FULL TILT
Wallpaper|June 2021
Yves Behar on the spurs and span of his design for good
JONATHAN BELL

Yves Behar founded Fuseproject in San Francisco 22 years ago. The Swiss designer has been closely associated with rapidly evolving tech products and services ever since. His journey from Swiss punk to design guru effectively mirrored Silicon Valley’s own evolution from a chaotic, DIY-infused alt cultural ecosystem into the engine room of the world economy. On the way, Fuseproject has had triumphs and missteps, dead ends and diversions, but every project is infused with the utopian ethos that technology – done correctly – is a powerful force for good.

A new monograph, Yves Behar: Designing Ideas, charts the process behind his work, and is replete with images of prototypes and concept sketches. ‘Designing Ideas is not about a marketing solution – the final glossy picture – but showing the slow, winding road, the journey of design,’ says Behar. Rather than present Fuseproject’s output in chronological fashion, the book groups it into six sections: Reducing, Sensing, Transforming, Giving, Humanizing and Scaling. Each section captures Behar’s peerless ability to shape and direct how a product or service can best be streamlined for our new era of digitally driven, algorithmically guided consumption.

‘The strength of Fuseproject comes out of the original concept: to fuse disciplines together in the service of an idea,’ Behar says. ‘Being multidisciplinary is what creates these fully fledged solutions. The other thing that has always defined the studio is how we marry this approach to the world of start-ups, where everything has to be created from scratch.’

Although the turn of the century was a fertile time for start-up culture, vast numbers of ‘visionary’ ideas were never translated into physical form. ‘Design has had a tremendous evolution over the last 30 years,’ says Behar. ‘I came to Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s and design was not on the radar. Having studied in the European modern design tradition, I was interested in the opportunity to show how much value design could add to what were mostly engineered products. Design was seen as a decorative last-minute coat of paint.’

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