Yves Behar

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The designer who gave the world a new Birkenstock and MINI lifestyle products has been consistently upping the ante with his wide-ranging, ambitious work. Consider these two seeming extremes out of Behar's Fuseproject studio: the Morpheus chandelier for Swarovski—a 16,000 crystal, remote-controlled shape shifting sculpture of light; and Nicholas Negroponte's famed One Laptop Per Child, a computer designed to be simple and durable enough to function in the poorest places in the world. But Behar would argue that there's a connection between all of the projects, that the experimental feeds the practical (as Behar's earlier flight of fancy,Voyage, for Swarovski led to his award-winning Leaf LED light for Herman Miller). And Behar has applied the big picture thinking to individual projects—expanding the scope of what a designer can bring to a brand. To wit, in addition to designing the best selling Jawbone headset for Aliph, in 2007 he became the company's VP/CD, overseeing all brand expression. Expect the picture to get even bigger—Behar is now working with mega brands like Coca-Cola and J&J as well as developing new products from the ground up, like Y Water, a new kid friendly drink (created by ex-Red Bull marketer Thomas Arndt).

On fostering a creative culture: "Our creative culture is based on a few key elements: The make-up of the team which is culturally diverse (12 countries or so for 30 employees) and culturally aware. We also operate on an extremely flat structure; as an example we all sit at the same long tables, mixed in experience levels, and mixed in practice: strategy, design, graphics, brand, engineering all sit together. Finally the design of the studio, open and with every wall covered in projects in progress invites everybody to participate."

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