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Yves Béhar

Yves Béhar

Switzerland (1967)
Headshot of designer.

"Design brings stories to life," said Yves Béhar in 1999. Today, that idea is no longer breaking news, but Béhar was one of the first to talk about the narrative content of form and the emotional connection between person and object. In the decade since, he has become one of the heroes of the design world by performing extraordinary feats of design that fuse poetry with technological innovation.

Through fuseproject, a San Francisco-based design and branding firm, Béhar has won international recognition for his work with Herman Miller, Toshiba, Nike, Microsoft and Mini Cooper. But the Swiss-Turkish designer views his role as something more than product development. "I believe design's purpose is not only to show us the future," he states, "but to bring us the future."

As one might expect from a designer whose creations are as compelling as the Jawbone headset for Aliph and the Leaf Light for Herman Miller, Béhar has been featured in countless articles for publications like Metropolis, Architectural Record and Business Week. In conversation, he consistently returns to design's ethical and expressive aspects, as well as his desire to "use technology as an asset, rather than a constraint." These themes inform Béhar's own personal story, which includes a childhood in Switzerland and the bi-cultural influences of a "modernist" East German mother and "poetic" Turkish father, as well as immersion in the dot-com boom of the 1990s.

Following graduation from Art Center College of Design, Béhar worked for two Bay Area design houses, Frog and Lunar, then opened his own studio in San Francisco's South Park. His long list of awards includes the National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum, as well as four Red Dot Design Awards, the ID Magazine Annual Design Competition (2002-2006) and several IDEA, Business Week Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards.

In 2004, Béhar had two solo exhibitions, one at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the other at the Musée de Design et D'Arts Appliqués Contemporains in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The designer heads up Industrial Design at California College of the Arts (CCA,) where he encourages students to become involved in all aspects of object making. He also attempts to install a global sensibility and to instill a sense of the designer's responsibility to culture and our collective future. For Béhar, design is one of the most important tools we have for "departure" and "transformation."

The Leaf Light, which he developed for Herman Miller, exemplifies Béhar's approach to design, marrying elegance of form with energy-efficient LED technology and a consideration of the different emotional needs of users. "Leaf is designed to give the user a full spectrum of choices to express light's magical and sensory variations," says Behar.

Yves Béhar

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