15 Buzzwords for 15 Years: INNOVATION

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Mari Nakano February 3, 2016

Mari Nakano

Innovation is deliberate. It’s about solving problems without creating new ones. It’s about taking risks and discovering new alternatives. As much as innovation is about looking forward into the future, it is also about being able to look in retrospect at your life, pulling into the present some of the most valuable relics and pieces of information you have sculpted in your past in order to create something to move us all forward.

Designmatters, by its very nature, has been innovating since its inception, allowing designers to insert themselves into social impact spaces in ways we couldn’t years ago. It has not only carved out places for designers to give of themselves, but it has refined how we participate in those spaces so we can be the most impactful creatives for the organizations we work with. Designmatters truly contributed to my trajectory as a designer in the social impact space and I don’t think I would be leading the UNICEF Innovation Unit’s design team if it weren’t for my involvement with Designmatters.


For me, innovation is not just about a cool product, it’s an approach to life. To innovate is to enable one to share our natural empathy and be able to allow others a new means for expression. Innovation is something humans and other creatures have been doing forever, be it by instinct or experimentation. We innovate to survive and to create positive solutions to simplify and better our lives.


Mari Nakano has been a designer for over 11 years and has worked with such notables as the United Nations Population Fund, ArtWorks Projects, Women Deliver, Pepsi Co. and Design Continuum. She was also a 2008 Designmatters Fellow and has continued to support Designmatters for the past 7 years. Currently Mari is the Visual Design Lead for the UNICEF Innovation Unit, stationed in New York City and is the recipient of the 2015 ArtCenter Young Innovator Alumni Award.

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