Maria Giudice on Designing for Unintended Consequences

In an interview with Doreen Lorenzo for Fast Company, Maria Giudice of Hot Studio, described her decision to have her design firm acquired by Facebook and also touched on how the value of design is going through an industry-wide transformation.

Giudice reflected on when she founded Hot Studio at the height of the internet, a time where female-driven design firms were lacking. After 15 years of building a diverse team with a wide variety of cultures, she decided to have the company acquired by Facebook with the comfort of knowing she had brought much needed diversity to the large-scale company with the women and people of color who comprised her team.

The decision came about from an evolving relationship with Facebook’s VP of Product Design, Margaret Stewart, as Hot Studio’s designers were increasingly being hired to supplement her own team. Rather than continuing to recruit more of Giudice’s designers and stifle her firm’s other client work, acquisition not only made more strategic sense, but it accentuated the value of design for business – a stance Giudice and Hot Studio had been defending for years.

As she continues to consult under the Hot Studio name, Giudice explained how everybody wants design now that the intersection of design and business is more prevalent than ever. But not everyone has a solid understanding of its impact on company culture and operations. She provided IBM as an example of a company that embraces a design religion by training everyone in design thinking, and also recounted experiencing a similar business culture from her time at Autodesk which left Giudice with the understanding that companies need enlightened leaders who view design as more than pure execution and are aware of the ethical consequences surrounding innovation.

Especially with the potential of emerging technologies, designers have to consider the ways people might exploit these new technologies. Giudice ended the interview with a warning of being overly optimistic about technological benefits. There has to be an awareness of designing for unintended consequences – to design for evil. Mistakes are inevitable, but we can learn from them and even avoid them by embracing a design thinking methodology that explores every possible outcome.


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