design better, live better.
Gaby Hernández
Designer, Researcher, Principal

An Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at University of Houston—Downtown, Gaby is a multidisciplinary graphic designer, researcher, and educator. Her MFA Creative Project explored ways to visualize the story of the Women’s Association of Chira Island, Costa Rica, through time, space, and voice. She incorporated the D4D methodology into her research and fieldwork practice to explore different ways we can work with community groups. To learn more about her creative project, visit this page. She received her Master in Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Florida.

Gaby believes that graphic design can change people’s life, leverage social change and development, and support entrepreneurship. It is a discipline that can improve systems, information, and the way we communicate, employing a good story as anchor to encourage empathy, and concentrating in the end-user and its context.

She has professional and academic experience in design research, information design, ethnography, mass communication, marketing, and audiovisual and print production. She works as an art director, design researcher and information designer across disciplines, cultures, and contexts, in addition to teaching at UHD and serving as an integral member of D4D.

Maria Rogal photograph
Maria Rogal
Founder, Director

Maria Rogal is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Florida (UF), where she has been teaching since 1997. Her trans-cultural background and perspective influences her work, which focuses on the relationship between culture and design and how we can leverage the potential of design, broadly defined, to positively shape the human experience.

Rogal was awarded a Fulbright-García Robles Scholar grant (2006–2007) and a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad grant (2007) to conduct research in the Yucatán region of Mexico and teach in the Social Communication program at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (www.uady.mx). During this time she led the development of the identity, information design projects, and comprehensive website for the department of immigration for INDEMAYA (Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Cultura Maya) for Yucatán state. It was through these projects that she met people living in marginalized communities and began to focus on ways to apply design for socio-economic development. She also expanded on earlier design research in Mexico by creating the Design for Development (D4D) initiative in which graphic design students and faculty work with artisans, farmers, and organizers in Maya communities to explore ways design processes and products, and designers, can foster local development projects. In 2008 she received the inaugural American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Design Research Grant to continue the D4D initiative and presented papers on aspects of this work at GLIDE ‘10: Global Interaction in Design (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)—where she was awarded best paper—and at MX09 Design Conference: Social Impact of Design (Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City). She contributed to the AIGA New Contexts/New Practices Social Economies thread (AIGA Design Education Conference October 2010) and to the ICOGRADA Design Education Manifesto Update, launched in October 2011, and her article “Identity and Representation: (Yucatec) Maya in the Visual Culture of Tourism” was published in the Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies Journal.