Yves Béhar: designing ideas

Yves Behar

Yves Béhar (1967, Lausanne, Switzerland) is a Swiss designer and entrepreneur. He studied in Lausanne, Switzerland and at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

In 1999 he founded the design and branding firm Fuseproject. His Fuseproject studio reflects an integrated approach to design, bringing together strategy, brand design, product design, visual design, experience design, environment and retail design to deliver on all the dimensions of an experience in an integrated way.

“The idea of Fuseproject is to fuse different discipline in service of big ideas”.

His early works include Jawbone Jambox speakers, One Laptop per Child, and Sayl chair in collaboration with Herman Miller’s furniture company. He has collaborated with many brands such as Movado, Samsung, Puma, Issey Miyake, Prada, Swarovski, SodaStream, and Nivea.

“Advertising is the price companies pay for being unoriginal”.

For Yves Béhar design is much more generous as a profession, it’s much more open to all the fields. His view is that solving problems today has to be done in with a multidisciplinary and multi-industry approach. His design approach is related to the positive role that design can have for social and environmental change. Much of the design is done for the comfortable middle part of life, for Béhar design should move on problem learning and solving: where you have young parents, babies, sick and ageing people – for example – these are the places where design and technology can make a huge difference.

“I believe there is an edge that technology can bring to solve some of these extremes of life issues”.

Modern life presents big questions to us: how we reconcile these paradoxes, in it we find the most interesting design solutions.

“The designer is a listener: he should be attuned to the world to continue to make a difference”.

His projects reflect on contemporary questions and problems, trying to find a design way to reconcile with them. He believes a product should be original and honest, clear and simple.

Climate anxiety vs Human pleasure:

He collaborated with The Ocean Cleanup from Holland, the Dutch non-profit organisation, designing sunglasses made from the plastic of the Pacific Ocean. A remedial project in which discarded plastic trash is broken down and turned into 100% ocean plastic. It shows that ocean trash is not trash but treasure, a material that can have high performance and be beautiful. Every pair of sunglasses purchased allows the clean-up of the ocean to the equivalent of 24 football fields.

Another interesting project related to the ocean is Proteus, envisioned together with Fabian Cousteau. It is the largest attempt to build an underwater scientific station, with the mission to bring research to the ocean. These scientific research modular pods allow research groups to collaborate in order to study and understand the environmental consequences related to oceans.

Technology vs humanity:

How can design unite technology and humanity?

Yves Béhar, reflecting on lack of sleep in babies and post-partum depression, developed SNOO: a baby bassinet that through sensors and motion sound help babies to sleep, giving rest to the parents.  Another project is ELLI – Q addressed to elderly people to allow them to communicate and stay in touch, avoiding loneliness. Easy to use, the device provides elderly communities with a companion, keeping them engaged and their brain active. A more recent project is Moxie focused on autism: a robot that engages learning in children.

Beauty & Craft vs Nature:

The wood waste entering our waste streams has impact on our ecosystems. Béhar, together with The Forust, developed a circular project: discarded materials, sawdust and lignin from the reminiscence of the wood production, is used to create new wood products using a 3D printing system.

Home vs Tech:

Yves Béhar also developed building environment projects. Technology becomes invisible in the home in the projects such as The Frame for Samsung, where the screen can be hung like a painting, and Forme Life Mirror, a mirror and an exercise platform to be used in the home when required.

He has also been at the forefront of entrepreneurial venture design, co-founding FORME Life, August, and Canopy. An interesting project is the YALE Linus smart lock, a system that allows people to remotely control their front door and removes brain worries and complexity to people’s lives. Other interesting venture projects are Ori, a robotic furniture system for small apartments and Opus Sound Bed, a meditation and relaxation bed.

“My belief is to really think about intent: what is your intent as a designer? For me it is to reconcile some of the idiosyncratic notions and challenges that we have in our world today. Don’t be afraid of humble projects but also be sure that you can make a big difference, stay open minded!”.

Yves Béhar has received numerous awards and honours. He is the only designer to have received two INDEX Awards for his projects “One Laptop per Child” XO Laptop and “Ver Bien para Aprender Mejor”.


Yves Béhar was guest of our “Disrupting Pattern Talks”, the series of multidisciplinary and innovation-oriented talks by Domus Academy that deal with various topics related to design, deepening them with the desire for research, contemporary processes and future themes. He discussed with our students his career and approach to design and projects and shared tips and insights.

Watch the full video and revive the talk!

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