Ayse Birsel grew up in Izmir, Turkey.
In 1989 she received a Fulbright Scholarship to complete her Master's Degree at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY.
Her 1993 design of the Zoë Washlet spearheaded Japanese manufacturer TOTO's entry into the US market and has unofficially been coined the world's most comfortable toilet seat.
In 1996 she founded Olive 1:1. Birsel received a gold Industrial Design Excellence IDSA award for the Resolve system, her reinterpretation of the office cubicle for Herman Miller.
In 2002, her collaboration with Bibi Seck on the design of a concept automobile interior for Renault led to the creation of their studio Birsel + Seck.
Recipient of the 2001 Young Designer Award from the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Birsel was a finalist at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards in 2002.
She was named a Fellow at the International Design Conference at Aspen, and has taught at Pratt Institute.
Her work is in the permanent collections of Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.