Yves Béhar thinks a lot about the future, and it can be seen in his work—from his reflective red-lacquered laptop for Toshiba to his elegant closed-toe Footprints for Birkenstock and refined Aliph Jawbone Headset for cell phones. “I believe design’s purpose is not only to show us the future, but bring us the future,” he says.
The founder of fuseproject, a firm “dedicated to the emotional experience of brands through storytelling,” Béhar has been exploring the design world since his childhood in Switzerland. “In Europe, it is double nature to evaluate objects based on how they work and how they look,” he explains. He grew up in a bicultural home with an East German mother and Turkish father. “One is functional and modernist, and the other expressive and poetic,” he says. “I always try to marry the two in my projects.”
After graduating from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Béhar worked with high-tech Silicon Valley clients including Apple and Hewlett Packard, eventually gravitating into apparel, technology, and furniture design. “When working with clients, my philosophy is to connect emotionally through ideas and content rather than style,” says Béhar. “It’s less about this or that aesthetic and more about meaningful conversations where people come to agreement in terms of approach and direction.”
His collaboration with Herman Miller came about through one such conversation. An admirer of Charles and Ray Eames, Béhar decided he wanted to do something for the company that produced so many of the couple's most iconic designs. “Design is very much at the center of Herman Miller’s culture,” he says. “So one day I just picked up the phone and said, ‘Let’s work together.’“ The fruits of that collaboration include the visually stunning Sayl Chair.
His awards include the prestigious National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where his work is part of the permanent collection.