Nelly Ben Hayoun has been called the “Willy Wonka of design and science” – she is on a mission to bring chaos, subversion and disorder into the design and scientific world. An award-winning director and experience designer she works with leading scientists and engineers to devise subversive events and experiences. In her spare time she is training to be an astronaut.
Her interminable energy and powers of persuasion brought together space scientists, leading musicians and authors like Beck, Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn, Maywa Denki, Bruce Sterling and Penguin Café in a musical collaboration that is launching music into space from a Japanese launch pad in August 2013 The launch forms the next chapter of the International Space Orchestra (ISO) – the world first orchestra of space scientists from NASA Ames Research Center, Singularity University, International Space University and the SETI Institute.
Ben Hayoun’s bold design practice includes a collaboration with cosmonaut Jean Pierre Haignere on an armchair that simulates the 3-stage launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket. She has recreated Dark Energy in her kitchen sink with particle physicists at CERN, the Large Hadron Collider and the pyroclastic eruption of Mount St Helens on people’s couch. Her most recent endeavour is to re-imagine and fabricate the sound of Neil Armstrong’s boots on the moon.
Exhibitor, and keynote speaker; she has worked with leading museums and design centres across the world, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Design Indaba, Cape Town and the inaugural Beijing International Design Triennial. In 2013, Icon Magazine, nominated Ben Hayoun as one of the 50 international designers “shaping the future”.
In addition to Ben Hayoun’s role as Director of the ISO at NASA Ames Research Center, she is the Designer of Experiences at the SETI Institute, California. Her academic positions include Visiting Professor at the Architectural Association School of Architecture (part of the Unknown Fields Division), Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art. She is also a researcher in Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Ben Hayoun is a contributing writer at Domus and Design Indaba and guest writer at We Make Money Not Art, Blueprint and Bruce Sterling’s blog Beyond the Beyond on Wired.
“Well, folks… there are people who are pretty into design, and then there are designers who are like a force of nature.”
– Bruce Sterling, Science Fiction author
“She is out of this world in her thought processes and actions. She would be a valuable addition to the astronaut corp that would surely energize our exploration of the solar system”
– John W.Boyd, Senior Advisor to the Center Director of NASA Ames, Senior Advisor for History and the Center Ombuds, NASA Ames Research Center