Bryan Markovitz

Design & Business

I have more than ten years of experience in research, design, strategic communication, marketing, and business development. Below is a sample of my work, including three case studies that highlight my collaborations with interdisciplinary design teams.

Former clients include Starbucks, Best Buy, PNC Bank, GE, Time Warner, Mercy Corps, World Monuments Fund, Boston Museum of Science, Oregon Library Association, the City Club of Portland, and many others.



  • Writing

  • Strategy & Planning

  • Content Development

  • Graphic Design

  • Business Development

  • Organizational Design

  • Media Relations

  • Presentations & Public Speaking

  • Prototyping & Workshops

  • Surveys & Questionnaires

  • Focus Groups & Interviews

  • Mixed Methods & Ethnography


Case Studies

While at ESI Design, I led several initiatives to cultivate clients and audiences in sectors that were new to the company. Our work maintained the company’s existing network of clients, but we also experimented with designing targeted insights for category-defining experiences in new markets.

We worked with limited resources to generate inexpensive concepts and prototypes that leveraged qualitative research, strategic design, and brand marketing—while grounding ourselves in the company’s core revenue-producing capabilities.


Case One: How to Mix Active Play with Digital Life

Most of my neighbors have young children, which makes our street in Evanston a kid-friendly play zone in warmer months. But for many, finding opportunities to play with others is difficult. Digital devices and test-driven school curricula can easily reduce active play time in a child’s day. Even young adults stand to benefit from the social interactions that active social play experiences foster.

Many of my clients—from toy companies to children’s museums—have asked how they could leverage technology to create new kinds of play experiences that keep children physically active and mentally engaged in social activities.

The Brief

  • Demonstrate our company’s core capabilities in game design to cultivate new clients and projects across industries.

  • Create an active-play initiative to prototype low-cost game concepts and technologies for both prospective and existing clients.

  • Conduct research to understand how people might engage in active play through their different abilities and a broad range of social contexts.

  • Collaborate with our clients’ core audiences and stakeholders by conducting play-test workshops at schools and community spaces.

The Results

  • We conducted community-based qualitative research, and prototyped mixed-reality play experiences for consumer product designs and community programs for cultural institutions.

  • We leveraged our play-test workshops for multiple storytelling purposes, including marketing and social media, new business development, and concept designs for clients.

  • Our work led to a spinoff startup that creates new products and revenue in the active play space, including a multi-player video game theatre for theme parks, sports arenas, and retail centers.


  • Coordinating and maintaining strategic partnerships with corporations, community groups, and universities.

  • Identifying and meeting with potential sponsors and donors.

  • Planning and leading client and stakeholder meetings, interviews, and planning sessions.

  • Performing contextual inquires in stakeholder schools and neighborhood centers.

  • Designing and producing a survey of 400+ community residents and potential partners.

  • Conducting user field tests and prototyping workshops.

  • Designing and leading focus groups.

  • Managing team processes and resource planning.

  • Writing design documents, scripts, and presentations.

  • Art direction and storyboarding.

Above: A play-test video that we created for a children’s museum design in a planned mixed-use development in the Fort Totten neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Above: A series of concept diagrams that we created for major toy manufacturers to pitch ideas for technology-augmented play toys and experiences.

Above: A video that I created with ESI designers and undergraduate students at Bucknell University to prototype spaces and media for active gaming experiences.

Case Two: How to Design a Better Casual Dining Experience

As a kid growing up in Houston, Texas, I was no stranger to the family-friendly casual dining chain restaurant. “Foodie” wasn't even a concept in the early 1990s, so when my parents took us out for a special occasion, or I took my date out before the junior high dance, we found ourselves at TGI Friday's in Willowbrook Mall.

Looking back, we never went to these restaurants specifically for the cuisine (though I did love Friday’s potato skins). The food was fine, but it was really about the time spent with family and friends.

I still enjoy dining out, but like many others, I have higher expectations when it comes to food and a restaurant experience. While dining out is on the rise, casual chain dining is on the decline. The problem seems to be how to make the "chain" feel a little less corporate and a lot more personal, social, and local—without sacrificing convenience and affordability.

The Brief

  • Produce attention-getting research insights and preliminary design concepts for new casual dining clients.

  • Identify moments in a typical casual dining experience where the customer experience could be enhanced with technology to facilitate more meaningful social interactions.

  • Address the challenges of how to effectively align the fine-tuned restaurant operation (front and back of house) with new customer-focused media experiences.

The Results

  • I coordinated and executed a contextual research process to study prospect client restaurants and their customers over twelve weeks of interviews and observation at multiple sites, times of day, and social occasions (birthdays, happy hour, holidays).

  • I created a database of field notes, interviews, and site recordings and synthesized the data into specific insights for the experience designers and architects.

  • We produced several low-cost rapid prototypes, which we documented in media and renderings for client design documents and proposals.

  • We built a relationship with a leading casual dining corporation that generated design briefs tailored to concepts we proposed for in-store media architecture and digital brand platforms.


  • Identifying and qualifying client leads in the casual dining industry.

  • Coordinating meetings with c-suite connections and delivering pitches and presentations.

  • Planning and conducting contextual field research and interviews for three major casual dining brands.

  • Planning and producing prototyping workshops.

  • Project management and resource planning.

  • Writing design briefs, research documents, proposals, scripts, and presentation decks.

  • Art direction, storyboarding, and diagram design.

Above: A rapid prototype video that we created during the business development process to help new clients imagine possibilities for in-store experiences with architectural media and mobile applications.

Above: A diagram that I designed to communicate insights generated from our field research and interviews with casual dining customers.

Case Three: How to Design with a City

Above: The Dream Cube’s “sizzle” video created with our production partners at Spinifex Group.

When ESI Design was selected to produce a 43,000 square-foot pavilion to represent the City of Shanghai at the 2010 World Expo, we knew that we wanted to respond to the Expo’s theme of “better city, better life” in a direct and participatory way.

In addition to designing the Dream Cube—an LED-clad building and exhibit space that sensed and responded to the visitors through technology—ESI composed a story about how the future of Shanghai could be a collective social experiment between people and their environment.

As a communications lead on ESI’s marketing team I was asked to help translate the pavilion’s story and theme into an outreach project that would invite Shanghai’s 24 million residents to become “co-designers” of the story.

Visit the Dream Cube media page to learn more. To see SEGDs juried award article, download the PDF. More images of the Dream Cube are here.

Above: The promotional video we created to describe ESI’s core idea to design the Dream Cube with the city of Shanghai.

The Brief

  • Engage the people of Shanghai in the creation of content for the exhibition.

  • Use the community outreach to heighten awareness of the project in a competitive media landscape.

  • Drive traffic to the Dream Cube’s website to connect audiences with the pavilion’s pre-attendance content and visitor information.

The Results

  • ESI created and managed a web-based community photo contest for residents of the city with 12 weekly assignments that inspired people to go out into the city and respond through images. Winning photos were selected and incorporated into the media design of the exhibition.

  • More than 80,000 photos were submitted by Shanghai residents, and five million people visited the Pavilion over six months.

  • The Dream Cube pavilion was covered in digital media surfaces fed by a stream of thousands of selected images from local photographers.

  • Our media outreach efforts garnered worldwide media attention, including coverage from The New York Times, Fast Company,, Architectural Digest, Bloomberg, and others.


  • Planning and execution of outreach, communications, and media relations strategy.

  • Conducting research and writing copy for all press materials, media kits, and presentations.

  • Coordinating design content for the website and social media channels.

  • Conducting media pitches, maintaining media relations, and directing the award submissions process.


Business Development

My approach to business development incorporates aspects of qualitative research, prototyping and extensive client interaction to identify their needs and respond with focused insights. While at ESI Design, I helped move our pipeline and overall strategy toward client-focused solutions that were proactive and specific.

Generic statements and boilerplate were set aside in favor of clear and meaningful stories about our clients’ customers that helped them define new products, services, and user experiences. Concepts and prototypes were drawn from direct research. Short videos and social media posts gave us a public voice, and new ideas made potential clients take notice.


My business development responsibilities have included:

  • Meeting sales goals.

  • Producing prospect research and design briefs.

  • Conducting lead qualifications.

  • Cultivating relationships with managers and c-suite executives.

  • Leading proposals and design projects.

  • Leading pitch meetings and presentations.

  • Coordinating closing and contract negotiations.

  • Maintaining forecasts and pipelines.

  • Managing the company’s CRM and moves management system.

My work often involves leading teams through the strategic cultivation of new clients and business. To help others visualize this multi-stage process, I created a flow diagram that incorporates research, design, pitch production, and relationship-management procedures for new clients:


Strategic Communication and Fundraising

Whether for business or nonprofits, strategic thinking and resource development has always been integral to my professional work. My earliest experience began when I founded my own nonprofit.

For many years, I learned the ropes of strategy and fundraising as a consultant by day, and founder of an arts organization by night. I became a seasoned strategic planner, PR professional, and development specialist working with clients on everything from media pitches and feasibility studies, to focus groups and capital campaigns.


Below are samples of some of my past projects, including development plans, strategy and brand positioning documents, case statements, and sponsorship materials.

Sample case statement: CUE Art Foundation, New York, NY

Sample case statement: Multnomah County Library Foundation

Sample marketing and fundraising plan: City Club of Portland

Screenshots from various development projects (click any image to expand):


Writing and Graphic Design

One of my core skills is writing and designing proposals and presentation media. I have written creative and technical language for numerous projects. I am also fast and adept at design layouts and setting type in InDesign, processing images in Photoshop, creating diagrams in Illustrator, and occasionally producing motion graphics in AfterEffects.

I also work with large teams who have dedicated designers working on different components of a project. In such cases, I happily take on the role of a writer, collaborator, and art director. Following is a gallery of sample images from various proposals and presentations that I have produced.