“It was so interesting to me that a lot of our portfolio, people recognize as industrial design”, says Fuseproject founder and creative CEO, Yves Béhar, of his multidisciplinary studio, after announcing the new digital division, Fusedigital.
“But really, Samsung The Frame”, he says – gesturing to the picture-frame-cum-television behind him in the fake Zoom background – “is now one of the best-selling TVs in the world . digital experience project. The whole concept of digitized art, from bringing large institutions into the living room, in a way that integrates with the room and disappears due to the light sensors… it was really a digital experience”.
“We are no strangers to digital innovation; we feel that we can go deeper into it and that we can push some of our projects forward”, he says.
Fusedigital seeks to enhance Fuseproject’s ability to design digital experiences by delivering UI, UX and front-end development. The project was made possible following the strategic acquisition of Lisbon-based digital agency Mindshaker.
According to the studio, the Fuseproject Mindshaker leadership team felt the best fit after meeting with several digital design firms across Portugal and Spain.
Béhar says that design education and capabilities are very high in Portugal “from industrial design to digital”, but it was also a matter of culture.
He describes how innovative ideas come from the region’s “creative spirit” and “open-mindedness”, and of Mindshaker himself, he says: “We have been working together for some time, the quality of their work, and the quality of their culture as it was. very attractive to us.
“We really felt a strong connection with that team”, he says. “The two founders, João Almeida and Luís Correia, are great partners”.
Meanwhile its beachfront location in Lisbon near Caparica provides another parallel between the US West Coast and the “west coast of Europe”. “When you come in, their office is filled with all the team’s surfboards. They go surfing after work every day”, he says.
The second aspect of the expansion is the provision of a European headquarters – Fuseproject’s first outside the United States.
“Traditionally we did about 50% of our work outside the United States and we had long-term relationships with companies in Europe”, says Béhar. He refers to his own Swiss heritage, and explains that Thomas Moeller, director of experience design for the Fusedigital division, is already based in London.
Setting up in Europe emphasizes the studio’s “global perspective”, while also addressing some of the areas that are important to Fuseproject, such as healthcare.
“In Europe the context can be very different”, says Béhar. “Obviously with national healthcare”, and the fact that “health and healthcare and wellness are embedded in a completely different way in European culture”, he says, “I feel in some ways it allows Europe to move faster in those areas of innovation and care, and developing better and more well-designed ways of looking after people”.
On the question of what Fusedigital can bring to the sector, Béhar is unequivocal. “A lot of the big players in the digital space tend to come from tech, and they tend to be large outsourcing groups that are more driven by a back-end and technology mindset”, he says. “For us, what we feel is that we need to be design-oriented, we need to be driven by user experience, in a humanistic way, and we are driven by innovation. And I think those qualities are rarely at the heart of those practices.”
“We have practiced digital design, UI, UX, for more than fifteen years”, he says – highlighting the August smart lock app and platform, as well as the Samsung The Frame platform and interface – “but the ability was not we never enter. complete implementation with content and capacity development.”
Projects already underway are spread across transport; Health care; “a cultural project that celebrates museums, art and artists in a digital environment”; a sustainability engagement platform that “provides, reinforces data and rewards sustainable behavior”; as well as a project related to “solar deployment and robotics”.
“We will continue to work on the new ones in the world and sometimes the first time in the world, together with this group”, he says. “Everything we do tends to have a very strong innovation bias, a very strong first-class opportunity, and we feel the quality of design thinking and innovation we bring is truly unique in the field”.
In terms of long-term goals, Béhar says that Fuseproject has always been about “the ability of design to be the glue between new technologies, new possibilities, and the incredible needs we have out there in the world”.
“Over the years we have really focused on areas where we felt design had a really big role to play”. Discussing the interest in the environment and sustainability, he says, “It’s not like we haven’t been screaming that over the roofs for the last fifteen years, but I think it’s going to accelerate a lot in the next ten next year. And we’ve seen a lot more interest in areas like consumer engagement, sustainability, carbon capture, solar and electric and deployment.”
Béhar will divide his time between Lisbon and San Francisco, just for longer periods than he had in many previous years.
As for the wider team, there is also a digital team with UX and UI capabilities in San Francisco. “That team is in daily communication on the projects we are sharing, but the California team has a strong desire to spend time in Portugal as well, and vice versa. We now have direct flights between Lisbon and San Francisco, so it makes it very easy”.
All images courtesy of Fuseproject.