Yves Behar: 'Great design is something that everyone can have'

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Even if you've never heard his name, chances are you've come across one of Yves Behar’s extraordinary designs. Maybe you've jammed on some tunes using the sleek-looking wireless speaker Jambox. That's one of Behar's designs which, by the way, was just nominated for 2012’s Designs of the Year Product Award. Or maybe you've take a spin on his “local bike”, designed says Behar, for a “new generation” of bicycle riders, who want to transport their kids and groceries near home. If not you must have seen photographs of children using the iconic green $100 XO laptop. The One Laptop per Child XO (OLPC) Laptop was founded by MIT Media Lab’s Nicholas Negroponte, who worked with Behar, and his San Francisco design firm Fuseproject to make a low-cost laptop specifically for children in developing countries. More than 2.4 million children in 25 countries received the XO Laptop. And now after six years of collaboration with Negroponte, Behar designed the next generation XO-3, the gorgeous laptop in tablet form.

Behar has taken design to a whole new level by devoting a good part of his business to the non-profit world. He says, "Design must tap into the giving element of our profession. It must be deeply in-tune with the needs to create a sustainable future, deeply connected with emotional needs, and deeply self-expressive.”

After dozens of profit-making ventures, Yves and his team devote 10 to 30% of their work every year, and countless hours of their own time, to pro- bono projects like the OLPC laptop. “There is no reason why design can’t be attainable. Great design is something that everyone can have,” says Behar. And after the success of the XO Laptop and tablet, Behar and Fuseproject collaborated with the Mexican Government to design low-cost eyeglasses for children. The “See Better to Learn Better” program provides poor children with free eye exams, and adorable, brightly-colored (and unbreakable) specs, delivered right to their schools. Hundreds of thousands of children are sporting these specs. The kids even get to pick their own frame and color combinations!!

Tune into The Next List on CNN 2 p.m. ET on Sunday to see the full 30-minute profile of design hero Yves Behar.

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