Innovator, artist, protagonist, and positive provocateur—Maria has pursued a vision of intelligent, elegant, people-centered design throughout her professional life. Her grasp of the pragmatic, the authentic, and the essential have kept Maria at the forefront of the intersection of design and business for over 20 years.


Under Maria's leadership, Hot Studio has grown from a two-person outfit into a full-service creative agency with offices in San Francisco and New York City. Along the way, Maria has shaped Hot into a people-centered product in its own right—a company that people want to work at, and clients love to work with. Hot Studio has been named to Inc. Magazine’s Top 5,000 fastest-growing businesses every year since 2008, and in 2011 was inducted into the San Francisco Business Times’ Hall of Fame.

Maria’s career began in Richard Saul Wurman’s East Coast office, where she was an early practitioner in the then-nascent fields of information architecture and design. Her experience led to work as co-author and designer of several award-winning books including Elements of Web Design, a guide for print designers crossing over to the Web, and Web Design Essentials.

Maria has more than 20 years of experience working with and mentoring people from different disciplines. Known for her candor and wit, she has spoken about design and the power of collaboration at conferences throughout the U.S. and abroad, including TEDxPresidio, SXSW, and AIGA’s Design Conference. She teaches regularly at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and in California College of the Arts’ DMBA and MFA programs.

Maria holds a BFA 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.