Dubbed the ‘Willy Wonka of Design and Science’, award-winning Director and Designer of Experiences Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun is a critical explorer and a fearless and passionate provocateur. In 2014 WIRED magazine awarded her with a WIRED Innovation Fellowship for her work to date and its ‘significant impact on the world’ whilst in 2013, Icon Magazine touted Dr. Ben Hayoun as one of the 50 international designers ‘shaping the future’. Additionally, in 2015, she was nominated for a Women of the Year Achievement Award which rewards, since 1955, women ‘who have made a significant achievement’ and ‘are being recognised for their strides in making the world a better place’. Nelly is Designer of Experiences at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, Chief of Experiences at WeTransfer, a member of the Space Outreach and Education Committee at the International Astronautical Federation, a United Nations Advisor to the UN VR (Virtual Reality) labs, an advisory board member at AIGA (American Institute for Graphic Arts) in Los Angeles, and a visiting professor at the Royal College of Arts and the Architectural Association. In 2016, she was awarded with Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London Teaching award.
Nelly assembled and directs the International Space Orchestra (ISO) – the world first orchestra of space scientists and astronauts from NASA and through this has collaborated with Grammy award-winning musicians such as Beck, Damon Albarn, Bobby Womack, The Prodigy, Penguin Café, Ed Banger Records, Savages and most recently Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós.
She is a keynote speaker and has spoken worldwide about the value of experiential design practices in the context of outreach, community and education. Her work has been exhibited at the National Museum of China, MOMA, V&A and other leading design institutions.
Dr. Ben Hayoun is the author and director of two feature length movies. She was awarded one of the UK largest artistic awards, The Arts Council England Exceptional Award for her feature-length movie Disaster Playground. Disaster Playground is following the chain of command in place in the event of hazardous asteroid impacting the earth. It was nominated for a Vision Award at SXSW 2015 and is distributed worldwide on Netflix North America and other digital platforms.
Nelly and her studio have also worked and consulted for the likes of world-class clients including NASA, BBC, Lego, Airbnb HQ, XL Recordings, AIGA (American Institute for Graphic Arts) and Mattel amongst many others. Her latest project; The Life the Sea and the Space Viking, bringing together space scientists and Vikings in a boat to collect form of life for outer space colonisation was selected as one of the Best of The Year series 2016 by the Metropolitan Museum in NYC.
In 2017, Dr. Ben Hayoun has launched with academic partner the Sandberg Instituut and long term collaborator WeTransfer, the University of the Underground, a free postgraduate university based in the underground of the urban spaces in London and Amsterdam, composed of dreamers of the day and supporting unconventional research practices.
Nelly received her MA with distinction from the Royal College of Arts in Design Interactions, she holds a PhD in Geography (Human geography and political philosophy) from Royal Holloway, University of London.