Mariana Prieto

video / alumni

About Alumni Awards

The Alumni Awards provide an opportunity for ArtCenter to publicly recognize the talent, service and influence of our alumni.

2021 Alumni Awards

Mariana Prieto, Young Innovator

Since graduating from ArtCenter, Mariana Prieto (BS 12 Product Design) has been working at the forefront of social change, from addressing challenges facing underserved communities to designing solutions for wild animals.

As founder of Design for Wildlife, a collective that works with wildlife conservation organizations, she strives to achieve large-scale, economically sustainable solutions for wildlife-related challenges.

Mariana Prieto

By designing for people, we can protect wildlife.

Mariana Prieto

Humans and wild animals are always bound to intersect. Prieto recognizes the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life on earth—whether they are coyotes with Angelenos, elephants with farmers or saltwater crocodiles with ranchers.

"When you look at conservation issues, a great majority of them exist because of the way people behave," she says. "By designing for people, we can protect wildlife."

ArtCenter and the Designmatters program were essential in supporting Prieto's search for a career in social impact design—in fact, one of her first pivotal projects happened while she attended ArtCenter.

A team, including Prieto, were tasked with developing and prototyping a washer-dryer that could work without modern utilities. The design solution was deceptively simple, a kind of barrel with an inner chamber and a foot pedal to make it spin. 

But there was an unexpected discovery: The device changed the social fabric of the community. While laundry had traditionally been the province of women, the pedal power prompted men to take on the task.

Previous to her career in wildlife conservation, Prieto worked as Innovation Lead for the International Rescue Committee and served as Global Design Fellow for—working on projects across East Africa and Asia, from reducing teen pregnancies in Zambia to building social enterprises for female farmers in India.

In other words, Prieto's practice incorporates much more than design: She's a social scientist, a strategist, an inventor, an educator, an adventurer, a humanitarian, and above all, a romantic.