Every year Sónar+D forms a key part of the stamina-pushing Sónar Festival, one of Europe’s biggest and most forward-thinking dance music events.

If you have ever wondered what the D stands for, it all becomes clear when you look at it like this… SónaR+D. While festivalgoers rave outside, its lab space acts as a node between the innovation, creative and technology communities.

We asked the women behind it which female artists they’re most excited about: “Every year there are more women involved,” explained Antònia Folguera, Curator and Communication. “The goal is to achieve gender balance and we know we will get there.”

From Björk, to a quantum physicist artist, to a hardcore maker, these are their top picks.


1. Ayah Bdeir, littleBits

This is a hat trick

Engineer, interaction artist and free hardware advocate

Ayah Bdeir is the creative entrepreneur behind the award-winning littleBits,  a kit of open source easy-to-use electronic building blocks – like engines, oscillators and batteries – that snap together with magnets. Used by hundreds of schools to teach electronics, they empower boys and girls to invent anything – from an alarm, to a wireless robot, to a digital instrument – and are a favourite tool of designers, makers and inventors. (There’s a reason they have been called the ‘Lego of the 21 Century’.)

“When we created Sónar+D five years ago, Ayah Bdeir was one of the first names on our wish list because she is creative, techie, entrepreneurial and she is a woman. She defies the white male stereotype. It’s a reflection of Sónar+D’s diversity.” – Astrid Rousse, Sónar+D General Manager

Ayah Bdeir will deliver the keynote ‘Coding + Creativity’.


2. Björk, Icelandic artist

This is a hat trick

This is a hat trick

This year Björk is opening the festival with a four hour dj set, a virtual reality exhibition at the CCCB Barcelona and a talk at Sónar+D which focuses on her interactive audio visual world. This makes us ‘Violently Happy’.

“Björk is one of the artists who has best moved the borders between art and technology in a continuous exploration with her own unique language.” – Angela Precht, Sonar+D Communication

Get ready for Bjork x 3.


3. Nadya Peek, MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms

Making machines that make

Making machines that make

At MIT Nadya Peek teaches a class called ‘How to Make Something that Makes (almost) Anything’ – developing novel fabrication machines that make machines that make.

“Nadya Peek represents the ‘hardcore’ side of maker culture, developing open-source systems to build and design machines. And she is a post-doc at the Center for Bits and Atoms (which is possibly the coolest department at the MIT). Not to forget that she is in a band with Marko Ahtisaari.” – Antònia Folguera, Sónar+D Curator and Communication

Crazy machines, weird workflows and factory shots.


4, Libby Heaney, quantum physicist/artist

Tinder something

The literary novel meets Tinder

Taking quantum physics as a starting point, Libby Heaney‘s Lady Chatterley’s Tinderbot is what it sounds like – an AI bot she has programmed to converse on Tinder with dialogue drawn from D.H. Lawrence’s novel ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. She brings together humans and non-humans and pre- and post-digital love machines.

“Libby Heaney is awesome because she is an artist who studied quantum physics and she represents the type of creator that we admire, someone who is half scientist and half artist, whose work is fun, original and intelligent (and intellectual).” – Antònia Folguera, Sónar+D Curator and Communication

 Explore love in a post-digital age.


5. Carla Diana, robot designer

darla something

This is design futurism

Carla Diana explores the impact of smart objects in the home, highlighting opportunities for designers to pioneer new territory in rich interaction – but without forgetting to be meaningful and responsible.

“Carla’s approach to robotics caught immediately our attention. She approaches machines in a playful, respectful and open way: she tries to learn from machines. For Carla, revolution starts in the everyday things. She demonstrates that being innovative can be done with responsibility, functionality and care.” – Marta D. Riezu, Sónar Social Media Manager

► Be charmed by robots and learn tinkering techniques.


AtlasAction: Are you in the music industry? During the festival, Sónar’s Head of Communimcation Georgia Taglietti is looking forward to meeting up with fellow members of shesaid.so – the network of women in music which works to break down gender stereotypes, raise awareness of the gender gap and increase the profile of women who are making an impact in the industry. Learn more and join up here.


The wonderful Georgia Taglietti – friend of the Atlas women


Listen Georgia Taglietti and Antònia Folguera talk to Barcelona City FM.