Mariana Fiorillo is an expert and leader in the field of Interactive Design. She took some time-out to talk to The Industry Leaders about how she moved from a career in Graphic Design to mentoring for the Google Accelerator programme and lecturing at leading universities in Buenos Aires.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I studied for a degree as a Graphic Designer in 2002, and two years later, I started working on web and interaction design. But it wasn't until I finished my first corporate career and began teaching at the same university that I felt that I could go deeper into my discipline.
For the last 16 years, I've worked as a visual designer, UXer, Front-End Developer, Researcher, and Design Strategist, among other things. I'm also a Design Sprint mentor for the Google Accelerator for Startups program LATAM, UX/UI for Immersive Technology Professor at Universidad de Buenos Aires and Usability Professor in the Diploma of Usability and Accessibility at Universidad Tecnológica Nacional in Buenos Aires.
What kind of work does your role involve?
Nowadays, I own my startup called Holistic Interaction (holisticinteraction.com). My partner (Lorena Maceratesi) and I provide strategic design and user-centric solutions for different companies and projects. Some of these projects are Museo del Prado, Teatro Real, RTVE (the client is Paginar), and Ministerio de producción y Trabajo (the client, in this case, being the Argentinian government!).
My role can change depending on the project. However, the core of my work is to facilitate others to see the big picture. To accomplish this goal I do research and, with this information, I run design-thinking workshops.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I love understanding people's needs. The most important part of my job is getting a good idea of what users need to accomplish their task. As a user-centric design and University professor, I've become a better listener. Also, I've learned how to create positive and powerful questions that drive the conversation into new insights.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Someone told me: "everything is holistic" and this is so true - every day I realize how much holistic design can affect small design decisions in human life. Interaction designers are extremely capable people and we have the power and responsibility to make things better in the world; making human life better. For us, it's not just about creating great experiences but also saving a life. Behind every interface exists a designer, from a smartphone to a medical support queue list.
What, or who inspires you?
I learn, and I'm inspired by a lot of colleagues. I have the honour of being part of a great community of professionals, and that inspires me to be a better person and a better designer.
I'm an active member of IxDA Buenos Aires and, during the last few years, the people of this community have helped me to grow and learn. My business partner, Lorena, is also a big inspiration. She is the Chair Director of the technology class where I teach at UBA, and is an example of smart, honest, and strategic work.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I keep up by preparing classes for my students or my clients. I usually do a lot of technology research to understand what is new and trending as part of my projects. I'm also in constant connection with colleagues all around the world. Sometimes it's direct contact, and others it's by attending Meetups or other relevant events.
On top of this, I've participated as a speaker for different communities and universities. This includes Google Design Sprint BA, ILA South America, IxDA BA, Interaction Design Foundation BA, Google Developer Student Clubs, University of Palermo, and the Argentine University of Business (UADE), among others.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
Having my own company, it's a huge challenge. I've been working on this project for the last five years, and I couldn't love it more.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would invest in my company. I believe that we can make things better, which is the sole reason why I am trying to grow H.I.!. Also, I would probably try to accelerate other projects. It makes me happy to see other people's projects growing.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I practice CrossFit and running, but there is nothing like a beer with friends. :)
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
I wish that everyone could understand that we have to use empathy as an instrument to create better experiences. Which means a full comprehension of another person's needs but, most importantly, the intention of hearing and healing that are needed.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
Podcasts: d.MBA, Raise The Bar (ex Woman On Top).
Podcasts for Spanish listeners: “Diseño y diarpora” by Mariana Salgado.
As for books, I'd recommend: "Sprint" by Jake Knapp, "Hacking Growth" by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, "The Elements of the User Experience" by Jesse James Garrett, and "Sofies Welt" by Jostein Gaarder.
How should people connect with you?
You can reach me on my social media and email:
Instagram: @uffdg, @holisticinteraction
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