Yves Béhar, the storied tech entrepreneur and founder of San Francisco–based design firm Fuseproject, is set to release a new model for a fully-customizable prefabricated housing unit aimed at alleviating California’s housing crisis. According to designboom, his latest design venture, a collaboration with Los Angeles–based LivingHomes and their Plant Prefab studio, will revolutionize small living for low-density cities. Launching tomorrow, the LivingHomes YB1 model was designed as a response to the state’s recent decision to loosen restrictions on building accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Over the past year, homeowner applications for backyard homes have rapidly increased due to the new law. Béhar and his team have developed a ready-made house that can be bought at a reduced price and built on-site in under two months. Per the firm’s website, YB1 homes will range in size from 250 to 1,250 square feet and are easily customizable according to the client’s goals. Each home is built on a 4-foot grid allowing homeowners to reconfigure structural elements such as the roofline, the size and location of its windows, as well as the layout of the interior and the cladding material. The appliances, HVAC system, and all utilities will come pre-installed. Individual models can also be specified to fit the location and climate where they’re built; clients can select sustainable products and integrate smart home capabilities into their units to save energy. Right now, YB1 costs $280,000 total and takes 6-8 weeks to order, plan, and fully install. Béhar plans to launch a future line of “sub-$100,000 homes” through LivingHomes. Fuseproject describes the project as Behár’s attempt to “think systematically about buildings, rather than as a one-size fits all solution.” LivingHome YB1 is Béhar’s first project involving housing and arguably the largest-in-scale that he’s ever backed. While he's served as a staple of Silicon Valley, has garnered major commissions, and helped pave the way for tech giants today, Béhar’s projects haven’t always been universally well-received recently and his latest products have been faulted for their lack of usefulness. The designer's recent ventures include highly-criticized and controversial products like Edyn, a digital garden sensor, Juicero, a $700 juicing machine, as well as Samsung’s Frame TV, which displays digital art for a hefty price tag. With YB1, Behar stands to make a difference in the housing market.
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The once-prosaic thermostat has become a high profile design object as of late. As a critical gateway for the "Internet of Things" and the world of the connected home, it's increasingly seen as an HVAC status symbol. With his new scheme for the Hive for British Gas, Yves Béhar takes a step back from the fray and focuses on the unit's ease of use. Compared to the first learning thermostat, Nest, and its smart-home spawn, Hive takes a low-key approach to aesthetics—but does so via some fairly fancy interface technology. Until it is touched, the face of the unit remains a blank, mirror-like surface. Changeable frames for the Hive (above) work to bring the user into the experience and put them in control of the device—not vice versa. Nest's hardware and interface are resolutely minimalist—indisputably a factor in its success in the marketplace (it's estimated that 10,000 units are sold every day)—but graphically, it's more heavy-handed and generic. The Ecobee3 wi-fi thermostat features remote mini-monitors that track the temperature in more than one room of the house. Occupancy sensors help save energy and reduce operating costs. The device's rounded corners and a cutesy insect icon convey an emphasis less on science and more on everyday accessibility. From the originator of the original Round thermostat (which was designed by Henry Dreyfuss), the Lyric has geofencing capability, which enables the device to adjust automatically, based on the location of the user's smartphone. By inverting the dome profile of Dreyfuss' 1953 icon, the design pays homage to a classic while supporting today's technology.