We create for curious minds


About Us

Esem Projects is a multi-disciplinary art & design studio led by Dr. Sarah Barns and Michael Killalea, founded in 2012.

We love exploring the many ways in which immersive, digital storytelling can connect and inspire curious minds in shared spaces.

Driven by research, creativity, experimentation and collaboration, we lead curatorial and community-focused programs that elevate shared stories in outdoor spaces.

We're known for our unique approach to interweaving the digital and the physical, in ways that speak to the particular history and story of a place and its community, linking historical collections, digital storytelling and urban media design in site-specific ways.

As a multi-disciplinary practice our work contributes to a variety of different fields and conversations across the built environment sector, museums & galleries, education and sustainable futures. The common thread remains our love of creative collaborations that build connections in shared spaces.

Drop us a line to say hi. We’re always happy to talk.

Esem Projects acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work, and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present and emerging.

Our Team

Our Collaborators

Creative Strategy & Design: Jacqui Triggs

Technical Direction and Installation Services: Pete Hird

Motion Design: Julian Burgess, Anna Fraser; Andy Noonan

Producers: Omee Deling, Claire Edwards, Sarie Edwards

Photographers and Videographers: We work with a number of photographers appropriate to specific jobs and budgets. Past collaborators include Tobias Rowles (Sam I Am Management), Roy Weiland, David Arnold, Alan Richardson.

Illustrators: Richard Briggs; Elin Matilda Anderssen

Our Services

Strategic & Curatorial Design

Our strategic design projects are informed by research expertise in urban futures, storytelling, cultural strategy and design.

We work with clients to explore unique digital programming typologies and engagement strategies for built environments, museums, galleries and precincts. Clients include GML Heritage, HASSELL, Arcadia, Arup, Landcom and more.

Explore examples of our Strategic Design Projects.

Public Art Programming

Our public art practice supports the creation of experiential, programmable environments for shared storytelling.

Through unique collaborations we co-design experiential and immersive storytelling environments using shared spaces as our canvas. While much of our work engages the tools of projection and lighting design, we also work across print, installation and sound-based storytelling formats.

Many of our curatorial projects reflect our interests in creating multi-sensory immersive spaces and experiences that connect diverse disciplines, technologies, creative practices and communities.

For recent projects see our public artwork Superorganism (2021) and our public space media platform STORYBOX Places (2020-21).

Digital Storytelling and Interpretation

We're a research-led practice, drawing on many years' experience working across content creation and strategy, public history, interpretation design, public engagement and storytelling. We take on ambitious research briefs, and design interpretation and engagement programs that allow complex ideas to connect with audiences in new ways.

We also collaborate widely to share stories about people and place, working with indigenous storytellers, schools, community groups, local arts and heritage groups and local councils.

Explore our Digital Projection, Interpretation and Curatorial Projects.

Visual Design

Design projects are led by Creative Director Michael Killalea, and encompass visual communication design, brand development, digital, editorial, and experiential media design.

View a sample of our Design Services and Digital Services.

Technical Design and Installation

We work with an experienced team of audio-visual designers and technicians to deliver immersive and experiential installations and interfaces in outdoor environments. Our technical solutions are designed to be robust and resilient to withstand harsh Australian environments, from heat to storms and everything in between.

We also offer technical design services to clients seeking advice on audio-visual requirements for outdoor programming.


We work across a number of different sectors: Built environment, Local government, Arts, Retail, Hospitality, and Community/NFP.

Built environment: HASSELL / Arup / GPT Group / Lend Lease / TKD Architects / Barangaroo Delivery Authority

Local Government: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council / Bathurst Regional Council / Inner West Council / Liverpool City Council / Newcastle City Council

Higher Education: Australian National University / University of NSW / Western Sydney University

Retail & Hospitality: PKD Design / Betty's Burgers / Sokyo / Cocos Republic / Will & Toby's

Federal & State Government: Arts SA, CSIRO, Enterprise Connect, Data 61

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