Yves Béhar on Re-Inventing the Way Silicon Valley Thinks About Design
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“You were forcing design down people’s throats,” he remembers. “The first thing people would do is look at you straight in the eye and say, ‘What’s the [return on investment] on design?’ And, you know, there was no R.O.I. on design. It made me realize in some ways that we were just being asked to do the outsides,” he says. “We were just essentially decorators of products at that point.”
Rather than try to work within a system he considered wrongheaded, Béhar sought to re-invent it. In 1999 he struck out on his own, founding Fuseproject, a design-and-branding firm in the hip South Park section of San Francisco. He wanted to position himself more as a co-founder, involved in funding and coming up with ideas, not just acting as a hired gun for design. It was simply a matter of finding the right project to justify making that next leap.