Familiarity and simplicity with an empathetic touch

Yang Di
Yves Behar is a designer from Switzerland but has lived in San Francisco for the past 25 years. He founded Fuseproject, a design agency, in 2000.
Yang Di
Familiarity and simplicity with an empathetic touch
Courtesy of Yves Behar / Ti Gong

Yves Behar

Who is he?

Yves Behar is a designer from Switzerland but has lived in San Francisco for the past 25 years. He founded Fuseproject, a design agency, in 2000, and now has about 90 designers who come from different disciplines, from research and strategy, to brand and industrial design, to user experience, digital design and environmental design.  

Tell us some of your works, and name the one you are most proud of?

For me there are three that stand out in very different fields: The Sayl chair with Herman Miller, which is a best seller all around the world, is a new approach to comfort and materials.

We have done many projects for good, from the One Laptop Per Child Program to Verbien, a non-profit in Mexico, who has distributed six million eyeglasses to children in schools. The design made the glasses more fun to wear for the kids by providing different colors and customization. We also work a lot in venture and start-ups, and I am the co-founder of August Smart Locks, the leader in the space of home access. My other favorite in venture is the Happiest Baby Snoo, a smart bassinet start-up that is allowing babies and parents to sleep longer. It is now being used in hospitals for premature babies.

Are you currently involved with any project?

Many projects, from Covid-19 response projects such as a fast deployment ventilator we are doing with Massachusetts General Hospital.

We also just presented Forme Life, a mind and body subscription product, to bring a variety of physical activities to people in their home. From weight training, to yoga, barre and boxing with trainers and instructions, Forme Life also disappears with arms that swing behind a mirror, hence allowing for the exercise station to be easily integrated into any home.

Describe your design style.

I don’t believe in a signature style, but I guess one could say that our style follows ideas. Projects need to respond to needs with empathy and simplicity, so applying the same style to every project doesn’t make sense to me. That said, my belief is that new ideas need both familiarity and differentiation, and that’s how we designed firsts in many different fields, such as the Jambox, the Samsung Frame TV, the Happiest Baby SNOO, Elli-Q and many others.

Where are you most creative?

Either alone sketching at home, or brainstorming with the Fuseproject team. The benefits of our diverse multi-disciplinary team is that ideas will come from many different professional and personal points of views. And after choosing the strongest idea, the team will be able to focus and solve the creative challenge within their own expertise.

What does your home mean to you?

My home is a place of play, work and family. We are lucky as it is a very minimal place, where we have few distractions and are able to focus on each other.  

What do you collect?

We collect art and design, with many artifacts around us that are deeply personal. I love our art and design community, and many of the things on our walls and shelves have stories that remind us of those friendships.

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

I have been in Shanghai, and I love seeing the history of the city through its neighborhoods.

I also love seeing the craftsman and their many works in wood and stone.  

What will be the next big design trend?

Considering the crisis we have gone through, I think design in health and health care is very much needed. I also see technologies that allow us to exercise our mind and body in the home as mainstream.  Finally, the emergence of concerts, parties and DJs we can enjoy live in our home will become prevalent.

During our work from home time, I really enjoyed yoga classes and DJ sets livestreamed into our living room, and having  the  whole family enjoy them means more shared times together.

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