Monday, June 9, 2008

Yves Behar

[image via Designboom]

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing prominent San Francisco industrial designer Yves Behar speak at the AIGA Design Lecture Series. Behar grew up in Switzerland and received his B.S. of industrial design from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 1999 he founded the design studio Fuseproject. Widely known as a talented designer, having the opportunity to hear Behar speak in person proved that he is more than that; Behar is personable, well spoken and passionate about creating meaningful design that impacts society worldwide.One of the most important designs that has come out of Fuseproject in recent years is the XO computer created for One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit organization devoted to giving children around the world the power to learn and grow with the help of technology. Under the direction of Yves Behar, Fuseproject successfully brought to life the dream of getting affordable and user-friendly laptops to school children in developing countries. From a design standpoint, the OLPC project is as remarkable as the social impact it is creating. The XO computer is simple, compact, and easy to use. As described on the OLPC website:

"The laptop was designed collaboratively by experts from both academia and industry, bringing to bear both extraordinary talent and many decades of collective field experience for every aspect of this nonprofit humanitarian project. The result is a unique harmony of form and function; a flexible, ultra-low-cost, power-efficient, responsive, and durable machine with which nations of the emerging world can leapfrog decades of development—immediately transforming the content and quality of their children's learning."

The XO laptop was carefully designed with the users in mind. From an innovated user-interface to incredible software the creators thought of everything. Even the minor details were considered - The "X" and the "O" on the top of the laptop come in 20 different colors each (enabling 400 different combinations) to allow children to differentiate and personalize their computers. From concept to execution, this project was a true collaborative effort and continues to be as it evolves. Not surprising, the collaborative effort that built the OLPC mirrors the very nature of the XO computer. The computers work together in a shared network teaching skills that go beyond the academics; Using the computers help to fuse relationships amongst students, leaders, teachers and volunteers. Proof that working together and spreading education can truly make for a better world. ••••


Sarah Martin said...

great post, meghan. inspirational.

Nicholas Negroponte said...

After we give them XO laptops, let's give them water, sanitation, and health care. Then, let's spawn a new market of low-cost notebooks for Westerners.

Sarah said...

Kudos for the innovation and design. But, why computers? Is that really what the top priority should be? I guess if people are willing to fund it but I feel like there could be better ways to allocate that money. Who knows though, maybe this will help spur other innovations to (more?) benefit those school children in need. And what about children in the US who are underfunded and undereducated?

thomas said...

Re: Why computers?

There are hundreds if not thousands of organizations devoted to bringing water, sanitation, and health care to 3rd world countries. The OLPC project decided to focus on education, working on (and I'm going to go ahead and use the buzzword here) empowering children in poverty-stricken countries and enabling them to become comfortable with technology. The idea being that bringing kids up to speed in computer usage will allow them to make a better world for themselves in the future.

The question of priorities is not a new one, but again, there are other groups attending to the other needs. I'm all for cultural pluralism, but I think that a kid should be allowed to choose between subsistence farming in the mountains and endless corporate drudgery (or endless CEO jet-setting).

Also, Mr. Negroponte (if it really is you): do you Google for blog posts on OLPC every day, or do you know someone here at Crew Design?