Monthly Archives: October 2013


‘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, performer, and experience designer from France, she works with leading scientists and engineers to devise subversive events and performances. For the International Space Orchestra, she assembled and directed the worlds first orchestra of space scientists from NASA Ames Research Centre, Singularity University, International Space University and the SETI Institute.’

This short yet very insightful explanation of Nelly Ben Hayoun helps to slightly comprehend her madness but having the opportunity to see her discuss her most recent project was one I could hardly refuse. Here’s the epiiiic trailer for the documentary of the project.

So as well as getting to view the whole documentary, which when it comes out is most definitely worth a watch, Hayoun took part in a good old Q&A session. I think the overwhelming thing about Hayoun is her infectious enthusiasm, theres one particular section in the film when she is trying to persuade the head of NASA’s Ames Research facility to take part in the orchestra despite not being able to play an instrument, he clearly isn’t that keen yet she manages to pull it off after he remarks ‘you could be a con artist…there somebody who can convince anyone to do anything’ and its true she really could.


Presentation slide 1


I mean this slide above is pretty out there – RED BOLD CAPS UNDERLINED – she really is this enthusiastic. Literally the list shows it, she approached the project with the mentality ‘so what… MAKE IT HAPPEN‘. The Q&A proved really insightful into her practice, which combines science, nature and design which as it happens is the region where I see myself heading. So as well as really enjoying the project and seeing the outcome I found that design is what you make it and is in many ways who and what you are. I mean I’ve known this donkies but actually seeing someone like Hayoun its amazing what one designer can actually accomplish. Some more images from the film (taken from here).




….Did I forget to mention that the ISO is now transmitting its sweet, sweet melodies out into the vast Universe whilst orbiting above your very head using this amazing new nano satellite… Impressive.

(skip to 47.37s for t-minus 5 seconds).


Memory Palace cover

‘The story is set in a future London, hundreds of years after the world’s information infrastructure was wiped out by an immense magnetic storm.

This has taken me so long to finally get round to writing the exhibition has now finished, but hey here goes anyway. In all fairness I was actually visiting the V&A for a talk at the tail end of London Design week part of the Digital Design Weekend which is a new aspect of the festival they had launched for the first time this year. The event was a preview of the amazing NASA Space Orchestra from the uncontainably enthusiastic designer Nelly Benhayoun (this will be covered in the next post, so please check that out to) but onward with Memory Palace.

Book cover

pg. 1 & 2

Technology and knowledge have been lost, and a dark age prevails. Power has been seized by a group who enforce a line of extreme simplicity on all citizens. Recordings, writing, collecting and art are outlawed.’

Memory Palace’s main themes, the idea of a dystopian dictator lead society and removal or destruction of cultural artefacts all drew great parallels to George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and the ideas surrounding memory in Ray Bradury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’. Similarly to Orwell’s novel the exhibit was also set in a future London, in which a selection of todays various Graphic Designers, Illustrators and Typographers had used the concept outlined in Hari Kunzru’s book (which was the base for the whole exhibition) to explore the possibilities of a somewhat pessimistic outlook on humanities future.

Small type image main

Small type image1

Small type image2

Sam Winston 16g Zinc letterpress plates, ink & wood.

The approaches to typography were particularly interesting. Sam Winston’s work (above) ‘The text (from Kunzru’s book) I worked on focused on mankind’s worship of the periodic table – I specifically decided to look at combining the science of modern chemistry and the imagery of sacred eastern geometry.’In this case the use as type as image works really well, the letterforms lending themselves to create texture and contrast.

Mouth Type

This typographic piece by Oded Ezer was the highlight for me. The image above is from a series of eight short animations involving interaction and construction with letterforms. The example here saw Ezer pronouncing the letter, so in the case of the letter ‘G’ on the left you can make out the phonetic make up of the letter (‘gj-eee’) and as this developed he had synced a repeating pattern of his mouth at different stages of pronunciation to create a similar effect to an LED ticker sign. Seeing other experimental typographers work always makes me think, ‘if only I’d thought of that,’ especially with Ezer’s ‘mouth’ type. Its the ingenuity of employing the visualisation of speech and pronunciation to actually create the letterforms that is really inspiring. The fact that when your watching it you have to all most lip read adds another element the piece, the viewer having to work out the sequence. This definitely has legs to developed into a bigger project, I think visually seeing a huge wall of mouths moving to create text would look great.

flexi ticker orange

Unfortunately I can’t even recommend it anymore as it finished last week, but if it was still on then… you get the idea.