Meet the Near Now Studio

A critical community for arts, design and innovation; creating technology for the everyday

Posted on 12th October 2016

Written by Mathew Trivett

Last year, we became one of three national partners, alongside Makerversity’s MV Works and Madlab’s Arts+Tech Accelerator, piloting ways to support innovation across arts and technology in a scheme jointly sponsored by Arts Council England and Innovate UK.

We set out on a mission to bring together a T-shaped group of pioneers working across Visual Arts, Design, Software, Writing and Publishing, Engineering, Policy, Strategy, Storytelling and Research.

We opened the call, and worked with an incredible panel of mentors and advisors - including Anab Jain from Superflux, Beatrice Pembroke from British Council Creative Economy, Sarah Drummond from Snook and Derek MacAuley from Horizon - to narrow down a shortlist.

The selected cohort formed the Near Now Studio and became part of our growing community, which includes the Near Now Fellows - designer Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad, artist Erica Scourti, and Sarah Gold, founder of IF.

Over the last year we have supported Studio members to research and develop new projects enabled by technology that create meaning and value for people’s everyday lives.

Read on to hear more about the Studio members and what they have been working on.

Amy Martin


Amy is an independent producer developing future artists and audiences utilising the skills, expertise and talents of a digital generation. She has collaborated on creative projects with BBC, 4Talent, Fierce Festival, Breakin’ Convention, Microsoft, RSC, IdeasTap and Arts Council England. Amy is Creative Director at Impact Hub Birmingham and a research fellow at Birmingham Open Media, exploring innovation in childcare.

Working on re-imagining childcare for the 21st century, through new approaches built on trust, flexibility and shared resources.

Bhavani Esapathi


Bhavani Esapathi is a digital innovation consultant within the cultural sector and the founder of Invisible Labs which transforms the way disability is viewed by bringing invisible disability to mainstream media. She is an RSA Fellow and Huffington Post Blogger interested in ways technology can help solve global issues by creating social impact initiatives.

Developing Invisible Labs, a social innovation platform to help the lives of people challenged by chronic conditions. Bringing new insights to research through storytelling and data with the goal of improving public understanding and treatment options.

Candice Jacobs


Candice Jacobs is an artist whose work focuses on identity and the collective experience between work and leisure; and how repetition can be a means of power, pleasure, control and escape. Drawing on aesthetics from mass media and consumerism, her output spans moving image, sculpture, product, graphic and spatial design. Recent and upcoming shows include Unproductive Freedom (Vitrine); Solo show with Cactus Gallery (Mexico Art Fair); Follow (FACT); Thunder Doooooooooooooo me & Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf (56th Venice Biennale); Sleeping Upright and Accidentally on Purpose.

Creating a collective self-portrait and founding an artist-led network to produce a series of events, exhibitions and artworks that explore the creation of an evolving support structure and collective care strategy.

Carina Namih


Carina Namih works with emerging technologies to build social products. She cofounded HelixNano, an early-stage company at the intersection of software, genetics and synthetic biology. Her previous company, awarded for social innovation by the White House, enables circular integration of the electronics supply chain. She studied moral and political philosophy at Oxford, is an RSA fellow, a 2013 alumna of the Singularity University and an advisor to the upcoming Science Art Gallery London.

Researching the ways that data about our health and bodies is being collected, analysed and used. How might we outweigh the risks of compromised privacy against the potential benefits to medical research and healthcare services?

Jess Rose


Jess is an illustrator and designer that likes to seek inspiration in the strangest of things. Painting fruit blue may surprise you pleasantly, paint scratched off a wall could become a reindeer, multi-coloured lichen can brighten a barbecue. She loves to reflect on the mundane absurdities of everyday life and challenge common perceptions through her work, usually in a colourful manner. Jess works as a designer, print specialist and book seller at Libreria, a bookshop from Second Home.

Bringing design expertise to the Invisible Labs social innovation platform project through bold and playful illustration.

Marta Monge


Born in Torino, Italy, Marta is an interdisciplinary designer with Industrial Design training and a socially focused design practice, now based in London. She has worked with clients including VISA, Intel, Microsoft and London Design Festival. Marta uses approaches from ethnography and storytelling alongside industrial design to create prototypes, interfaces and fictional products as situations for debate around complex issues.

Bringing design expertise to the Re-imagining Childcare project through research and prototyping.

Matt Woodham


Matt is a creative technologist based in Nottingham, working as a designer/developer and creating music videos, promos and visuals. He graduated in 2015 from University of Nottingham having studied Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. His clients include One Thoresby Street, Creative Quarter, New Midland Group, Wigflex and Dewy Sinatra.

Working on a platform addressing the future challenges of work that aims to make finding collaborators more fair and meaningful.

Naomi Turner


Naomi is a design historian having worked in parliament and for a political think-tank, focusing on increasing the profile of design and manufacturing to policymakers. Previous to this role, she supported a front-bench opposition MP and has worked for a number of museums to curate small exhibitions and undertake research. She is a member of Fig. 9, a collective research and consultancy group interested in experimental history of design.

Bringing policy and design expertise to the Re-imagining Childcare project through research and prototyping.

Stories from the Studio

Find out more about all of the projects developed through the Near Now Studio over on the Stories page.

Join our community of pioneers

We are always looking for partners, collaborators and inspiring mentors to join our community of pioneers.

If one of the studio projects sparks your thinking or you’re interested to learn more, please get in touch.




Mathew Trivett