XJTLU offered me new perspectives on design

February 13, 2023

Adam Kuzma, a Polish alumnus of Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (BEng Architecture, 2021), highlights how his studies gave him vital skills and perspectives that continue to influence his work in product design.

He is currently a Senior User Experience Designer in New York at Signet Jewelers, one of the world's largest diamond jewellery retailers.

Kuzma in New York

Kuzma's interest in China began by studying Chinese language and culture before he ever set foot in the country. However, during a trip to China as a tourist, he decided to pursue his education there.

“I visited different universities in China. XJTLU stood out for its welcoming and friendly admission office, the straightforward application process, and diverse international environment,” he says.

Before attending XJTLU, Kuzma had experience in web development, but design was what sparked his passion. He decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in architecture at XJTLU to explore this further. Although Kuzma eventually decided not to continue in architecture after graduation, he notes that his studies at XJTLU prepared him well for his current role:

“Studying architecture, I learned design thinking, collaborating with others, and how to communicate my designs effectively, skills that I apply now as a product designer.”

Kuzma at XJTLU

Project perspectives

Kuzma also highlights the value of ample opportunities at XJTLU for students to participate in competitions and present their work both within and beyond the university.

“It’s super exciting to be able to show your projects to other people and get a different perspective.”

One notable experience for him was a project that took students to Suzhou's Old Town, where they were tasked with analysing sections of the historic area and creating detailed maps and visual designs.

Kuzma at XJTLU

“We created a detailed three-dimensional map, documenting what the local architecture, landscape, materials and activities were like, along with the quality of the canal that was part of the area.” This opportunity allowed Kuzma to showcase his work to a large group of people and gain valuable feedback.

In addition, Kuzma was selected to be part of a volunteer student group providing design feedback to XJTLU's learning management app for students. He notes that this experience provided him the chance to align his interests with the needs of the University, and was particularly satisfying when he later noticed that some of his design suggestions were implemented within the app.

Culture and design

Kuzma also reflects on how his time in China broadened his perspective on how cultural differences can impact product design. He notes the prevalence of “super apps” in China, such as WeChat, which offers a wide range of services in a single platform.  In contrast, Western mobile apps are commonly more specific and single-purpose, he says.

“Western apps tend to be simple, usually oriented around a single task, often divided into separate screens where you make one decision at a time. Chinese apps are sometimes like a Swiss army knife – a single screen with all the information available at once.”

“It’s really interesting for me to ask where those differences come from. I’m curious about cultural differences that influence the design of things and I think that’s a unique skill that developed through studying at a university in China.”

Looking back

Kuzma may currently reside in New York, but Suzhou will always hold a special place in his heart.

“I greatly miss the people, tranquil atmosphere and the accessibility of outdoor spaces such as lakes and gardens. I loved being able to quickly travel by fast trains between Suzhou, Shanghai and Hangzhou. The night food scene in Suzhou was also incredibly memorable, with many people gathering late at night to enjoy food. I fondly look back on my time at XJTLU in China, and I think it was an exciting journey.”


By Tianjiao Zhang

Edited by Yi Qian and Tamara Kaup

Photos courtesy of Adam Kuzma

February 13, 2023


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