Béhar says European designers ‘take the back seat’

Fuse Project president Yves Béhar is criticising European designers for not taking a leadership position in dealing with clients.

‘I think designers in Europe too easily take the back seat,’ says the Swiss-born industrial designer, based in San Francisco. He adds, ‘In Europe it is quite static, but it’s great [for a designer] to be creative with the parts you’re expected to be creative with and creative on the business side. People [on the West Coast of the US] believe we can change things.’

Béhar, who won the Design Museum’s first Brit Insurance Design Award in 2008 for his One Laptop Per Child computer, will share his observations in a head-to-head with design writer Alice Rawsthorn at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London tonight.

He is expected to explain how he works with entrepreneurial start-up companies in California’s Silicon Valley, being part of the set-up process from the outset, instilling design into the entire process  and sharing equity with the founders for as long as it takes for the company to become established.

‘When you create the DNA, it’s harder to unravel,’ he says, adding that ‘the DNA gets stronger’ the longer the involvement continues.

Recent examples include Fuse Project’s involvement in the Mission electric extreme sports motorcycle, and the Pact range of organic underwear with a percentage of sales going to charities of the customer’s choice.

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  • gareth simpson November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    How can an industrial designer, based in San Francisco make a comment about European designers not taking a leadership position in dealing with clients?

    I have been based in Italy working with “European” clients for some time and its not a leadership problem. The main problem in Italy for example is the heavy bureaucratic system does not allow for Entrepreneurs to flourish. Young people are not able to take decision within companies in order to create new ideas/products without the direct influence of the, more often than not, family owner.
    There is more to be done than just trying to take a leadership position in my view.

  • Nick Garrett November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Agreeing with Gareth. I too design out of northern Italy and can see no connection in the artcle to what is happening here. You cannot lead when the market resists dynamic forward thinking. Europe walks at its own pace which is sadly for many out of time with say the dynamic that I work with, out of China. The business is not conceptual here. Nor is it anywhere else in the world. If you have good product at the right budget you get interest and share the movement toward destination. It is not about lead today. It is about working harder together from focused conception to market delivery and hard, proving sales. Behar works and talks out of a silicon bubble and how it shows.

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