Hello, I’m Michelle Lee

Partner and Managing Director, IDEO Play Lab

Leading IDEO’s Design for Play team, I bring captivating, interactive experiences to market. I’m passionate about designing not only the best toys and games, but also the most engaging experiences in workplace culture, education, health, and the many other areas where we could all use a little more play.

What you won't learn from my bio:
For many years, my brother and I were the kids pictured in the snow globes sold in the gift shop at San Francisco’s largest science museum—we modeled in return for ice cream!

Joined IDEO:

My Work

Full Bio

As a Partner and Managing Director of IDEO's Play Lab, Michelle Lee leads an integrated research, design, and development team that brings engaging, interactive, and playful experiences to market. Building upon IDEO’s 30+ years in toy invention and Michelle’s own background in toy design, the lab leverages the principles of play to connect with people on a deeper emotional level that captivates, delights, and empowers. 

Michelle is an expert at addressing difficult challenges and creating meaningful change across industries by applying a lens of play. She has helped clients enhance workplace culture, championed responsible digital design, inspired underrepresented students to pursue careers in STEM, and supported organizations as they adopted practices in line with a circular economy. Michelle has shared her passion for play at SXSW, The Delight Conference, The Culture Summit, and through numerous podcasts and articles.

Prior to IDEO, Michelle fueled her passion for play by designing toys at VTech and University Games, while lead product roles at thredUP and ShopWell ignited her spirit of entrepreneurship. Michelle holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in the Joint Program in Design from Stanford University, where she has also served as an instructor. Outside of work, Michelle is regularly inspired by her two kids, with whom she finds joy in baking elaborate cookies, sketching, exploring, and learning to play new tunes on the guitar.