The power of craftivism: engaging in collective action through crafts during COVID-19

A snapshot of the finished pieces

Craftivist artworks created during lockdown

This initiative explored how craftivism (a slow, mindful and creative form of activism) can help people participate in new and inclusive ways whilst helping them deal with feelings of helplessness and anxiety many of us are experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis. The team asked 40 Nesta staff to embroider messages of hope for their community and dedicate some time to mindful creation and quiet reflection. Read more about how their initiative helped with participants' wellbeing and sense of community during lockdown in their Medium blog.

Codrina Cretu Researcher, Government Innovation, Hessy Elliott Researcher, Government Innovation and Rosalyn Old Researcher, Government Innovation

How might voice assistants help us have better conversations?

Building on the digital twin prediction, this Initiative explores how we can have different ‘selves’ in different situations. Using AI technology and working with writers, designers and producers, the team developed a prototype interactive game (featured below) that allows users to role-play difficult situations at work or home with a voice assistant. The game can be used as a reflective tool with the user playing back their responses and the reactions to them before trying a different approach. Explore the prototype and read more about this Initiative on the Medium Blog.

Catherine Chambers Head of Learning Design, Innovation Skills

Period power in the workplace

Period power calendar

This diagram shows the overall themes brought out by the exploration; these tasks were generally what our participants found comfortable at the corresponding times in their cycle.

This Exploration Initiative explored how people feel when they work in a way that better aligns to their hormonal state. Participants were empowered to plan tasks at work to align with the phases of their menstrual cycle based on existing research and their own experience. Those involved were also coached by a women's health expert and were invited to complete daily journals. The idea for this Initiative was inspired by Nesta’s 2020 prediction about tracking hormonal data to better shape women’s health. To find out more about the key findings from the Initiative, including a set of recommendations, read the team’s Medium blog and full report.

Amy Richards Assistant Programme Manager, Y Lab and Alice Turner Engagement and Communication Manager, Y Lab

Cutting through the noise: the greatest public health hazard you've never heard of

Noise pollution is often neglected in comparison with other environmental issues such as air pollution and climate change, despite having similarly hazardous consequences for public health. Following years of rapid growth in noise pollution, the profoundly changed soundscape during the Covid-19 lockdown provided an opportunity to reflect on what level of noise pollution we are prepared to accept in the future. This project, created in collaboration with a researcher and a composer duo, explores the effects of noise pollution on public health through a four-part blog series with complementary sound compositions. Listen to one of these compositions below. Created using only samples of field recordings from biological, geological, and man-made sounds, this piece breaks up the components of the soundscape into its different spheres, and highlights how man-made sounds dominate the built environment.  To learn and hear more, explore the full series on Medium.

Melissa Wong Impact Manager, Investments

Sliding doors: will digital twins help or hinder our future selves?


Inspired by Nesta’s digital twin prediction, this Initiative explored how access to an all-seeing, all-knowing digital replica of yourself might affect the psychology of decision making. Participants were challenged to adapt their diet for one week to be more environmentally sustainable. A fake chatbot was created that supported half the group, mimicking a digital twin, and left the others to their own devices. A huge variety of experiences emerged as participants tried to change their behaviour, with or without their fake digital twin to support them. Themes such as empowerment, impulsivity and social-reinforcement presented in co-dependent ways.

Hannah Owen Assistant Programme Manager, Education

What does the future of festivals look like?

Futurefest is Nesta’s flagship event for professionals, exploring ideas that have the power to shape the future for the better. This Initiative flipped the current model on its head, exploring what younger people think a festival of the future should look like. Insights were obtained through a survey of young people and a prototype event was planned, with content curated from their suggestions. Unfortunately, lockdown restrictions meant the event was cancelled but this speculative promo film gives you a taste of what the event could have looked like.

Joanna Griffith Events Coordinator, Communications

Silly walking - taken seriously!

For this Initiative, Raphael Leung explored what might fool surveillance systems that try to recognise people from the way they move. The Initiative showed that off-the-shelf cameras can be quite easily integrated with software to recognise characteristics of how we walk. It investigated what affects the accuracy as well as some positive applications too. The idea was inspired by Nesta’s 2020 prediction about silly walks. Read more about the Initiative.

Raphael Leung Data Science Fellow, Creative Economy Research

Inspired to start your own programme? Read our best practice guide to find out more.

Run your own Explorations Initiative programme