Stephanie Badua-Smail

Stephanie Badua-Smail

Warm, goofy but ambitious lifelong learner that was a florist in another lifetime (Graphic Design Student & Valley Water Design Intern)



Member Since

March 2024

Hello! 🙂 As a BFA Graphic Design student with an expected graduation of May 2025, I am consistently experimenting and pushing myself with design. With this ever growing knowledge about design, I’ve found a desired focus on Environmental Design and creating cherished memories for guests. I design with the hopes of making a difference in my community and uplifting resources to facilitate empathy. I take action with these values as the President of Women in Design at SJSU, encouraging sustainability as an intern at Valley Water, and my other many volunteer actions that involve design being used to help others.

Ask me about

The benefits of kombucha. Why I loved dancing Tahitian for 7 years growing up. Why I began my career in design.

My super power is

I’ve been often told I can kind of have a conversation with anyone. I like to think I balance the conversation well between listening and adding my own. In reality, it’s really just me being interested in other people and giving them the space to be themselves. Also, I feel like I made the best Zuppa Toscana soup ever at a soup kitchen in 2014 and it possibly changed a dangerous amount of lives that day.

I'm looking for

Guidance and a better understanding of how I can get into Environmental Design. I have experience with signage, informational, and interactive but I’d like to learn more. This can come in the form of events, learning from workshops, mentorship, reading articles, etc. I just would like to learn more!

What I love about experience design

What I love about front of house restaurant management is that you are making your guests feel loved. I am particularly fascinated by Will Guidara’s idea of “unreasonable hospitality.” It is the idea that even small actions of care can greatly signal to others that they are valued in this world and will hopefully send out that same love to others. For example, a server overheard a guest stating they did everything on their trip except have a New York styled hot dog. Although they were in a Michelin stared, expensive restaurant, a team collaborated to run a block out for a street dog to then arrange it beautifully and serve it to the guest. What took the restaurant $2 and some running, created an unforgettable memory for these guests. This scene is recreated in the show The Bear where you can even see that same character reading Will Guidara’s book. I appreciate the idea of taking pride in your work so much because you see the warm embrace you can give your guests. With unreasonable hospitality, it is not work but rather welcoming unique people into your home and I’d like to think healing some part of them.

Best piece of advice I've ever heard

To celebrate your wins, big or small. Romanticize your life to find joy in any moment. We only have one life so I’m okay spending it being foolishly enamored with the small miracles around us.

Where I find Inspiration

Nature and how it will always bounce back to continue to grow.

Practice Area

Branded Environments, Digital Experiences, Exhibition, Placemaking, Public Installation, Strategy/Research/Planning, Wayfinding

Focus Area

Brand, Exhibition, Graphic, Interactive, Signage, Sustainability


Cultural, Education, Healthcare