UNSCRIPTED with Yves Béhar: The ocean is my happy place

In this UNSCRIPTED episode, Swiss industrial designer Yves Béhar reflects on his secret tryst with writing and why water means ‘a moment of zen’ for him.

by Zohra KhanPublished on : Oct 08, 2021

"I think, in a way, writing is similar to designing. You start with nothing. You have to fill the blank page with the right ideas, the right emotions, and the right intent.”

- Yves Béhar

A passion for reading science fiction and writing short stories engrossed Yves Béhar (b.1967) when he was a kid. A strange student as he describes himself, Behar's grades would always perplex his teachers in school: “I would get a 10 in writing, and a four in grammar and spelling, which seems like the same thing, but it probably isn’t." As someone who pursued design only after finding it an equally exhilarating counterpart to writing, the 43-year-old Swiss industrial designer shares interesting nuggets from his life on UNSCRIPTED.

  • A photo of Yves Béhar taken when he was 16 | UNSCRIPTED | fuseproject | STIRworld
    A photo of Yves Béhar taken when he was 16 Image: Courtesy of fuseproject
  • A photo of him enjoying Swiss winters from his childhood | UNSCRIPTED | fuseproject | STIRworld
    A photo of him enjoying Swiss winters from his childhood Image: Courtesy of fuseproject

Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, to a German translator mother (Christine Béhar) and a Turkish stamp collector father (Henry Béhar), it was at the age of 15 when Yves Béhar first experimented with the art of ‘making’ (which he believes is also a form of thinking). “My parents,” he says, “had gotten me a work bench where I would saw, glue, and clamp things together. I also built a contraption to windsurf on the frozen lakes in Switzerland.” Called out as ‘the one with imagination’ in school, he agrees to having cultivated it above all else, "through not only what he wrote and read but also by creating new things on his own.”

  • As the founder of fuseproject, Béhar ‘s works are pivoted on the belief that design can change people’s lives, make lives better, and create what’s next | UNSCRIPTED | fuseproject | STIRworld
    As the founder of fuseproject, Béhar ‘s works are pivoted on the belief that design can change people’s lives, make lives better, and create what’s next Image: Courtesy of fuseproject
  • The integrated approach of the studio fuses together all the elements of an experience | UNSCRIPTED | fuseproject | STIRworld
    The integrated approach of the studio fuses together all the elements of an experience Image: Courtesy of fuseproject

A radical thinker and a sustainability advocate, tech products and services by the Swiss designer exemplify the transformative power of technology in delivering better experiences. Béhar was the design leader who developed product identities for brands such as Apple and Hewlett-Packard at the Silicon Valley offices of Frog Design and Lunar Design, before he established design and innovation firm fuseproject in 1999.  Bringing together disciplines of strategy, brand design, product design, visual design, experience design, environment and retail design, some of fuseproject’s clients include Herman Miller, PUMA, Jawbone, Kodak, General Electric, Swarovski, Samsung, Jimmyjane, and Prada.

  • One Laptop Per Child, XO Laptop | UNSCRIPTED | fuseproject | STIRworld
    One Laptop Per Child, XO Laptop Image: Courtesy of fuseproject
  • Jawbone Jambox | UNSCRIPTED | fuseproject | STIRworld
    Jawbone Jambox Image: Courtesy of fuseproject
  • NYC Condom | UNSCRIPTED | fuseproject | STIRworld
    NYC Condom Image: Courtesy of fuseproject
  • SNOO | UNSCRIPTED | fuseproject | STIRworld
    SNOO Image: Courtesy of fuseproject

Béhar introduced the first wireless speaker to the market (Jambox, 2010), designed a series of low-cost, low-power laptops for distribution to low-income schoolchildren (OLPC XO Laptop, 2013), presented a stunning timepiece that faded passing hours from the watch’s face (Vue Watch, Issey Miyake, 2010), and redesigned the NYC Condom logo and vending machine in 2008 as part of an initiative to reduce HIV /AIDS and teen pregnancy, among countless other projects in which he channelled technology as “a tool, much like a fabric which one can cut, sew, and make into a lot of things”. As someone who detests the word gadget, for it implies for him something that is a short-term entertainment destined to end up in trash heaps, he likes it when technology works in the background and not demands one’s attention.

“I feel remade after an hour or two in water,” says Yves Béhar on UNSCRIPTED | UNSCRIPTED | fuseproject | STIRworld
“I feel remade after an hour or two in water,” says Yves Béhar on UNSCRIPTED Image: Courtesy of fuseproject

Béhar likes to indulge in surfing as a respite from screen time. Expressing his deep connection with water in our 17-minute video conversation, he recalls how experiencing the long-haul greyness of the Swiss winters in his childhood led him to treasure water as “an escape, a moment of zen, and reflection".

Watch the complete episode to listen to one of his extraordinarily scary surfing experiences, his secret tip to good health, and his latest obsession.

All photographs © fuseproject, unless stated otherwise. Images may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced or used in part or whole without obtaining permission. The photographs in this video are not licensed for personal, commercial or public use, or use in the public domain in any form.

UNSCRIPTED:
Curated by PramitiMadhavji (Consultant, Content Adviser, STIR), UNSCRIPTED is a STIR-original series of quick-witted video interviews with leading design professionals who give us an undiscovered peek into their lives. A melting pot of quests, revelations and quirks, the series releases a new episode every Sunday as designers reveal unheard and unknown nuggets from their lives, in response to 30 questions.  

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