How to Design the Life You Love: Insights from Award-Winning Designer, Ayse Birsel

How to Design the Life You Love: Insights from Award-Winning Designer, Ayse Birsel

In February, Ayse Birsel, award-winning designer & author, stopped by Inspiration Space to share her wisdom and advice.

Ayse is the co-founder Birsel + Seck, an award-winning New design and innovation studio based in New York.

Their innovative approach to design has won numerous awards and has been featured in publications like The New York Times, Fast Company, and Forbes 🤩.

Just before the pandemic, Ayse started innovative work with Amazon and a foundation in LA focused on co-designing ageing experiences for people aged 65 to 90.

The result? Her latest book, "Design the Long Life You Love."

Ayse Birsel is known for helping businesses find innovative solutions to complex problems.

She's collaborated with big names like Johnson & Johnson, designing Acuvue Oasys contact lenses that won a prestigious award. Yet, her journey wasn't always smooth.

During the 2008 economic crash, Ayse found herself struggling to find work.

Inspired by a conversation with her BFF, Creative Director Leah Caplan, this challenging time led Ayse to explore her creative process, resulting in her unique  "Deconstruction: Reconstruction,"  approach.

Now, Ayse believes that our lives are our greatest projects.

By applying design thinking principles, we can create a life we love.

Design The Long  Life You Love

Recently, Ayse shifted her focus to advocating for an inclusive design. In particular the idea of "designing an ageing you love."

When Ayse shared her interest with a past client, they immediately responded, "I need you NOW," and they were off to the races.

The research was focused on reframing ageing as a positive thing and designing products, systems, services, and experiences for this era, which did not exist before.

Birsel believes that design can be used to positively impact people's lives, and this project is a testament to that.

"I've always been interested in things that didn't exist before, and bemoan the fact that, oh, shoot, like I wish I was here when automobiles were invented, or I wish I were here as one of the first filmmakers because then you have something new to work with."

Reframing Aging: Life Through Design

Ayse's work with Amazon and an LA-based foundation has created an innovative approach to aging, seeing it as a positive, exciting life stage.

By focusing on the gift of time, she's inspired new products and services for older adults, like Lyft's Concierge Service for seniors with mobility challenges.

Through research and interviews, Ayse has become a strong advocate for designing solutions tailored to seniors' needs.

This approach encourages individuals to apply the same design thinking principles used to create products and services to their own lives.

"Our life is our biggest project. And so I thought, now that I have a design process and if our life is a design project, can I apply this process to our life?" said Ayse.

Missed the session? Here are five key takeaways. Use them to design a long life you love:

Design your life. Don't let it happen to you.

"Design thinking is a way of life. It's not just a method of problem-solving but also a way of living. And so, what I teach is a methodology that can be applied to our lives, to design the life we love," says Ayse.

Embrace change and uncertainty

"Change is something that we need to embrace because it's constant. It's a given," she said. "It's about being comfortable with being uncomfortable and embracing the uncertainty."

Work with your friends and share

"Share your experiences because when we come together and share our experiences, knowledge, and resources, we can achieve more than we could on our own."

Ayse acknowledges that protecting ideas is not always possible but also believes in sharing them.

In her words, "If I don't share, things don't happen. So I trust that I'm in the company of decent people with ethics...but, not everyone can be trusted."

Find inspiration in the world around you

"You need to find inspiration in the world around you. And that means opening your eyes, being curious, and finding new ways to look at things," Ayse advises.

Ageing is a design challenge

"Inclusivity matters. The challenge of designing for ageing is an opportunity for designers to create something new and valuable and positively impact people's lives."

Head over to to find out more about Ayse's new book plus tools and resources you can use to design a long life you love.

Are you an Inspiration Space member? Check out the replay here!