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Xenia Viladas

About me

Born in Barcelona and raised in Paris, I came into the design world serendipitously. Design was frowned upon in my home when I was growing up, so my academic career began in economics. I eventually found my way to design following my desire to grasp every opportunity to learn and do something meaningful. After spending five years as Deputy Director at the Barcelona Design Center, I joined a design school in the city to teach and conduct research, and eventually completed my Master in Design Management at the University of Westminster. When I’m not consulting, lecturing and teaching, I’m spending time with my two children and my puppy or watching movies, cooking and swimming.

Embracing change outside of the mainstream

Xenia’s career has been colored by diverse and impactful experiences, all leading up to her current role teaching the Bachelor of Design and Master in Customer Experience and Innovation programs at IE University. Xenia credits her first gig at a textile trade association for building her knowledge in business management and corporate strategy. Following her first-ever professional job there, she moved into freelance work, working for market research companies, designers and publicists.

In 1994, Professor Viladas joined the Barcelona Design Center as Deputy Director, leaving five years later as the center’s General Director. There, she helped promote design as a competitive tool for companies and as a means to improve individuals’ quality of life. She put on her research and teaching caps when she joined a design school in Barcelona, before going on to complete her Master of Business Administration in Design Management at the University of Westminster in London.

Later on as CEO of a Ministry of Industry organization called Sociedad Estatal para la Promoción del Diseño y la Innovación—a state-run organization dedicated to promoting design and innovation—Xenia assisted in devising and implementing the local government’s design policy. After leaving in 2008, she returned to consulting, lecturing and teaching internationally before moving on to teach service design at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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While teaching in both Bachelor of Design and Master in Customer Experience and Innovation programs at IE University—which she adores, thanks to the school’s eager, driven students and the campus’ diversity—she continues to consult in strategy and service design, helping small businesses get up to speed with the most advanced management practices used by leaders in the industry.

Outside of teaching and advising, Xenia dedicates her life to her daughter and son—and her houseplants. Whether she’s knitting, swimming, cooking or gardening, you’ll never see her without her beloved maltipoo, Gimlet.

"Pay attention to people because they will make you better. Work hard, because luck only comes around once you have put in the effort."
Xenia Viladas

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