Nelly Ben Hayoun, Designer of Experiences

nelly at super k[Nelly Ben Hayoun and super k sonic booooum Gold 2 photo by Chris Foster]

“It is a real great honour to be appointed Designer of Experiences at the SETI Institute under the supervision of Jill TarterFranck Marchis, Adrian Brown and Janice Bishop. As part of my new position at SETI I will work on extending outreach activities and design in terms of scope, scale, and methods of engagement towards architecture, installations, environments, social system, performances, experiences and narratives, as events.

Building on my previous experience working with leading scientists and engineers to devise subversive events and performances (previously in Cern, Super K, Chernobyl, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Imperial College London, SLAC etc…), or for example with the International Space Orchestra, a project I created and direct since 2012 at NASA Ames Research Center, the SETI Institute, the International Space University and Singularity University, I will develop interdisciplinary research environment, platforms in which SETI Institute’s scientists will be solicited to implement, deconstruct, perform, enact, reenact, sing, mix, modify, and design musical or filmographic acts on their scientific research. Together we will design experiences to engage the public with the greatest SETI Institute debate: to know our beginnings and our place among the stars”

Nelly Ben Hayoun-May 2013


nelly's portraitNelly 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. She exhibited, spoke and performed worldwide in prestigious venues such as The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Design Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa or the first Beijing International Design Triennial, National Museum of China. An award-winning director, performer, and experience designer from France, she works with leading scientists and engineers to devise subversive events and performances. Her projects include collaborating with cosmonaut Jean Pierre Haignere on the Soyuz Chair, a modified armchair that enables those brave enough to try it to experience the three-stage launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket. She also worked with scientists at NASA, particle physicists at CERN (where she was granted complete access, including to the CMS detector chamber 100m below ground) to develop Dark Energy in her kitchen sink, as well as working with volcanologists (to develop a living room volcano), paleontologists, sociologists, biologists …For the International Space Orchestra, she assembled and directed the world first orchestra of space scientists from NASA Ames Research Center, Singularity University, International Space University and the SETI Institute. Most recently, in Moondust Remix, she has invited scientists to respond to the challenge of imagining and fabricating the sound of Neil Armstrong's boots on the moon. Ben Hayoun is the director of the International Space Orchestra in NASA Ames Research Center and SETI Institute, Visiting Professor at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. She also lectures about the value of fieldwork, experience design and multi disciplinary teams that she considers an essential part of the ‘designer training’ at the world renowned Central Saint Martins, College of Arts and Design and the Royal College of Art in London. She is a researcher in Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, writing on social power structure in scientifically built environment (Mission Control).

Nelly Ben Hayoun’s website:

Website for the International Space Orchestra: