Yves Béhar is a Swiss-born designer and the founder of Fuseproject. He has worked on products from well-known companies such as Herman Miller, Apple, Puma, GE, SodaStream, Samsung, Issey Miyake, Prada and others. The 48-year-old is also the chief creative officer of August and Jawbone. Behar, who now lives in San Francisco, is a keen surfer who compares surfing to improvisational jazz.
When Yves Béhar and I met about six years ago, we immediately got along, probably because we both love connectedness, technology, bags and watches. And design too. Or is it perhaps that I can get metaphysical and philosophical about these things when talking with Yves? Regardless, at many of my events, you could find busy Yves and me huddled together, chatting about our common interests.
Over the years, as I have sunk deeper into technology, it's become important for me to invest in some of the handmade, analog traditions that I value — fountain pens, sublime paper and mechanical watches. And yet I couldn’t help but buy the new Issey Miyake watch, Vue, designed by Yves. Despite its being powered by quartz movement (thus making it digital), the watch's sheer minimal beauty grabbed my attention. “Why do I need to see all twelve numbers when only one is needed?” Yves said.
He has a special bond with watches. “Watches are a great way to think about how products should be designed to last,” he told me a few years ago, because they “have to withstand constraints of life — water, dust, scratches.” That makes them a pinnacle of design. And thanks to Apple and its Apple Watch, the devices are back in conversation.
Earlier this year, Yves came out with his third watch: the Movado Edge. It too is not mechanical, and yet it is modern, minimal and iconic, much like the Movado Museum Dial watch designed by Nathan George Horwitt in 1947. Edge is a worthy descendant to the Dial, with no numbers except for a solitary gold dot at 12 o'clock, symbolizing the sun at high noon. When I saw the photos, I was full of admiration for the design, which moves away from the current highly detailed two-dimensional graphic designs of watch faces to a more subtle three-dimensional and yet recognizable design. I knew I had to talk to Yves about it. An email later, we were sitting across from each other, nerding out about the watch. Here are excerpts from that conversation.