trace manuel

end-to-end service design & research
beginning-to-end storytelling

If you're looking for a devotedly multimedia and deeply ambivalent designer who prioritizes people, process, and poetics: you're one of the few.

But I'm glad you're here.

I'm what happens when someone with a background in art, music, and teaching is allowed unrestricted access to whiteboards and sticky notes. Over the years, my practice has blurred many lines between craft, creativity, and scholarship — I've worked in painting studios, recording studios, fitness studios, classrooms, museums, hospitals, research labs, crisis clinics, several almond orchards, the occasional barn, and more than one bar band. It shows. 

Over the years, I've spun up everything from short films to radio specials to syllabi to hand-coded bots. Need a poster typeset? Need a beat for something? How about an interactive fiction game? Or a custom card deck to facilitate a one-of-a-kind, immersive futuring experience for you and your team? I've built it. 

I take care of the people I work with through a holistic, facilitation-forward service design practice that dignifies the everyday struggles of living in a human body with a human mind. I come equipped with an MS in Community Development, an MFA in Design, and an IDK in everything else (but I'm always ready to find out the hard way).

some past work

  • educational tools for pain patients, thoughtfully redesigned medical forms, and a pilot chronic pain storytelling project at DiPi
  • board games to explore complex public safety scenarios at the UC Davis Prototyping Systems Lab
  • an entire curriculum around documentation, self-reflection, and creative storytelling (published in my public MFA thesis website)

some present work

  • blueprints, decks, and miscellaneous workshop materials as a senior service designer at Headspace, working on making mental healthcare more accessible (and joyful) for patients and providers alike
  • lots of coaching sessions for emerging designers and contemplative creative types as I work to completing my training hours for the NBHWC coaching exam

To see more of my work, get in touch below.

I'm always looking to connect with folks doing heart-centered creative work, and I especially try to support students and new grads whenever I can. Let's talk.