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Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSc)

Xiaofei Yang

Young is an interdisciplinary designer working in scales of design. From culture creative products to food innovation design, her works tend to explore the relationship between human and object in the digital era. She questions the existing norm and brings new value from reflection on the traditional. With the background in Product Design, she strives to design with empathy, the sensitivity of technology and system thinking.

From helping children battle ADHD with food to the graduation project of leveraging cellular agriculture, she has focused on food innovation during her two years in IDE. She uses food as a design topic with a diverse perspective, combining design strategies and emerging technologies to create work with social impact. She joined The Neo Food Company in June 2019 as a creative designer to curate events.​​​​​​​


portfolio website



Degree Details

School of Design

Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSc)

THE FUTURE PROTEIN PLAN is a project that explores the future of protein transition for humans. Today, 89% of the world's population get protein from animals. But to feed everyone in the future, scientists are working to explore other efficient and sustainable sources of protein, from insects to plants, and emerging cellular agriculture to produce meat without animals, known as the lab-grown meat. This project aims to explore how design can be used in combination with cellular agriculture to encourage people to consume alternative protein choices and achieve a sustainable future diet. 

The research started with two directions: the development and characteristics of the lab-grown meat and consumer attitudes towards new proteins. The design strategies are based on the innovation curve of Everett Rogers[1]. After meeting with experts and conducting interviews with people who have different eating habits, the "protein customization" was found as an entry point for consumer engagement. I worked with scientists and chefs to develop the cellular recipes to professionally present the protein form that is completely different from the current meat. In this way, the vision of the food motivates people to make positive choices in the future.

[1]Everett Rogers popularized Diffusion of innovations which is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread.

Increasing demand of meat consumption

Livestock farming and cells farming — Cellular agriculture is the production of agricultural products from cell cultures. Data from CBinsigts

89% of the world's population eats meat on a daily basis. As the world's population explodes and the demand for meat consumption skyrockets, scientists and startups are seeking alternative protein to alleviate the pressure of livestock farming on the environment.

To enable people to adapt to protein transition[1], cellular agriculture was created. The lab-grown meat we see most often in the news was developed from cellular agriculture. By taking live cells from livestock and culturing them in vitro, muscle cells are gradually grown into the meat protein. Since the growth process is highly controlled, this provides unlimited possibilities for customizing the protein.

Cultivated meat technology has matured, but there is still a lot of work to be done before it is available on the market. While most startups focus on technological innovation, I'm more interested in consumers' attitude. How can we get consumers actively involved in protein transition? How can we use the features of cellular agriculture to show people an alternative?

Through interviews and research, I believe that the premise of people accepting protein transition is to first help them build an attitude of eating sustainably rather than thoughtlessly. It will be a good start to build the knowledge and experience of cultivated meat in a positive and transparent way.

[1]protein transition is the shift from the consumption of animal proteins to vegetable and new protein sources.
cellular argriculturecultivated meatdesign strategyFood Designfood innovationFuture of Foodinnovation design engineeringlab-grown meatSustainability

Website mock up 1 — The home page of the site is a gallery that creates a wide variety of protein displays to help inspire creativity. There is a simple tutorial before you get to the site.

Website mock up 2 — Then you can choose a template, adjust the protein data to taste, and finally adjust the appearance of the protein and even add extra nutrients to create a protein source that's entirely your own!

Demo 1

Demo 1 — Choose the protein cells you like.

Demo 2

Demo 2 — Choose the taste you like.

Demo 3

Demo 3 — Slide to change the shape of the protein.

Demo 4

Demo 4 — Slide to change the taste of the protein.

The Future Protein Plan is a design strategy based project to stimulate people's imagination to create their own protein forms to achieve protein transition. The website is motivating people to take action through their food choices to adopt an alternative eating future.



design strategy — To motivate people to accept the protein transition step by step, I divided the design strategy into three phases. This project is focused on phase 1 and 2. Phase 1 is about communicating information to consumers. Then technology should allow consumers to involved in the customization process, which is demonstrated in phase 2. When the technology is fully established, it should be more available to the public.

overview — This is how the system works. Step 1: Scientists and chefs as innovators to use the website to create the protein. The recipe shows the highly customized nature of cultivated meat. Step2&3: Foodies and vegetarians as early adopters, they can get the basic knowledge of future protein from these recipes. The novelty of the food will light up their creativity.
 Step4&5: Early adopters can go to the website for simple customization, and likewise, after the scaffold is analyzed, the data will be sent back to the lab for cultivation by professionals. In about 1-2 weeks, the protein will be delivered.

Website demo




user test video — During the test, the users were getting immersed in the creative process. They became more and more curious about what cellular agriculture could bring to the table. The feedback showed the users were proactively thinking about what they wanted to eat during the process.

Feedback from experts — This project can allow people to create things beyond their imagination. It also can be a tool for experts to open their mind.

prototype created by users

How the protein is customized 1

How the protein is customized 1

How the protein is customized 2

How the protein is customized 2

User test and feedback

Cellular recipe 1 - salami taste set — Using cellular agriculture to grow different cells together and get a mixed flavour salami on one platform.

Cellular recipe 2 - bacon onion tarte — To get a slice of onion bacon, the chef uses the onion as the growing scaffold. Muscle cells and fat cells are injected into the onion skin in layers. After baking, you can get a piece of pork belly full of onion flavour!

At the end of this project, I summarized the foresight of our future foods. There is no doubt that this is a forward-looking project. In the future, as technology advances and the environment changes, our food resources are likely to become more and more diverse. How might we respond to those changes? Should we take the initiative to achieve a sustainable diet rather than waiting for resources to run out?

During the pandemic, people started to use less transportation to maintain social distance. We then witnessed better air quality and clearer rivers. A little change by people can have a huge impact on the environment. In the same way, I believe it's a positive step forward if people get interested in protein transition and choose more cellular products to achieve a sustainable diet.

I'm looking for the collaboration to develop this project, If you are interested and would like to know more about my project, please contact me or go to my portfolio website

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