Nelly Ben Hayoun


Dubbed the Willy Wonka of Design and Science, award-winning director and designer of experiences Nelly Ben Hayoun is a critical explorer, and a fearless and passionate provocateur.

In 2013, Icon Magazine nominated Ben Hayoun as one of the 50 international designers “shaping the future”; she is also the Designer of Experiences at the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), Head of Experiences at We Transfer, and a member of the Space Outreach and Education committee at the International Astronautical Federation. Wired magazine awarded Nelly Ben Hayoun with a WIRED Innovation fellowship for her work to date and its ‘significant impact on the world ‘. Ben Hayoun previously collaborated with Beck, Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn, Maywa Denki, Bruce Sterling and Penguin Café in a musical collaboration that blasted music into space from a Japanese launch pad in August 2013; the International Space Orchestra (ISO) – the world’s first orchestra of space scientists from NASA, was assembled and directed by Ben Hayoun and the critically acclaimed film (by the same name) was also released in 2013.

Her latest project Disaster Playground was awarded The Arts Council England Exceptional Award. Considered as ‘really remarkable and of global importance’ (Peter Knott, Director, Arts Council England), Disaster Playground is a large multi-platform project with a number of components including a feature film, an exhibition, an app and a book is in the pipeline. The project investigates future outer space catastrophes and the design of procedures to manage and assess the risks of a potential asteroid of significant size hitting the earth. In her new documentary, Ben Hayoun works with NASA scientists, SETI scientists, at the United Nations and even the Whitehouse to unravel the complex nature of a real-life catastrophe. Disaster Playground’s critically acclaimed feature film premiered at SXSW and was selected as one of the six highlights of SXSW while competing in the Feature Documentary, Vision Category which promotes ‘audacious filmmakers, risk-taking artists in the new cinema landscape who demonstrate raw innovation and creativity in documentary and narrative filmmaking’.

In her spare time, Ben Hayoun is completing a PhD in Human Geography and training to be an astronaut.