Nelly Ben Hayoun

Director and Experience Designer

nelly and soyuz rocket
Nelly Ben Hayoun in front of Soyuz Rocket_Baikonur Cosmodrome_Kazakhstan

Nelly Ben Hayoun has been called the “Willy Wonka of design and science” and she is on a mission to bring chaos, subversion and disorder into the design and the scientific world. An award-winning director and experience designer she works with leading scientists and engineers, to devise subversive events and experiences.

In 2013,Icon Magazine, nominated Ben Hayoun as one of the 50 international designers “shaping the future”.

In 2014, Wired Magazine awards Nelly Ben Hayoun with a WIRED Innovation fellowship for her work to date and for its potential to make a “significant impact on the world” .

Her interminable energy and powers of persuasion has brought together space scientists and leading musicians and authors like Beck, Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn, Maywa Denki, Bruce Sterling and Penguin Café in a musical collaboration that is taking music into space. Blasted from a Japanese launch pad in August 2013 and her most ambitious project to date; she conceived, assembled and directed 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 brought her to investigate the empty lands of Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, or 100m below ground at the Large Hadron Collider. She also collided atoms at SLAC, got stuck in a Soyuz rocket capsule in Baikonur Cosmodrome, and experienced a sonic Booum in the neutrino Observatory Super K in Japan.

Exhibitor, and keynote speaker; she has worked with leading museums and design centres across the world. Ben Hayoun’s feature documentary: The International Space Orchestra, premiered at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam where it was acclaimed by the critique as a “masterpiece” (ICO), a ‘real achievement’ (DOMUS), “as thrilling as watching a rocket launch” and “Spine Tingling” (Guardian). It is starring real-life astronauts. The music was recorded in George Lucas’ studios, at Skywalker Sound.

In addition to Ben Hayoun’s role as the director of the ISO at NASA Ames Research Center, she is the Designer of Experiences at the SETI Institute, California, Head of Experiences at We Transfer, an academic at world leading institutions including the Architectural Association School of Architecture where she is a Visiting Professor (as 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, and in her spare time is training to be an astronaut.

Ben Hayoun is a member of the International Astronautical Federation, Space Outreach and Education committee. Her latest project Disaster Playground (2014) was awarded the Arts Council England Exceptional Award.

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

Her work featured in press worldwide, see a selection here

Ben Hayoun is french, based in London, UK and at SETI Institute , CA, USA.

- For Public speaking, conferences, talk inquiries please contact Nelly Ben Hayoun’s agent: Deborah Rey-Burns,  at deborah[@]

- For Marketing & PR inquiries, please contact Marketing & PR Manager at Nelly Ben Hayoun studio at  hello [@ ]

- For new project inquiries, or new production, Please contact Lisa James, Producer at Nelly Ben Hayoun Studio and Disaster Playground: gammagrrl[@ ]

- For Nelly Ben Hayoun’s activity at SETI Institute please contact nbenhayoun[@] or Franck Marchis at SETI Institute: fmarchis [@]

- For general inquiries please contact : hello [@ ]

Nelly Ben Hayoun’s inimitable Jumpsuits are designed and sponsored by Ruby Rocks Ltd , Contact Jenny modoagency [@ ]


NEW PROJECT: Disaster Playground

The International Space Orchestra


Micronations Revolution

Glitch Fiction

Disruptive Thinking

See a selected list of Nelly Ben Hayoun studio ‘s Clients/Collaborators and Partners here

“A Social Sculptor”

Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery

“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 will make a great astronaut”

Dr. Jacob Cohen, Chief Scientist,  NASA Ames Research Center


Wired Magazine

“Rather than following the path of most designers by trying to build a better, more productive and efficient world, what is interesting about Nelly’s work is that it introduces disorder and chaos.”

Anna Bates — editor at Icon Magazine

“Thrilling, creative, passionate, these are just some of the terms that could be used to describe the work of Nelly Ben Hayoun”

Design Indaba

“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