Fabien Girardin

Work Biography References


I create data products.
I envision their futures.
I help institutions do the same.

As Co-Founder and Partner at Near Future Laboratory, I believe the best way to build a technology starts by anticipating how people might co-evolve with it. When conceptualizing a product based on data, our prototypes transform visions into a tangible form that anyone can feel and understand. Additionally, our design fictions scan the present and explore possible appropriations of a data product to anticipate future opportunities and challenges. Taken together, they present a tangible concept that uncover implications for the viability and desirability of the product. Some recent projects include:



A service to adopt and employ a sustainable social media hygiene.




An app that connects a traveler's present to another traveler's future.




A data-based diagonistic service of social media related pathologies.




A business intelligence tool for retail shops and restaurants.


Client: BBVA



An environment to gather, shape, and share living data.


Client: Bestiario



A city guide that recommends places based on analogies.


Client: BBVA Data & Analytics


Swiss born based in Barcelona.

Fabien Girardin (PhD) is a researcher, engineer and creator who co-founded the Near Future Laboratory, a micro-multinational Design Fiction agency based in Barcelona, Geneva, San Francisco and Venice Beach. At the Barcelona bureau, he creates data products, envisions their futures and helps large and small institutions do the same.

Throughout his career, Fabien has pioneered works at the intersection of user experience and data science. Most notably, he developed Digital Footprinting techniques that analyze network data to improve the observations of human mobility[1], urban attractiveness[2] and hyper-congestion[3]. Also he co-created Quadrigram, a visual programming environment that democratizes data manipulation and visualization as part of a practice he coined as Sketching with Data [4].

Fabien holds a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and Digital Communications[5] from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona, Spain. Along his academic journey, he was also affiliated with the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Prior to his graduate studies, he joined the Swiss Federal Institute of Technologies in Lausanne (EPFL) to manage and study the use of collaborative applications. Subsequently, Fabien co-founded Simpliquity, an EPFL spin-off that produced for the Boeing Company an air-travel detection system used in experience sampling surveys[6]. Earlier in 1997, he developed a web directory popular in Switzerland that he later sold [7] to finance his studies at Biel School of Engineering and move to Silicon Valley.

In addition to occasionally lecture in universities, design and business schools, Fabien speaks in conferences such as O'Reilly Strata, TEDx, Picnic, Lift, IoT Shift, Barcelona Design Week, and Smart City World Congress.

Finally, his work was exhibited in CCCB, the National Football Museum in Manchester[8], the Design Museum of Barcelona and Laboral of Gijón.[9]


Selected Publications

[1] Girardin, F., Calabrese, F., Dal Fiore, F., Ratti, C., and Blat, J. (2008). Digital footprinting: Uncovering tourists with user-generated content. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 7(4):36-43.

[2] Girardin, F., Vaccari, A., Gerber, A., Biderman, A., and Ratti, C. (2009). Quantifying urban attractiveness from the distribution and density of digital footprints. International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure Research, 4:175-200.

[3] Girardin, F. (2013). Insights from network data analysis that yield field observations. Ethnography matters.

[4] Girardin, F. (2015). Sketching with Data, in New Challenges for Data Design. pp 189-205 Bihanic, David (Ed.), Springer

[5] Girardin, F. (2009). Aspects of implicit and explicit human interactions with ubiquitous geographic information. PhD thesis, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

[6] Girardin, F., Nova, N., and Dillenbourg, P. (2009). Detecting air travel to survey passengers on a worldwide scale. Journal of Location-Based Services, 3(3):210-226.

Exhibited work

[8] Winning Formula at National Football Museum in Manchester, CCCB and Fundacion Telefonica Madrid, Santiago de Chile (2014)

[9] World's Eyes at Design Museum of Barcelona and LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial (2009)

Selected media coverage

Qui sera responsable des maladies de la connexion?, Le Monde, February 25, 2016.

Muchos números para el fútbol, El Periodico, July 27, 2015.

Un catálogo de Ikea de ciencia ficción muestra el futuro de la tecnología, El Confidencial, July 2, 2015.

Interview with Fabien Girardin. Co-founder of Near Future Laboratory, Smart City Business Institute , December, 2014.

El 'efecto Mona Lisa' guia cada paso de los turistas en el Louvre, El Periodico, February 6, 2012.

La nouvelle science des données, InternetActu, July 12, 2010.

Flickr Photos Yield Tourist Trails, Technology Review, June 15, 2010.

Quelle ville voulons-nous offrir ? Quelle ville espérons-nous recevoir ?, Le Monde, March 6, 2009.

Internet revela los movimientos de los turistas en las ciudades, El Periodico, March 31, 2008.

[7] Avec Yoodle.ch, deux entrepreneurs rêvent d'un Yahoo à la sauce edelweiss, Le Temps, March 11, 2000.

Fabien Girardin. 1995-2016 All Rights Reserved