Bryan Markovitz

Design and Business

I am a researcher and strategist working in the field of experience design for business and culture. My background in art, anthropology, and marketing makes me an intuitive observer, creative thinker, detail-oriented manager, and enthusiastic problem-solver for clients and their audiences.

I am a generalist in many areas, but I do one thing really well: I can turn space into an emotional event. I intuitively know how to link space with strategy, stage environments and exhibits, connect digital and physical activities, and transform ideas into real-world experiences. More crucially, I know how to earn the trust of artists, designers, and engineers, while unifying them around a shared vision.

Below are three case studies from my design work, as well as samples of materials and approaches that I have created for different roles and clients.



  • Writing

  • Strategy & Planning

  • Content Development

  • Project Management

  • Prototyping & Workshops

  • Surveys & Questionnaires

  • Focus Groups & Interviews

  • Mixed Methods Research

  • Business Development

  • Graphic Design

  • Media Relations

  • Presentations


  • Adobe Creative Suite

  • Microsoft Office

  • Salesforce, Raiser’s Edge

  • Sketch, InVision, Adobe XD

  • MAXQDA, NVivo

  • ArcGIS, QGIS

  • PhotoScan

  • Leica Cyclone

  • Premiere Pro

  • Descript

  • SketchUp

  • Total station and RTK GNSS

  • 3D laser scanning

  • Photogrammetry

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 products and experiences in new markets.

We worked with limited resources to generate inexpensive concepts and prototypes that leveraged qualitative research, strategic design, and knowledge about our clients’ brands—while grounding ourselves in the company’s core revenue-producing capabilities in exhibit and experience design.


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 physical and creative play time in a child’s day. Even teens and college students stand to benefit from active play, especially in problem-solving disciplines like engineering.

Many of our clients—from toy companies to children’s museums—have asked how to leverage technology to create new kinds of active play experiences that keep their customers engaged.


The Brief

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

  • Prototype low-cost active-play game concepts and technologies for both prospective and existing clients.

  • Provide data about how people engage in active play through their different abilities and a broad range of social contexts.

  • Identify tech-enabled enhancements that fuel surprise, strategy, and excitement to make players want more.

  • Conduct real-world play tests of best prototypes with core audiences at schools and community spaces.


The Results

  • We conducted community-engaged research for products and programs in both public and private sectors.

  • We prototyped mixed-reality play experiences with our clients’ core audiences in multiple spaces and contexts.

  • We leveraged prototypes for marketing, including social media, press story pitches, awards submissions, and concept designs for client proposals.

  • 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 Create New Value for Casual Dining

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 and design concepts for new casual dining clients.

  • Observe and define behavioral mindsets for casual dining customers and tie those behaviors to customer aspirations.

  • Identify moments for enhancement in the casual dining experience—especially to facilitate more meaningful social interactions.

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


The Results

  • I coordinated and executed a contextual research process to study casual restaurant brands and their customers during two three-week periods of interviews and observation at different location types, times of day, and social occasions (birthdays, happy hour, holidays).

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

  • Our research yielded four categories of customer mindsets for casual dining—“celebration-making,” “value-seeking,” “daily gathering,” and “family focusing.”

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

  • We built research-driven relationships with category leaders in casual dining that generated design briefs 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

When ESI Design was selected to produce a 40,000 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.


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

The Brief

  • Engage the people of Shanghai in a fun social experience that also created user-generated 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, China Daily,, Architectural Digest, Bloomberg, and others.

  • The Dream Cube won several juried design awards from SEGD, Spark Pro, Event Design, and others.


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


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



  • 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.


Content Development

Like “design thinking,” storytelling has become a meme in the world of business. But what can different kinds of stories do? How do they work? How do story formats affect audiences? Far fewer people think about the nuances of these questions.

While many good stories are emotional and easy to understand, the best seem to go a bit deeper. They raise as many questions as they answer. They involve surprising turns and astonishing juxtapositions. They may even make you aware of the power of the story itself, and the possibility for alternative endings.

As an artist, writer, and researcher, I have spent many years experimenting with how stories are expressed in words, media, and sensory experience. I think carefully about how stories grab people’s attention, how they lead audiences toward more engaging blends of ideas in time and space, and how they speak to the diversity of audiences by giving them the power to change the narrative.


Below are samples of creative content that I have produced for various experience design concepts, exhibits, and performance events:

Sample museum proposal with activity scenarios: Science Museum of Virginia

Sample retail brand journey map: Discovery Channel

Sample catalog for performance exhibition: The Resurrectory

Sample media story pitch book for theatre: The Seven Deadly Sins

Beyond business and design, I have a broad background in research and content development as an academic and theatre dramaturg/director.

Above: A case study video featuring content that I helped ESI create during the initial phases of proposal development and concept design for PNC Bank’s successful community learning center.


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 capabilities include:

  • 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.


Cultivating new clients involves leading teams through progressive stages of strategy, production, and engagement. To help others visualize this process, I created this 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:


Following are 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.