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pavani yalla

Empathy is a skill that can be honed,

but designing to elicit empathy is no easy feat. Master this,

and passive audiences become active


Whether it’s creating an omni-channel retail experience, designing an interpretive exhibit, or temporarily activating a neighborhood block, I am a fierce believer in the critical role that emotion plays in experience. Over the past 15 years I have designed and directed interactive stories, tools, and services that span both digital and physical realms. Currently, as Experience Design Director for Second Story, I lead the experience design practice across studios in Portland, New York, and Atlanta, where I am based. As a member of the company's executive leadership team, I am responsible for recruiting and growing top talent, winning new business, and leading award-winning projects for some of the world's biggest brands and institutions. As a founding member of the Atlanta studio, I helped build and train the experience and content teams, and later went on to become the Studio Creative Director for several years, overseeing all creative tracks of work from concept through launch (experience design, content strategy, visual/motion design, environmental design). Over the years I have channeled this experience into the creation of new processes and tools for the emerging field of UX within physical environments.
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Architecting Emotion

Designing for emotion is foundational to all of my work. At Second Story, I was able to define a framework—Emotional Architecture—that would allow the team to more intentionally design for specific emotions that lead to desired actions. 

A Participatory Process

While I enjoy all phases of a project, I especially thrive in the early stages of discovery and dreaming. Having guided countless clients through this rather fluid and ambiguous part of the design process, I've developed tried and true co-creation methods that build great momentum in the early stages of a project. 


Thought Leadership

I enjoy sharing my perspective on experience design with peers and students alike. I've been a speaker at a number of public venues including both industry and academic events.


The Drum Social Purpose Awards

Digiday Worklife Award
Mosaic Award
How Design

Society for Experiential Graphic Design

Interaction Design Association
The American Alliance of Museums

FAB Awards

Communicator Awards

Design for Experience Awards

Digital Out of Home Awards


Appy Awards


Harvard Business School 

Emory University

Georgia Institute of Technology


Red Hat

Verizon Wireless



The Home Depot






Vail Resorts

Sea World

Enterprise Holdings 

Textile Museum

Colonial Williamsburg 

U.S. Census Bureau 

Washington Post 


Whole Foods Market 

Panera Bread 

Krispy Kreme




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