Ten Questions for: Yves Behar

Swiss designer Yves Behar is the founder of fuseproject, and has worked with clients including Herman Miller, Puma, See Better to Learn Better and Samsung. Among his projects has been a redesign of Sodastream bottles and more recently a partnership with Centro to create designs for a Miami-based commercial residential project, which continues his explorations in sustainable design through eliminating onsite parking garages and partnering with vehicle share project Car2Go.

Yves Behar.

When did you realize you wanted to be a designer?

When I was 14  or 15 I decided that design was a good pursuit for me; I could draw and build my fantasies, I could create stories though products. This is also when I started designing and building things in my parents’ basement in Switzerland. 

 What was your first job?

I had many jobs as a teenager, from lifeguard to barman. I was also a costume designer for a theatre company a little later. But my first design job was an internship at Steelcase, and a full-time job at a design firm started by an alumni of the Charles and Ray design office Bruce Burdick. 

How would you describe what you currently do?

I design, I help build ideas, I brainstorm with my team. These are the most important jobs I do.

What has been the biggest change in design since you started?

Design has radically changed in the last 15 years. From a practice often seen as superficial and non-impactful in business, to today when design is seen as a strategic tool for companies to prosper. Steve Jobs gave designers credibility in business. Now we see many companies with co-founders that are pioneering new types of enterprises, virtually unknown in the US in the 1990s. 

What is your favorite project, that you¹ve worked on?

There are a few favorite projects: Design for the developing world was really changed by the One Laptop per Child. Sustainability engagement with consumers changed for PUMA when the Clever Little Bag appeared on the market. And the new era of wireless speakers was ushered in thanks to the Jambox.

What is your favorite project, that you haven¹t worked on?

One day I’ll have to design a car or a plane.

What was your biggest mistake?

I have made many but maybe a lack of confidence in the beginning of fuseproject.

What is your greatest ambition?

To inspire others, and for design to accelerate the adoption of new ideas. New ideas that are important in our 21st century. 

Who is the most inspirational person you have worked with?

Nicolas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop Per Child, Hosain Rahman the founder of Jawbone, and the incredible dedication to the tradition of designer partnerships that Herman Miller has shown me. 

What piece of advice would you give to people starting out in design?

I would be laser focused in becoming very proficient in one design discipline. And then, once the young designer is part of a team, people will start seeking you out for your excellence and ideas, and integrate you in new subjects and disciplines of design. ‘Work Hard, Be Good’ is my mantra. 

Yves Behar is founder of fuseproject. You can read more about Centro here 

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