Maria Giudice joins Autodesk today as the company’s first vice president of experience design. She will be focused on integrating the look and feel of all of our 100+ products, and ensuring that the customer remains at the center as we build products. Maria was founder and CEO of interactive design firm Hot Studio and joins the company from Facebook, where she led the platform design team as a product design director. Is she excited to join Autodesk? You bet.
Q: What drew you to Autodesk, Maria?
A: I’ve admired Autodesk for a long time and have always been impressed with Carl Bass as a leader, maker and teacher.
Rewind back to a few years ago when my son started using Autodesk software at his elementary school in Oakland. He was so proud to show me his latest creation designed in Maya; however, what struck me was the generosity displayed by the company and Carl in granting software to schools that expose kids to design early, ultimately paving a pathway to a creative career.
According to a 2010 survey of 1,500 CEOs, creativity was cited as the most important leadership trait for the future. But our education system is no longer wired to unlock this important skill in school. Whole generations of kids don’t realize that they can pursue a career based on their skills as creative thinkers and makers.
Carl’s commitment to inspiring the next generation of creative thinkers sold me on the company and brand. I’ve met other Autodeskers at industry conferences over the years, and they all shared a sense of warmth, enthusiasm for design, and most importantly, excitement about the company’s role in changing how the world is designed and made.
Q: What excites you most about your new job?
A: I have spent the majority of my career working in the virtual, digital realm. I’ve been really lucky to grow as a designer by trying out new things throughout my professional career. I’m ready for my next adventure in helping Autodesk and its customers transform the physical world.
Creativity and making has increasingly become democratized with affordable technology, easy to use tools, and an appetite for DIY. As our world becomes increasingly more digital, the psychological need for craft and making will continue to increase.
While it is technically my first day, I couldn’t feel more at home at Autodesk, and I can’t wait to be around people who are making stuff again. I’m excited to be part of the future we are helping to imagine, design, and create together.
Q: Tell us about your design philosophy.
A: I’ve always focused on intelligent, elegant, people-centered design throughout my professional life. I feel like pragmatic, authentic approaches are really important, and that’s what helps design be critical to business. I founded Hot Studio with the goal to create breakthrough products and services that had global impact, and we felt like our Fortune 500 clients really benefitted from that. I can’t wait to get started working alongside the talented design team at Autodesk and to bring my experience with interactive design to this software leader.
Q: Who’s your favorite designer?
That is a difficult question to answer because I consider the definition of a designer as someone who takes risks, lives in a world between analytics and pure gut intuition, and creates meaning through the lens of change. I have many design heroes, so I’ll just name a few: Tibor Kalman, Dave Eggers,
Emily Pilloton, Lynda Weinman, and John Maeda.
Maria Giudice is vice president of experience design for Autodesk. She joins the company from Facebook, where she led the platform design team as product design director. In 1997 she founded Hot Studio, an experience design firm which was acquired by Facebook in 2013. She has written many books on design, and her latest, coauthored with Christopher Ireland, is Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design.
Maria holds a bachelor of fine arts from Cooper Union. She was recognized as Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by the Women’s Initiative, a Bay-Area non-profit that helps provide economic opportunity and education to low-income, high-promise women. In 2012, Maria was named an AIGA Fellow, in recognition of her impact in raising the standards of excellence and conduct within the design community.
Find her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter at @mgiudice.