Jonathan Katz

  • What I do, where I work

  • I am the founder/CEO of a design/build firm called Cinnabar in Los Angeles. We started in the film industry building scenery and special effects, and have evolved over 25 years to a multi-faceted group producing built environments that convey meaning: theme park attractions, traveling shows, TV sets, custom props of all sorts, retail and food service venues, corporate theater, and for the numbers of years, a growing involvement with museums. Museums, as a result of their self referential origins, are somewhat distant from the direct current of our society. Thus, we have found that a fresh perspective derived from progressive management techniques, the imperatives of the market(faster, better, performance based metrics), and a practice that compels innovation can make contributions to the museum context of environments and story telling.
    Additionally, we have a good deal of experience in the wrangling of creatives-art directors, architects, film makers, retailers, etc.
    Our practice of collaboration has evolved by real experience over thousands of projects. Its businesslike, yet recognizes that in the end, it the audience that decides.


  • Porsche/Mercedes mechanic at Denman Automotive

  • Welder/fabricator at Festival Artists

  • Importer-textiles & artist materials at Rupert, Gibbon & Spider

  • Organic Fruit harvester & marketer at self

  • Chief, Appropriate Technology at California Conservation Corps

  • Executive Producer at Katzfilm

  • Asst director, Art Director at Cucoloris Films

  • Program Developer at Office of Appropriate Technology. Office of the Governor,CA


  • More about me

  • Current work: I am currently the Executive Producer for exhibits for the Kimball Natural History Museum of the new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The Academy chose an alternative strategy for these exhibits, which cover a very wide range of venue. My company is responsible for brand focus, concept, exhibit development, design, production and installation for these public spaces. Thus, we are producers-assembling a diverse group of individuals, companies and organizations to collaborate on this project. A critical characteristic of the project is that by museum standards, it a very fast-track. A big advantage of the integrated approach is that we are solving for multiple program criteria simultaneously in addition to the “content” : sustainable design in use of materials & life-cycle, modular exhibit systems that can evolve and change constantly, integration with the architecture(no black boxes here!), integration of exhibitory with public programs, and development of techniques to exhibit specimens in a naturally ventilated space

  • Specimens in a Sustainable Environment

    Specimens in a Sustainable Environment

    Case Study

    by Jonathan Katz Published February 06 2009

    Sustainability & Specimen Display: a Conflict of Program? Key to the design program of the new California Academy of Sciences was incorporating the Academy ethos and commitment to sustainability into the design of the building. (Photo #1)The result...