Nelly Ben Hayoun runs NBH Studio, "an interdisciplinary 'Willy Wonka' design studio which creates subversive events and experiences. Its mission is to bring chaos and disorder into the branding, scientific and design world. They work with leading scientists, creatives, writers and engineers worldwide."
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While some of the studio's work is probably best described as experimental design (with the primary intent of exploring phenomena and concepts like sonic booms rather than attempting to voice a substantive discourse), many of their projects are indeed discursive and have a bold, subversive edge.
Photo by Nick Ballon
One such project is their Disaster Playground, launched in March at SXSW, which explores future outer space catastrophes and the procedures in place to manage and mitigate associated risks — "How would we deal with a planet-killer asteroid?"
She is interested in presenting a real world, non-Bruce-Willis-as-the-hero view of the impact of potentially life-altering and devastating events. "There might be something to be gained from revealing problems to the public in order to help secure funding, which is a 'big difficulty.'… Humans are more willing to support a cause if you understand the difficulties involved."
Like many designers working in speculative design and design fiction she communicates her ideas through film and uses designed objects as props and creates environments/sets to support the discourse.
"The film follows scientists leading the monitoring and deflection of hazardous Near-Earth Objects and the real-life procedures in place in the event of an asteroid collision with Earth. Follow the chain of command that runs from NASA and the SETI Institute to the White House and United Nations, meeting the people who are responsible for protecting us from a potentially devastating asteroid impact."
Bruce and Stephanie Tharp lead a husband-and-wife design studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan where they also are professors at the University of Michigan's Stamps School of Art & Design. Their studio has licensed and commissioned products and projects for companies like Ligne Roset, Moet-Hennessy, The Art Institute of Chicago, Crate&Barrel, Kikkerland, and Design Ideas. Educated in mechanical engineering, sociocultural anthropology, and industrial design, their practice and teaching crosses disciplinary boundaries of design, business, engineering, and healthcare, as well as the four fields of design: commercial, responsible, experimental, and discursive design. They are currently finishing a book project on discursive design.