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Hello, I’m Annette Diefenthaler

Portfolio Director, IDEO San Francisco

As a Portfolio Director, I lead our Design For Learning Studio, a group of designers passionate about bringing human-centered design to education. I enjoy taking on the complex, systemic challenges of designing schools and school models to create educational experiences that kids love.

What you won’t learn from my bio:
I trained to be a carpenter and worked on construction sites in my early twenties. I still love working with power tools whenever I can.

Joined IDEO:

Full Bio

Annette Diefenthaler is a Portfolio Director at IDEO’s Design For Learning Studio in San Francisco. Her passion is bringing human-centered design to systemic challenges in education. Annette’s work focuses on the design of schools, school models, and educational experiences. She has worked with clients in K–12 and higher ed, designing innovative school models, empowering entrepreneurs to design teaching apps, rethinking teacher development programs, and envisioning a new educational model for an entire state. Annette is co-author of IDEO’s “Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators.”

Annette is invested in evolving methodologies for research that inspires design and explores how students and teachers can be involved in catalyzing new design solutions. Her work has received multiple design awards.

She taught at New York University and co-designed a fellowship program for New Majority students at The New School of Public Engagement with Dean David Scobey.

Since joining IDEO in January 2008, Annette has guided teams in designing bank branches, toys, hospital experiences, multiple services for chronic disease patients, and organizational change programs. She has extensive experience in designing solutions in the area of healthcare.

Prior to IDEO, Annette worked with the Industrial Design Management Department of Vodafone Global in Germany and brand development company The One Centre in Sydney, Australia. She holds a master's degree from Köln International School of Design.

Now based in San Francisco, Annette grew up in Germany and has lived and worked in many cultural contexts, including Russia, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, and most recently New York City. In her free time, she is usually training for her next marathon.