back as 2014, when he minimized all his belongings to 27 kilograms and moved to a randomly-selected country, beginning a minimalist and sustainable lifestyle. Since then, he has continued learning about sustainability and has spoken at the SustainableUX conference teaching UX designers to improve their products’ sustainability.
Most recently Artiom published his second book helping designers and makers come up with business ideas. These days, he tackles the problem of providing companies with more sustainable and meaningful swag at OpenStanding.
Ariana M. Davis, San Francisco, USA
As the Golden State Warriors Lead Product Design UI Engineer, Ariana crafts digital experiences across online properties to increase fan engagement—combining her love of sports, design, and technology. Diving into her entrepreneurial side, Ariana and her partners launched and designed Sole360, a sneaker trading platform which focuses on helping users trade sneakers safely and seamlessly.
In her professional and personal life, Ariana is an advocate for diversity in the tech industry, striving to give more women of color a seat at the table. Outside of work, she is a part of an organization called Dev Color, a fellowship that empowers Black software engineers to help one another grow into industry leaders, and is highly involved in the tech community—attending meetups, participating in webinars, and providing insight as a mentor—to inspire more diversity and inclusion in STEM careers.
Elba Ornelas, Guadalajara, Mexico
Elba believes in constantly improving design and building digital solutions to contribute meaningfully to people’s lives. As a Senior UX Designer at Wizeline, Elba leads internal efforts to remove food waste in Wizeline offices. Her web-based platform Foodie reduced food waste in two offices by nearly 50% after eight months of use.
Elba’s passion for sustainable design led her to receive her certification in designing for a circular economy from Cradle to Cradle Product Design, the global standard for products made responsibly through reusing resources and eliminating waste. Elba is also a public speaking enthusiast and has presented on UX topics at design gatherings and conferences, including the Conferencia Líderes in 2019.
Elba is a dedicated mentor and part of #IamRemarkable, a Google initiative empowering underrepresented groups to celebrate their career achievements. As a facilitator, Elba has led discussions with professionals to challenge their perceptions around self-promotion and help them develop skills to advocate for themselves. In the near future, Elba would like to foster the reach of design and advocate for inclusive decisions that benefit us all equally.
Mary Tsai, San Francisco, USA
Mary began her career in architecture designing zoo exhibits and aquariums, where she gained an interest in sustainability and material design. In 2017, she shifted paths to study interaction designs and how connections between the digital and physical can facilitate deep decision-making choices. After receiving her master’s degree in Interaction Design at Carnegie Mellon University, Mary is now a User Experience Designer at LinkedIn, working on the Marketing Solutions team.
While in graduate school, Mary completed her thesis focusing on the role of error as a collaborator to develop form in analog and digital craft practices. As she questioned the relationship between human and machine, she ultimately created a new way of bespoke 3D printing. She also worked with classmates to create an in-home IoT device encouraging users to comprehend the local environmental impact of their daily home life and foster lasting behavioral changes to improve sustainable practices.
Mary also leverages her impressive design and architecture background for her furniture design and woodworking business. She is particularly interested in using interaction design to understand sustainability and materiality, which leads to her hopes of eventually making all her own furniture.
Johny Vino, Cupertino, USA
Johny has a passion for humanizing design and believes that it has the capacity to improve people’s lives and society. After receiving an MFA in Interaction Design from the School of Visual Arts, Johny is currently creating impactful design as a product designer at Apple. Previously, Johny interned at Microsoft as an interaction designer working on Outlook.
Johny pushes himself to take design and technology to the next level. His own product, Cleanmock, helps designers present their designs beautifully. Johny also took on the challenge of designing an app a day for two years. His resulting projects spanned topics including global warming, workspace culture, and connecting communities.
Outside of work, Johny is an international speaker at UX design conferences on micro-interactions. He also helps educate his peers through articles on Medium and UX Collective, where he provides insights and seeks to inspire the next generation of designers.
Jason Yuan, San Francisco, USA
Jason designs interfaces—from defining underlying metaphors to obsessively tuning spring-damping parameters. He studied theatre at Northwestern University and graphic design at RISD, and has worked at Apple on touchpoints like apple.com and the Apple Store App. He is best known for his independent projects, created as provocations to question long-held conventions in computing and digital social spaces.
Most recently, Jason co-founded MakeSpace, a social platform that reimagines familiar pillars of the computing experience (such as web browsing and teleconferencing) within a real-time, collaborative canvas. Last year, he released Mercury OS, a speculative project outlining an inclusive operating system for neurodiverse people—particularly those who struggle with executive function and cognitive load.
Outside of interaction design, Jason enjoys choreographing typographic animations for clients like Klim Type Foundry—prodding procedural systems towards playful, mesmerizing motion.
Along with his co-founders at MakeSpace, he believes technology is never neutral and that, as technology creators, we must take responsibility for being constructors of our social world.
Can’t get enough of this UX talent? Check out last year’s UX Designers to Watch here.