Fabien Girardin

Work Biography References


Data Products with Human Values.

As Co-Founder and Partner at Near Future Laboratory, I create data products, envision their futures and help large and small institutions do the same.

I believe the best way to build a technology starts by anticipating how people will co-evolve with it. When conceptualizing a product based on data, my prototypes transform visions into a tangible form that anyone can feel and understand. Additionally, my design fictions scan the present and explore possible appropriations of a data product to anticipate future opportunities and constraints. Taken together, they present a tangible concept with the implications on engineering and user experience. Some recent work include:



An API that slows down social media feeds to human pace.




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

For these projects, I frequently seek the unique talents of Bestiario (Information Design), Claro Partners (Service Design), Data Side (Machine Learning), and of course Near Future Laboratory (Design Fiction).


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 collaborative applications. Subsequently, Fabien co-founded Simpliquity, an EPFL spin-off that produced for the Boeing Company an air-travel detection systems 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 work in Silicon Valley.

In addition to occasionally lecture at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD) and the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalunya (IAAC), Fabien speaks in conferences such as O'Reilly Strata, Picnic, Lift, Barcelona Design Week, and Smart City World Congress.

Finally, his work has featured in CCCB, the National Football Museum in Manchester[8], the Design Museum of Barcelona and Laboral.[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 (2014)

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

Selected media coverage

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. 1995-2015 All Rights Reserved