September 2011

See Nelly Ben Hayoun's feature withThe Other Volcano in Wired Magazine October 2011, released in September 2011.
Photo by Wilson Hennessy. Pyrotechnic by Austin Houldsworth

It won't be grounding any aircraft soon, but Nelly Ben Hayoun's volcanoes still cause a commotion. Her project, The Other Volcano, features 60cm-tall smoke- and flame-spewing mountains installed in living rooms.

The "volcano" erupts when a chamber of gunpowder, potassium nitrate and sugar is ignited. "I'm very interested in the way we can use design to confront reality, and how it can explore areas of fantasy and science fiction," says Ben Hayoun (above), a French designer based in London.

"In order to give you the experience of being there when a volcano is erupting, I need to ground it in reality," she says. "So I work a lot with sciences." For example, she explains, volcanologist Carina Fearnly and pyrotechnic artist Austin Houldsworth assisted on the piece.

In September, The Other Volcano will erupt at the First Design Triennial in Beijing, alongside some of the artist's other pieces, such as The Soyuz Chair (see gallery below), which simulates a rocket launch, and Super K Sonic BOOOum, a replicated boat trip inside Japan's neutrino observatory (also in the gallery below).

Her next project is an opera based on a trip to Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Geiger counters at the ready, then.