Color & Materials Design


Ying Zhang

Hewlett Packard

Industrial Design Engineer

As a color and materials designer for Hewlett Packard (HP), Ying Zhang spends a good deal of her time following trends.

Which colors will be popular in China next summer? Which patterns will appeal to Indian consumers? Which eco-friendly materials are coming to the market? And which tech trends — wider laptops, for example — will impact HP product lines?

Zhang uses these trend analyses to inform mood boards, color palettes and material proposals for laptops, earphones, computer totes and other product lines. Then, she vets these with colleagues at HP headquarters in Houston, Texas, and countries around the globe.

Mechanical engineers help Zhang understand how material decisions will impact product performance. Marketers help her identify consumer needs. And suppliers help her forecast and circumnavigate production challenges.

Sometimes, working with an international corporation like Hewlett Packard — which has more than 300,000 employees around the world — can be complicated.

New products often take years to reach the marketplace. And HP’s Houston headquarters fills a series of quietly designed buildings that are linked together in unexpected ways.

“I got totally lost in my first week,” admits Zhang, who requires a special badge to access her office because the product design process is so closely guarded. But Zhang finds the work, at HP and in color and materials design, to be extremely rewarding.

“CCS is one of the only colleges in the world to offer a major in color and materials design,” says Zhang. The faculty members, she says, help Color and Materials Design students understand industry expectations, connect with real-world manufacturers, and develop expertise in the software products they rely on. “What I learned at CCS really supports my work.”