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Meet Crystal Lezhi Zhang, Committee Member for the Sustainability Alumni Network

Portrait photo of Crystal
  • Written byEleanor Harvey
  • Published date 06 September 2023
Portrait photo of Crystal
Crystal Zhang, UAL Sustainability Alumni Association Committee Member

We’re delighted to introduce Sustainability Alumni Network Committee Member, Crystal Zhang. She’s currently doing her PhD in Design Education for Eco-Social Justice at London College of Communication (LCC).

We spoke to Crystal about how her practice, mainly focused on design, education and eco-justice, fits in with the current global need of sustainability and why she decided to volunteer with the Sustainability Alumni Network.

The Sustainability Alumni Network is a community for UAL graduates who are responding creatively to the climate emergency. The network enables discussions and promotes projects about sustainable futures within the arts; and how they can help achieve climate justice and sustainability around the globe.

How would you define your practice?

I’m currently a full-time PhD student at LCC. My practice-based doctoral research focuses on design education for eco-social justice. The goal: to embed tangible interventions for addressing eco-social justice in curriculum design.

I have previously completed a BDes in Industrial Design in Canada, followed by MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures from LCC.

My practice has been shaped by my diverse experiences as a lecturer, product designer, workshop lead, peer mentor, teaching assistant and curator.

I’ve been fortunate enough to study and work in the UK, Canada and China, with a focus on sustainable design, design education, social innovation and public exhibition. My work has received awards in the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada. I’ve exhibited in London, Edinburgh, Guangzhou and Vancouver.

Tell us about your career so far.

As a freelance product designer and design consultant, I’ve closely collaborated with clients from commercial industries and NGOs. My work has involved researching and designing sustainable products or services that have a positive impact on the environment and society. Additionally, I’ve taught and mentored inspiring students to develop their skills and knowledge in sustainable design, sharing my own experiences and insights with them.

My career has been focused on using design as a tool for developing sustainability and social responsibility. I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for me to continue making a positive influence in higher education and industry.

Why did you want to be part of the Sustainability Alumni Network?

My motivation to be a part of the Sustainability Alumni Network stems from my deep personal interest and practices in design for sustainability. Graduating from a sustainable-related MA programme at LCC, I’m passionate about researching climate action, social justice and design education.

Being a part of the network opens up a world of possibilities for me, connecting me with a global network of artists, designers and creative professionals who share my passion for sustainability, innovation and creativity. It also offers a valuable platform for engaging in meaningful discussions and driving positive change around sustainability issues.

What do you hope to bring to the network?

I’d like to build bridges between alumni, industry, and higher education to integrate sustainability initiatives.

One area of interest to me is connecting with international alumni who share a passion for sustainability. By promoting a global network of like-minded individuals, we can build a strong community of professionals who are committed to advancing sustainable practices and solutions. I believe that there’s a tremendous opportunity to increase the expertise and resources of the industry and UAL to support sustainability in creative areas.

And lastly, what does UAL mean to you?

To me, UAL is much more than an academic institution - it’s a harbour that continually provides me with unlimited resources, support and opportunities to grow as a graduate, and a current doctoral student.

I’ve found UAL to be a place where creativity, innovation and collaboration are celebrated, where my voice can be heard, my ideas can be explored and my knowledge put into practice. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow as part of this dynamic and inspiring community.

Connect with Crystal on Instagram @crystalcheung

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