Nelly Hayoun



Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun is a designer of extreme experiences that aims to bring the sublime to life.

Dubbed the “Willy Wonka of Design,” Nelly is an award-winning French designer and film-maker who creates multi-platform experiential projects at the intersection of science, theatre, politics and art.

She is the founder of NBH Studios whose mission is to bring chaos to the world; a studio that created the world’s first orchestra of NASA astronauts, and her investigation into rogue earth bound asteroids has changed procedures at the United Nations. Her music collaborators include Bjork, The Prodigy, Beck, Sigur Ross, and Nick Cave to name a few.

Nelly’s most recent impossible project is the University of the Underground, a free post-graduate program across 2 cities; the design education program will create the leaders of the future. Her work is so out of this world, that both Mattel and Lego created a toy version of her.

  • Winner of ICON magazine’s Top 50 Designers
  • Selected by Dezeen as their Top 50 Women in Architecture and Design
  • Winner of the inaugural Wired Innovation Fellowship in 2014
  • Voted by Creative Review as their top 50 leaders.
  • Voted 3 times on The Dots top female leaders list in the same year
  • Short listed at Women of the Year award
  • Mattel and Lego have created a Nelly toy in her honour
  • The only speaker to have been invited back to Design Indaba 3 times


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