Why we do what we do

Learn more about what drives Esem Projects

by Dr. Sarah Barns

01 December 2018

Esem Projects was born as a creative collaboration between urban strategist and interpretation artist Dr. Sarah Barns and visual designer Michael Killalea.

We began to collaborate in 2011 when we realised we could take a bit of Sarah's work, engaged with storytelling and research around how digital platforms and experiences were changing the way we interacted with places, and connect it with Michael's visual design and production skills.

We called ourselves 'Esem' as a fusion of Sarah and Michael.

'Esem Projects' reflects the broad range of practice areas that our collective expertise and interests encompass, spanning interpretation and design, participatory storytelling, immersive and experiential design, and sustainable futures.

When we began our first projects, we saw ourselves as experimental mavericks, prototyping and testing the potentials of different experiential mediums to share stories in public spaces. We quickly developed a love for working in public spaces. We loved the unpredictability of the encounters we had with so many different people and places.

Fast forward...

Since our first projects in 2011, we've taken on many projects both big and small, temporary and permanent.

What underpins all our work is a desire to experiment playfully and respectfully with the digital storytelling potentials of shared spaces.

Along the way, we've acquired a lot of technical and programming skills, and experience in participatory design and engagement. We also manage a fair amount of our own hardware and digital platforms, which means we can now program a range of events and activations for indoor and outdoor spaces.

We love challenge of sharing a story or idea in ways that can be experiential and immersive. But that doesn't mean everything we do has to be cutting edge from a technology perspective.

Connection to people and places, while expanding knowledge and empathy with diverse people, remain core to the work that we do.

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