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Interview with Felix Chang – Associate Strategy Director at Artefact

Felix Chang is an Associate Strategy Director at Artefact – a sponsor of this year’s Seattle Design Festival. As a researcher, Felix describes his job as “a little bit like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter” because he strives to understand people and systems to find the deeper themes and insights. Felix uses his research abilities on a range of projects at Artefact, from healthcare to IoT. Felix has a bachelor’s degree in cognitive psychology from Stanford University, where he examined how immersive virtual reality can help reduce social stigma. He is also a Community Involvement Commissioner with the City of Seattle. Join Felix at Artefact’s participatory workshop in this year’s festival: Empathy is Not Enough: How to Take Action Towards Inclusion in Design on August 22, 11am-12pm.

Question (Q): What is it About Time for in design?
Felix Chang (FC): It’s about time for a call to action and recognition that the status quo of how we approach design is not working. 2020 has made more apparent than ever the rampant inequity in society, whether in safety, health, the economy, or our professional lives. I’ve personally been reflecting on situations where my intentions to be inclusive may not align with my impact. We as a design community must shift power to communities of use and design products not in vacuums, but with thorough consideration of how they will influence and intersect with broader social systems over time.

Q: Who or what inspires you?
FC: So many people! The community leaders throughout Seattle who work so hard to build trust with their neighbors and advocate tirelessly for them. Youth activists who are boldly speaking truths and demanding action. My coworkers at Artefact are amazing and push me to do better work every day. And of course, my family and friends: my parents are so caring and such hard workers, my sister is dedicating her career to social justice, and my partner spends all day thinking of how to uplift communities and advance health equity.

Q: Tell us about a project that you completed that you are especially proud of.
FC: My colleague and I recently planned a global Menstrual Health Strategy Summit with international development non-profit Splash, preparing to facilitate discussion, idea generation, and alignment among local students and officials in Ethiopia and international health experts to develop strategies for new and culturally relevant programs across countries. Unfortunately, the Summit was not able to occur in-person due to COVID-19, but I was proud of how quickly we were able to pivot to a virtual forum given just a week’s notice!

Q: My favorite thing about my city is…
FC: Too many to limit to just one thing! The gorgeous nature and how accessible it is! How nerdy, quirky, and passionate people are. The active LGBTQ+ community. The walkability and public transit! How you can get doro wat, fried chicken, bubble tea, khao soi, soup dumplings, sushi, and matcha ice cream all within a few blocks!

Q: What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want to contribute?
FC: Through my work, I hope to push technology organizations to amplify the benefits that their products can have on society and people, and mitigate their harms. I want to encourage teams to empower communities to make, rather than validate, product or service decisions.

Q: What’s next for you?
I’m looking forward to my next project partnering with a global organization to scale its practice of human-centered design and capacity-building around the world!