Nelly Ben Hayoun
Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian PhD is an award-winning designer of experiences with over a decade of working to advocate for plurality and to manufacture impossible productions and complex events and projects. who creates multidimensional experiential projects at the intersection of film, science, tech, theatre, politics,music and design. Wired awarded her their inaugural Innovation Fellowship, and Icon magazine recognized Dr Ben Hayoun as one of the top 50 designers “shaping the future”. Nelly was distinguished as the first on the list of the top 50 women on the speaker circuit by The Drum Magazine; while Creative Review named her one of the Creative Leaders 50, selecting 50 creatives they felt were “driving change, not just within their organisation but in the world at large”, Dezeen selected her as one of the ’50 inspirational women in architecture and design’ and most recently she won a Karman fellowship for her unique global cultural achievements to astronautics and space exploration. Nelly is the founder of both NASA’s International Space Orchestra , the tuition-free charity University of the Underground and design agency Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios. Her large scale projects have included collaborations with political activists like Noam Chomsky, Pussy Riot, or Arjun Appadurai and artists like Massive Attack and Kid Cudi, The Avalanches to name a few. She is known for challenging institutions from within through events, and she has done so at the United Nations, NASA or the International Astronautical Federation where she is Vice Chair of the Technical Committee on the Cultural Utilization of Space (ITACCUS), a member of the IAF Space Education and Outreach Committee (SEOC), and a member of the IAA (International Academy of Astronautics) Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) permanent committee.Nelly is the author and director of three feature-length documentaries (ie: The International Space Orchestra, 2013; Disaster Playground, 2015 and I am (not) a monster, 2019). In 2020, Nelly became a grantee of Sundance Institute with her new documentary- currently in production- called RED MOON. Through role-play, magic, and doppelgängers, the film RED MOON offers an experimental vision and template for future diasporas beyond Earth. Set in Algeria, Armenia and France, the film asks How will human inhabitants of the moon understand origin, borders and nations? For this film, Nelly investigates her family origins in Algeria and Armenia- which led to the start of her radio show on underground radio -on Worldwide FM- the Nelly Boum Show. In 2016, she was awarded with Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London Teaching award. When she is not making films, Nelly is a keynote speaker and has spoken worldwide about the value of experiential design practices in the context of nightlife, outreach, community and education. Her design work has been exhibited at the National Museum of China, MOMA, V&A, the MET and other leading design institutions. Nelly is also an amateur boxer who trains at the legendary Gleason’s Gym in NYC in the fighting crew of trainer Hector Roca. She has two doppelgangers who work with her to appear at multiple places at the same time, a Barbie doll and a Lego made of herself. Nelly received a BA in Textile Design at ENSAAMA Olivier De Serres (college of applied arts) in Paris, a 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. Most recently, she led a free nationwide festival across the United Kingdom called ‘Tour de Moon’ in collaboration with more than a thousand youths and nighttime workers. Tour de Moon is composed of immersive experiences and live events developed in collaboration with our “universal satellite”: the Moon, seen as a character, a landscape and a prompt for radical imagination. Nelly is passionately committed to supporting the creation of organized communities in building new beginnings. To this end, she actively works to build platforms for others to experience plurality, decolonial practices, social and racial justice, solidarity and equity, so that History does not repeat itself on earth and beyond, to this end she is a senior fellow of the Hannah Arendt Center, which supports humanities and human rights across the globe.