Designer Yves Béhar’s studio Fuseproject has created a digital division, Fusedigital, after acquiring the Lisbon digital agency Mindshaker.
The acquisition will allow the San Francisco-based multidisciplinary studio to expand in Europe and focus more on digital experiences, Béhar said.
“It’s a really great additional skill that we’re building,” he told Dezeen.
“Fifty percent of our work has been taking place in Europe for many years,” he added. “We see a lot more developments, we have a lot of customers there and everyone is happy that we have a larger office in Europe.”
The Fusedigital division will expand the technical side of Fuseproject’s capabilities and become an anchor point for the company to add more team members in Europe while creating a “great cultural parallel” with California, the designer said.
Fusedigital works on cultural and mobility initiatives
Fuseproject had partnered with Mindshaker on a number of projects in the months leading up to the acquisition and is currently working on a cultural initiative as well as mobility and transport projects under the new digital umbrella.
“[The acquisition] It definitely gives us new opportunities,” said Béhar. “We’ve worked with internal teams or very often with external agencies, and it’s worked great.”
“But having some of it under our own wings gives us more legitimacy to work on these projects to completion,” he added.
“It creates a longer relationship because you take care of the entire execution side and the refinement part, and it allows our teams to go back and forth.”
No “separation between the physical and the digital”
Béhar, who has designed a number of projects that combine the digital and the physical, said there is “no real separation between the physical and the digital”.
“For a lot of these, you don’t need to know when one starts and the other,” he added. “In some projects that we do, the technology is very much in the background and sometimes more in the foreground.”
“For me, the physical and the digital are just a continuum in design; they’re really part of the practice of creating those unique experiences,” he continued.
Expansion in Europe could also help the studio move forward in areas it is currently exploring.
“We started working in robotics and AI two or three years ago and worked with great teams on things like the Moxie robot, which was designed for children’s education and for children on the spectrum,” Béhar said.
“I think the intelligence that some of these educational or health and healthcare projects have is really critical to delivering the care that we want,” he added.
“These are very interesting projects and in a way I feel like Europe is ahead of some of these opportunities to improve care with its social medicine and approach to social healthcare. So we see some more possibilities in AI robotics.”
The studio chose to acquire Mindshaker because of its “technology expertise, connections to the growing European community of designers and commitment to mission-driven values,” said Fuseproject.
As a result of the takeover, Fuseproject grows from 45 to 60 employees.
Previous Fuseproject designs with a digital aspect include a bionic leg wrap that uses AI to correct walking patterns and a cube-shaped indoor surveillance camera.
Images are courtesy of Fuseproject.