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Thokozani Mabena

Design Strategy
Relevant Experience


User Experience and Strategic Designer

Nissan Design America Research Center - Silicone Valley , CA

September 2017 - June 2018


Challenged traditional thinking within the Interior Design team to influence future forward innovation while supporting global and strategic priorities across functional teams. Delivered flexibility and evolution while respecting the cultural heritage of Nissan Japan. Redefined the brand vision through conceptual design proposals that push the boundaries of user experience and product innovation within the Nissan / Infiniti ecosystem.

Vehicle and Mobility Systems Design Strategist

Rivian Automotive - Detroit, MI

May - December 2016 


 Lead user research and design concept development of interior and exterior for premium electric vehicles, transforming the team collaboration between design, engineering, business strategy and leadership, resulting in a high performance workplace environment. Designed and developed the strategic and creative implementation of two new electrical intelligent adventure AWD platform vehicles for a high profile client, set to launch in 2019. Challenged existing systems to successfully deliver current and future transportation concepts and solutions from concept to execution.


Interior and User Experience Design Intern

Volkswagen Audi Design Center - Los Angeles, CA

April - December 2015


Sole intern for the new concepts program that investigates the future connection between humans and machines. Developed advanced automotive interior and interaction design projects through innovative design proposals that redefine the experience of human mobility. Managed multiple projects in different phases, while effectively maintaining expectations of budget, schedule and quality. Offered a UX/UI position in Volksburg, Germany.

Senior Architectural Designer

Graham Downes Architectural - San Diego, CA

January 2010 - April 2012


Collaborated with Oakley design studio to conceptualize a brand identity for their global retail experiences. Developed and designed then ground breaking initiatives in co-working studios named Blokhaus. Partnered with international investors to rapidly design and implement over fifty retail environments for LoveCulture. Coordinated site-visits to review and approve joinery and textures while assisting contractor and supplier communication management regarding: sourcing, construction & reviews. Organized schematic design packages for a multitude of speculative projects and development projects.

Architectural Designer

Orcutt Winslow Architects - Phoenix, AZ

January 2007 - December 2009


Co-trained over 200 employees in BIM (Building information modeling Process) software tools: Graphisoft ArchiCAD for various department studios including extended living, healthcare and education. Co-ordinated consultant efforts, identified barriers and resolved design issues as they emerged during the construction phase.

Education & Certification

Art Center College of Design   

BS: Transportation Design

Graduated: 2017

Pasadena, CA



University of Cape Town  

BAS: Architectural Studies

Graduated: 2006  (Honors)

South Africa













Dot Magazine // Publication

Student Feature, 2017



ArtCenter College of Design

Transportation Department

Scholarship, 2012 -2017



Nissan Design America

Scholarship, 2015 & 2016



Educational Partnerships // Publication

New Car Experiences // 2015



Auto UI // Publication

Wearable Seat, 2015



Patent // Intel + Landrover Jaguar

Wearable Seat, 2015



ArtCenter College of Design 

Student Gallery, 2014



Designmatters // Publication

Nike Girleffect, 2014



San Diego Metro // Publication

Business Report, 2011




TEDX San Diego // Speaker

Lines in motion, 2011



Awards & Recognitions
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