Founder of Ser Paraíso and UX design practitioner
If you’ve ever thought the process of preparing a master’s thesis would be a cheerless slog through interminable research and mind-numbing revision, consider this: when Diana Castro earned an M.S. in Integrated Digital Media, her thesis project involved creating a music box that incorporated sound to aid its user in meditating, finding a sense of inner joy, and projecting calm.
And if your picture of a driven, young entrepreneur with a highly sought-after degree includes a high-pressure start-up space with a cutthroat culture and hours of paper-pushing, you’d be equally mistaken: Castro’s enterprise, Ser Paraíso, might have involved some pushing of paper, but that was because she was using it to create colorful notebooks, art prints, greeting cards, and other such objects — all designed with the consumer’s well-being in mind. “I have long studied metaphysics, and I realized that whatever path I took had to be a meaningful and spiritual one,” she says, “so I design objects that are meant to help people with intention-setting and self-care.”
A native of Mexico, she has worked in a variety of mediums, creating album covers; mounting interactive installations for festivals and performances; and fashioning synthesizers out of fabric and other soft materials for a series of performance pieces that explored shamanism and ritual through new media and technology.
In high school, she has recalled, she was always the person called upon to make group projects aesthetically pleasing and curate the music for parties, and studying Integrated Digital Media allowed her to combine her love of sound and art in a holistic way. “If you asked me who my inspirations and mentors in the program, I really couldn’t list them all,” she says. “Certainly Luke DuBois, who heads IDM, and De Angela Duff, but so many others as well.” In recent years, Castro has been dividing her time between Ser Paraíso and a newer enterprise that finds her concentrating on user experience (UX) for such clients as the New York Philharmonic, PBS, and UNESCO.
She says she hustles every day in order to grow her businesses but still makes time for fun so she does not burn out. Her other advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who don’t picture themselves in a difficult, relentless work environment: “Believe in your intuition and vision, trust that they will lead you to where you want to go next, and stay curious!”