What Industrial Design Taught Me about Simplicity – a Q&A with Mariel Pina, Product Designer at Trusona

At Trusona, thoughtful, user-centered design is at the heart of what we do. We know that our customers want a seamless authentication experience, and our designers are constantly striving to making our  technology as human as can be.

One of our designers, Mariel Pina, has a unique perspective on simple design that has a profound effect on the world around her. From her background as an industrial designer to her passion for making a difference, Mariel sees the “little hows” and “big why” of the work we do at Trusona improving the safety of the internet. Mariel joined Trusona as a product designer, leading the company’s mission to replace passwords through identity experience and designing the tools for onboarding and authentication experiences. Follow along as we learn more about Mariel’s journey:

You’re a product designer here at Trusona – have you always wanted to pursue UX design?

“Not at all, but I’m happy to have found my way here! I didn’t even know what design was until I was about 20. I had wanted to be a painter for a long time, thinking it was my ticket to creativity and freedom, so I began my studies in Fine Arts. Then I read “Design Like You Give a Damn” by Cameron Sinclair and everything changed. I ultimately graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Industrial Design from the University of Houston.  

My education taught me the power of invisible design, and that beyond beauty and aesthetic, design impacts how we function as a society. Successful design is about understanding people: how very different we are, but at the core how very much the same. It requires research and empathy to understand how people view things, and why they believe in them. You can improve people’s lives through thoughtful design that takes into account all types of perspectives. I was the only woman to graduate from my Industrial Design program that year, and did so Cum Laude.”

What was the most difficult part about getting to where you are today?

“After moving back to the United States from Mexico, there were a number of important things I had to learn and overcome. Assimilating into the culture and learning the language came first, and ultimately I enrolled in a highly-demanding program. During college, I became a mom. As you can imagine, this created unique challenges during my senior year — managing my academic workload, completing an internship at a multi-disciplinary design studio working on a large project for an omni-channel solutions company, finishing my senior thesis project, all while learning how to be a mom! It was something else.

What are you most proud of?

“My thesis project was based on Mexican industrial design from the 1900s, reflecting my Mexican heritage and approach to design. Believing that simple living and industrial design can coexist, I created a double function kitchen utensil that combines a colander and a cheese grater. The project was recognized by several awards and organizations I had long admired. I realized there was an appetite for the product, and so began my dream of making it a reality for consumers.

Six years passed but after many leads, prototypes, and material samples in addition to raising my second child, my husband (and design partner)and I finally flew to Wisconsin to see the finished product, ready for distribution. The project became a product in 2016, and is available through Royal Prestige. To see the product come to life and become a household item was an amazing feeling, because it represented so much of who I was and how I had gotten there. It was particularly special to me because the market for the product was primarily members of the Hispanic and Latin American community. In this way, the project truly came full circle.”

What an incredible accomplishment. How did your journey in product design eventually lead you to Trusona?

“A few years ago, I met Kevin Goldman, the Chief Design Officer of Trusona at a meet-up event and I knew I wanted to be a part of the Trusona mission. By eliminating passwords, we are making the Internet safer. The design team plays a part in making that experience not just secure, but seamless and delightful as we are constantly thinking of the end-user.

I think of the work I do at Trusona in terms of the “big whys and little hows.” Some days I’m working on the minutiae of a project, like tweaking a prototype – these are the “little hows” that make a big difference. They intrinsically move us towards the end goal which inspired our action in the first place: “the big why.”

At Trusona, my “big why” is making a lasting impact on people’s lives by building a safer digital world. I always wanted to apply myself to something that makes a difference. At Trusona, our mission is about more than a company. It is about changing the landscape of Internet security, and making everyone’s lives safer, easier, and simpler through the power of design and hardwork. It doesn’t hurt to work alongside smart, dedicated people who believe the same thing!”

Karen Dayan