Photo of Bern Irizarry

UX as Change Agent with Bernadette Irizarry

August 13, 2018 by UX-RADIO

If you have spent anytime in the Los Angeles tech community, you’ve probably heard of Bernadette Irizarry. She started her Design consultancy, Velvet Hammer back in 2003, and has since then developed award-winning products and experiences for several well-known brands. In this episode she talks with us about the role of UX as a change agent.


  • 1:00 UX as Change Agent
  • 2:30 What is the biggest challenge to be a change agent? Facilitation, Stakeholder mapping, etc.   
  • 5:25 The most difficult problem is not the design, it’s the execution of the organization (vision, operational chops to give it life)
  • 10:30 How upfront and open are you about being a change agent? Is it formal or informal?
  • 16:00 hierarchy and rules of who can talk to whom
  • 17:00 Being a volunteeraholic and Bern’s commitment to community
  • 24:00 Why the name Velvet Hammer?
  • 27:00 How is your approach different?
  • 33:15 What advice would you give to designers just getting started?
  • 34:40 What would you like your legacy to be?



A creative leader with roots in graphic design and sculpture, Bern delights in combining the aesthetic with the usable. She has developed award-winning experiences and holds two patents in color-selection methods. Whether launching a business-changing product, revamping a company division, or piloting an internal service to support operations, Bern relishes the juicy problems that can only be solved when designers and change agents collaborate.

Dedicated to empowering women to design and code, she can be found on weekend mornings teaching UX and prototyping. Bern sits on the board of AIGA Los Angeles and actively speaks on empathy, branding and how to inspire high-performance teams.