The founder of fuseproject (“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 second nature to evaluate objects based on how they work and how they look,” he explains.
Béhar grew up in a bicultural home, influenced by his 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.”
For a relatively young designer, he has had a remarkable career. A graduate of the Art Center College of Design in California, he started out working with high-tech Silicon Valley clients such as Apple and Hewlett Packard, eventually gravitating into the sport, clothing, technology and furniture arenas.
One of the countless magazine articles written about Béhar called him “the multi-disciplinary designer of our time”. His long list of awards includes the prestigious National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum, where his work is part of their permanent collection.
In 2004 he had two solo exhibitions, one at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the other at the Musee de Design et D’arts Appliques Contemporains in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“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 an 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 that he wanted to do something for the company himself. “Design is very much at the centre of Herman Miller’s culture,” he says. “So one day I just picked up the phone, called them and said, ‘Let’s work together.’”
Four years later, Herman Miller introduced his two brilliantly innovative lighting products, Leaf and Ardea.
Given the wide range of products he works on, it would seem that Béhar might have a hard time escaping thoughts of design. Not at all, he says. “I have many outside interests that keep me balanced. For example, I love surfing, windsurfing and snowboarding. So I spend a lot of time in the natural world too.”
As for his future, Béhar says he’s very content designing products for companies who are “looking for departure, change and transformation. I’m continually excited working with people who want to move forward into the future and onto the next generation.”