Product Designer at Runway


SharonLee (Product Designer at Runway)

Sharon is a Seoul-born, Brooklyn-based Product Designer, currently pushing the boundaries of creativity through AI.

She/Her • New York, United States • June 19, 2024

What led you into design?

I could talk about this all day, but here’s the essence: I've always been drawn to aesthetically beautiful things—whether that's a well-designed typographic poster or a meticulously crafted piece of clothing. As a child, I loved painting and doodling, and this passion for visual expression naturally led me to pursue a degree in Graphic Design.

It took me a couple of years into my Design program to finally realize that Design is more than a visual discipline but more of a way of thinking. This is also when I got my first exposure to the concepts of UX and Product Design, where there were plenty of cross-overs between the questions of how it looks and what is it that we need to make. What really hooked me was the magic of creating stuff, and now as a Product Designer, I get to do just that every day.

What does a typical day look like?

My typical work day kicks off around 10 AM. Since I usually work remotely, I get to enjoy a leisurely morning walk around the block and grab some coffee if I feel like it. Right now, I’m dog-sitting Max, my friend’s dog, so my days tend to revolve around his schedule – we have a great time strolling around the neighborhood and saying hi to other dogs. When I head into the office, I often grab lunch with my coworkers and take a nice short walk to get coffee together.

I’m a huge fan of Wong Kar-wai and Park Chan-wook's films. I often find myself rewatching my favorites from them or searching for new ones I haven’t seen yet. It’s the perfect way to unwind for the night.

What's your workstation setup?

I'd say my setup is pretty standard. I've got a big main monitor where I keep Figma open full screen, and my laptop is set up for Slack and other work apps. I would often have music playing in the background on my TV. Plus, I love snacking, so you can find me popping in and out of the kitchen area quite often when I’m in the office.

Where do you go to get inspired?

My greatest source of inspiration comes from the people around me! I'm so lucky to be surrounded by such a talented group of friends and coworkers who constantly push me to explore new ideas. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with Runway's style presets, inspired by our Creative team’s amazing work, and I trained my own 'Double Exposure' style. I'm loving the results!

Traveling is another great way for me to unplug and focus on myself. It's a humbling experience, in my opinion. Navigating unfamiliar surroundings teaches you so much about yourself and reminds you how much there is to learn in the world, offering fresh perspectives along the way.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

Image from WIRED

There are so many! First of all, I love LEGOs. They’re so much fun! It’s amazing how these simple pieces can be put together in so many different ways. I'm also a huge fan of Lichen's furniture. Their curation of goods is amazing, and their craftsmanship and attention to detail, especially for wooden pieces, are remarkable. Lastly, I've been into this photo journaling app called Retro. It's a neat way to share photos from the week with a small group of friends. You should give it a try!

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

I'd love to highlight Lip Sync, one of the latest projects I've been involved in at Runway. With Runway's Lip Sync, you can add voiceovers to your image or video creations. This project shipped within a remarkably tight timeframe and looking back, I'm proud of myself for pulling through. Learn more

What design challenges do you face at your company?

In my time here, spanning a little over 2 years, I've witnessed this company's remarkable growth from 10 people to over 80. It's been an incredible journey, observing the various stages a company traverses—it's truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Like any company going through a stage of fast growth, there are ongoing conversations around culture and how we scale systematically.

In addition, as a pioneer in the Generative AI field, we're consistently thinking about what we're building and who we're building it for. We recognize that we're still in the early stages of AI, and there's much to learn about leveraging the technology responsibly, too.

What music do you listen to while designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

It's crucial to remember that growth often comes with discomfort. If you ever find yourself looking back on your past work and feeling dissatisfied, that's a sign of growth. It means you've developed a keen eye and a refined taste, allowing you to be more critical of your own creations. Instead of feeling embarrassed, you should take pride in this progress.

Another thing to keep in mind is to keep on creating. This is something I'm working on as well! Create as much as you can, even though you don't quite know what you are making. Then one day, you'll discover your own style, your pattern, and what truly works for you. The time and effort invested in your work will speak for itself.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to speak about designing for AI at a conference in Korea, alongside industry professionals from Microsoft, NVIDIA, and others. I'm always keen for more opportunities to dive into AI discussions, whether it's at conferences, workshops, or in teaching roles. If you or someone you know is seeking similar discussions, please don't hesitate to reach out! I'd love to connect and chat with you.

Also, Runway is hiring! Feel free to reach out with any questions :)