Sample photo of Urban ASL, a groundbreaking iOS sticker app created by designer Valerie Trisnadi in 2020, featuring animated American Sign Language (ASL) interpretations of popular Gen-Z slang to foster inclusivity and awareness.
Urban ASL (2020), an animated iOS sticker app created by Valerie Trisnadi that showcases Gen-Z slang in American Sign Language (ASL).

In a world where creative solutions are key to solving real-world problems, Valerie Trisnadi stands out as a beacon of innovation and transformation. Hailing from Jakarta and currently residing in San Francisco, this trailblazing designer has made tangible strides in the design industry, tackling underrepresented communities and making measurable impacts—a true testament to her talent, tenacity, and ingenuity.

Trisnadi’s work runs the gamut from eye-catching website designs to groundbreaking apps like Urban ASL—illustrating her expansive skill set and determination to push boundaries. Her success has garnered recognition from prestigious platforms such as Fast Company, Graphic Design USA (GD USA), and AIGA, while her projects like the Urban ASL app have reached and benefited thousands of users.

But the driving force behind Trisnadi’s ability to innovate and make a genuine difference is her passion for design, coupled with her unique synesthesia—a neurological condition that interweaves her senses, as well as her rich cultural background and her commitment to giving a voice to underrepresented communities.

Join us as we explore the astounding accomplishments of Valerie Trisnadi, a relentless problem-solver and innovator whose work in design is not only visually attractive but also delivers real and quantifiable results. In diving into her story, we discover the limitless potential and transformative power of creative thinking.

Discovering her passion for design early in life

Nurturing a fascination for design since the young age of 11, Valerie Trisnadi has come a long way from her childhood in Jakarta, Indonesia, to establishing her name in the design world in the United States. Her upbringing in a diverse and rapidly developing country deeply influenced her design approach and played an essential role in shaping her commitment to inclusivity and using design as a tool for social impact.

“My childhood and life experiences in Indonesia have deeply influenced my design approach. They have given me a rich cultural perspective, a commitment to inclusivity, and a passion for using design as a tool for social impact. Growing up in a country with a rapidly developing economy and a diverse population has given me a unique perspective on the importance of inclusive design,” Trisnadi explains.

Indeed, her early recognition of the value of cultural nuances and accessibility allowed her to hone her design skills in a way that transcends mere aesthetics. Moving to the United States at the age of 18 to study design was a pivotal moment in her life, as it laid the foundation for her future career as a successful designer.

At Parsons School of Design in New York, Trisnadi further developed her craft, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design. The opportunities to collaborate with global brands like IKEA and added an impressive edge to her already flourishing portfolio. In 2017, she was the youngest of 20 talents selected to participate in an IKEA design collaboration with Tom Dixon for their Delaktig collection. Her concept, rich with cultural understanding and a fresh perspective, earned a feature in The New York Times.

From Jakarta to the bustling design scene in San Francisco, Valerie Trisnadi has consistently used her talent for design to make an impact on the world around her. With a passion for inclusive design and a knack for solving real-world problems, she continues to innovate, disrupt, and inspire change through her work. The story of this problem-solver and innovator is only just beginning.

Trisnadi’s synesthesia: how this neurological condition impacts her work and fuels her creativity and innovation

It’s often said that true growth comes from embracing and harnessing our unique qualities. For Valerie Trisnadi, one such characteristic has greatly influenced her design career and work—synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon where one sensory input triggers another. Her ability to experience and perceive sensory stimuli in unconventional ways has shaped her creative process, resulting in some extraordinary, innovative design solutions.

“Synesthesia allows me to perceive and experience sensory stimuli in unconventional ways. When it comes to design, this translates into a heightened sensitivity to color, shape, and letterforms,” Trisnadi explains.

Trisnadi’s synesthesia sets her apart. Seeing colors when reading letters, numbers, or music notes, she realized later in life that her unique perception wasn’t the norm. Embracing her individuality, she offers fresh perspectives and innovative solutions, recognized by prestigious organizations. Her success in design reshapes the world, demonstrating the power of embracing what makes one truly unique.

The experiential opportunity

"Screen capture of the redesigned website for HERoines, a NYC-based women-led NGO. The creative design concept by Valerie Trisnadi perfectly captures the empowering spirit of the organization, showcasing their events, books, and community involvement initiatives. The design is a clear manifestation of Trisnadi's dedication to enhancing the visibility of underrepresented communities through innovative and accessible design solutions."
Trisnadi’s website redesign for HERoines, a women-led NGO based in NYC that aims to empower women through events, books, and community involvement (2019).

During her involvement with in 2019, Valerie Trisnadi was tasked with designing a website for a struggling nonprofit organization, HERoines Inc. This challenge resonated deeply with her, as it gave her the opportunity to apply her design skills for underrepresented communities, an area she is particularly passionate about.

“…Growing up in a diverse environment, my personal experiences and observations of systemic injustices have fueled my passion for creating positive change through design,” says Trisnadi. “Designing for underrepresented communities is not just a career choice; it is a mission that infuses purpose into every project I undertake. I am committed to leveraging design as a tool for amplifying voices, promoting accessibility, and creating inclusive experiences.”

Working closely with the organization, Trisnadi poignantly captured their essence and mission through her innovative web design, meticulously crafting each element to elevate the nonprofit’s online presence. Her hard work and heartfelt dedication to the project resulted in a visually stunning and highly functional website—ultimately leading to a staggering 260% increase in member registration within 3 months of the website design’s launch.

Notably, Trisnadi’s design prowess didn’t go unnoticed. The finished website caught the attention of prominent publications, such as Fast Company, CreativeBloq, and the Blog, further highlighting her ability to create engaging experiences and deliver measurable results through her designs.

The outcome of this project serves as a testament to Trisnadi’s unwavering commitment to using design as a means of problem-solving and innovation. By understanding the unique challenges faced by the nonprofit, she identified areas of improvement and implemented creative solutions to drive results, all while remaining true to her mission of designing for underrepresented communities.

Breaking barriers with the Urban ASL app

Valerie Trisnadi’s Urban ASL app demonstrates her ability to break down communication barriers and make a real, positive impact on younger generations. The animated iMessage sticker app seamlessly incorporates trendy slang in American Sign Language (ASL), catering to the Gen-Z audience and bringing the language to a whole new demographic of users. To date, the app has amassed over 20,000 downloads, showcasing the success of Trisnadi’s innovative approach to ASL accessibility.

“The Urban ASL app was born out of my realization that ASL was not receiving the recognition it deserved as a vital language. My goal was to raise awareness of ASL as a living language and spark interest in learning it among hearing individuals,” Trisnadi explains. “To address this, I developed the Urban ASL iMessage sticker app after conducting research with the help of the Deaf community. This engaging app allowed users to incorporate ASL animations of common Gen-Z phrases into their iMessage conversations.”

Trisnadi’s innovative mindset, starting with the success of the nonprofit website she created during her time at, also played a crucial role in the development of the Urban ASL app. Trisnadi identified the need for an engaging and accessible way to introduce ASL to a younger audience and create a connection between the Deaf and hearing communities. The app’s Gen-Z-oriented slang and playful animations foster an inclusive environment for learning and interaction, effectively bridging the gap between these two communities.

The IKEA collaboration

Valerie Trisnadi presenting her innovative design concept for IKEA's Delaktig collection to IKEA executives and the press in 2017.
Trisnadi presents her concept for IKEA’s Delaktig collection in front of press and IKEA executives (2017).

In 2017, as a freshman at Parsons School of Design, Valerie Trisnadi embarked on an incredible opportunity that would significantly impact her design journey. As the youngest of 20 aspiring designers, Trisnadi was selected to participate in a collaboration with world-renowned designer Tom Dixon and global brand IKEA. Working on their Delaktig collection, Trisnadi developed a concept that would eventually be showcased in The New York Times and the Milan Furniture Fair 2017.

The Delaktig collection focused on modular and adaptable solutions, an innovative approach that required Trisnadi to break away from conventional design processes and truly think outside the box. Reflecting on this experience, she said, “This collaboration was a catalyst for my growth as a designer, providing me with invaluable lessons that continue to shape my approach to design projects. Working alongside a renowned designer like Tom Dixon and a global brand like IKEA exposed me to diverse perspectives and expertise, enabling me to push the boundaries of my own design thinking.”

Trisnadi attributes the success of her design concept to the range of skills she developed during the collaboration, including conceptualization and visual storytelling. “Being a freshman at Parsons School of Design at the time, it was a tremendous honor to be selected by IKEA to contribute to their project. I honed my skills in conceptualization and visual storytelling, which ultimately led to my design concept being showcased in notable platforms such as The New York Times and Milan Furniture Fair 2017.”

As Trisnadi looks back at the IKEA collaboration, she underscores the importance of embracing challenges and pushing through limitations. “…This experience taught me the significance of taking risks, pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, and embracing opportunities that come my way,” she explained. It is clear that this collaboration marked a pivotal moment for the young designer, who would go on to transform the lives of countless individuals through her innovative problem-solving skills and unique design talents.

Commitment to designing for underrepresented communities and understanding future goals

From the heart of Jakarta, Indonesia, to the bustling streets of San Francisco, Valerie Trisnadi’s design journey has been driven by her unwavering desire to create innovative solutions for underrepresented communities. Through her work, she constantly seeks to bridge the gap between design and social impact, recognizing the power she holds as a designer to make a difference.

“As a designer, choosing projects that align with my beliefs and vision is of utmost importance to me,” shared Trisnadi. “I am deeply committed to designing for underrepresented communities and using my skills to make a positive impact. Ultimately, I strive to use my creativity and problem-solving abilities to shape a better world through design.”

Building on her impressive body of work and experience on initiatives like the Urban ASL app and nonprofit website redesigns, Valerie Trisnadi has a clear vision for her future as a designer. Recognizing her potential to make a positive impact, Trisnadi is driven by the desire to address societal issues and create innovative solutions for underrepresented communities. As she articulates in her own words, “Looking ahead, my future goals and aspirations in the design world revolve around continuing to solve real-world problems and driving positive change through my work.”

Emphasizing the transformative power of creativity, Trisnadi strives to push the boundaries of interaction design and illustration and “create innovative and inclusive solutions that resonate with people on a deeper level.” By recognizing the importance of staying versatile and keeping up with the fast-paced nature of the design industry, she is determined to remain in sync with cutting-edge trends and technologies. This adaptability will enable her to tackle future challenges with a fresh perspective, and in turn, inspire others within her field.

Fueling her ambition is the belief that design can serve as a powerful tool for fostering empathy and equality within society, thus contributing to a brighter and more equitable future. In her relentless pursuit of innovation, she understands that her work has the potential to not just create visually compelling experiences, but also to bridge gaps and empower those from underrepresented backgrounds.


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