Bugaboo ist eine der führenden Marken, wenn es um innovative und funktionale Kinderwagen geht. Doch was macht eigentlich einen guten Kinderwagen aus? Worauf achten Männer und Frauen bei der Wahl des Kinderwagens und wie lange dauert der Designprozess? Bugaboo Creative Director Aernout Dijkstra-Hellingastand stand unseren Fragen Rede und Antwort. Zudem werfen wir einen Blick auf den neuen City-Stroller Bugaboo Bee 6.
Dear Aernout, what motivated you to work as a designer for Bugaboo?
We are a Dutch parental company that creates ingenious products to make the lives of parents and children easier and more fun. With our full range of strollers, and other parental products and accessories, we have products for every parents and parent to be to help them discover the world together, and enjoy. What makes us unique is our passion for innovation and commitment to using only the highest quality materials out there and we always try to come with something innovative, differentiating and offering as much added value and joy in the lives of parents and their children. And this attention to innovation, quality and beauty is of course something that is very appealing to me as a designer.
We also believe that we should create products while considering the people that produce and make them, and the environment. This attention to both the social and the environmental aspect is something that for me personally is very important. And I also like the fact that I can cycle to work.
As a designer for strollers, is it important to have children yourself or where does the practical experience come from?
As a designer, you are trained and used to think from other people’s point of view. Before bugaboo I have been designing bus stations, laptops and keyboards, tooth pickers, medical laser equipment, garbage bins, sound screens for highways, bridges and bike shelters. It’s almost impossible to have a lot of experience with all these things yourself. A professional designer will take a lot of time to understand the users of their products and/or services and that knowledge will improve the chances to come up with successful and relevant products.
However, on the other hand, having children yourself will give a better understanding of some of the problems however you should always keep in the back of your head that your own experience is not alike all the other young parents. When we were in the design process of the Bugaboo Donkey I had young kids myself and It was nice that I was able to do the test rides with my own kids but you always need to have a design solution that will work for everyone and not only for you.
With Ant and the city stroller Bee, you’re also targeting families who love to travel. What is so functional about the designs and why do you also focus on travelling?
Travelling for me is not only taking an airplane to the other side of the world. It can also be going around in your own neighborhood and rediscovering it together with your children. But I do realize that many people travel around a bit further then their own streets. And it’s very nice to see, feel and experience other cultures and surroundings.
Both with the Bugaboo Bee and the Bugaboo Ant, we offer very high-quality strollers that have all functionalities and comfort that you would want, but in a much smaller package. We always call the Bugaboo Bee our most comfort city stroller. It’s a size larger than the Bugaboo Ant but offers really nice driving comfort, a lot of luggage space, a very comfortable and ergonomic seat and the Bugaboo Bee can be used with a bassinet as well.
The Bugaboo Ant offers all the functionality parents and their child’s need for a comfortable and convenient stroll but in a really small and easy to manage package, which makes it ideal for traveling.
Thanks to this ultra-compact fold it fits easily in the trunk of your car and the Bugaboo Ant is always ready to roll because it is fitted with the best wheels. Whether is its uneven cobble stones or a sandy beach, everything is possible. We have the opinion that there is no need to sacrifice on functionalities, luggage space, driving behavior and comfort for you and your baby when travelling.
Strollers and in general baby equipment is strongly aimed at pregnant women and mothers. How do you think the role of the man has been integrated into this image over the years?
I do notice around me that dads are taking up their role in the development and raising of their children more and more. And that’s a good thing. So also when it comes down to using products for the baby and child, dads should realize that they will be spending a fair amount of time with these products. So you better make sure you are involved in testing and choosing!
Bugaboo strollers were always designed for both male and female users. We just want to create the most safe product with the highest quality, looking beautiful and performing intuitive. In the design part we regular have discussion on shapes and colours and I hope we still have the right balance to speak to both sexes.
Do you think is the difference between a man and a woman when buying a stroller?
I think the basic needs are the same for both man and woman. I can’t imagine both not being interested in a product that will last a long time, being used for multiple children, being totally reliable and safe in all conditions. Both would want a stroller that they find easy to operate, to drive and to fold, in which their children have a great time, right? And both would want to have a stroller with which they would feel proud to drive around, being the best and most beautiful product they can find.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs and for whom do you develop the Bugaboo strollers? Do you have a particular type of family in mind?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. Seeing people use your own products and talking to the consumers, store staff and retailers. But also visiting fairs, not only for strollers, but also furniture, fashion and car fairs. Reading books, magazines, blogs online etc. Also working with colleagues, other designers can be very inspiring. When it comes down to target groups, we sell all over the world, so it’s very difficult to only have one type of family in mind. Like I said before, I can imagine many people are interested in a beautiful designed, well-engineered product that will last almost forever.
We have gained a lot of knowledge about the different regions in the last couple of years. American consumers are very different from Asian consumers, both in taste as in behavior. We try to incorporate everything in our products and in the design phase we will always test if it works. If not, then we go back to the drawing board.
I imagine the work as a designer to be very diversified. How does a normal day look like in your life?
Absolutely right! As a lead designer within bugaboo you have to do many different things. And how a day looks really depends on in which development stage the product is. Sometimes I’m busy with observing people trying to figure our what are they doing with their children and how can I give a meaningful influence in that with our products. Or I’m doing a brainstorm with some colleagues about how to solve a specific feature. I could sit together with an engineer to see how to make a split line in the mold invisible in the part. I also usually work with interns and graduate students, they need coaching and guidance.
On a more abstract level, I sometimes have to think along how to enter a new category of product, thinking about the portfolio as a whole. I could be training and explaining colleagues about our current products: what’s there to tell and how to explain the functionalities best to retail or consumers. As a designer you are also involved in the promotional material to explain and sell our products. This could be thinking about how to visually explain certain unique features.
Next to that I’m also involved in how to make our products and company even more sustainable. Our products already last a long time, being very easy to repair and maintain, which means you can use less products in total. But what are the next steps in that?
What does Bugaboo do in terms of sustainability and where do you produce the strollers?
We and pride ourselves on the fact that we design products to last, built from high-quality materials, replaceable parts and easily repairable designs. The concept of „Designed to last“ has always been part of our DNA, ever since we started. It’s about creating value for our consumers and maintain value for the lifetime of the product itself. When it comes to operating as a responsible business and contributing to a better world, we choose to focus on three areas.
• We want our products to be used every day, yet last for generation – so we invest in high-quality materials and exhaustive product testing.
• By separating the hardware parts and fabrics, all our strollers can be easily serviced and repaired to extend their life cycle The Bugaboo Ant is even made with screws instead of rivets, making it easier for you to replace parts yourself.
• The outer lining of the dark navy is made from 50% recycled PET bottles. The premium mélange fabrics for the Bugaboo Ant are made from 50% recycled Pet bottles as well.
• We look into ways of extending the life cycle of our materials. We worked with Little Boomerang to repurpose our high—quality scrap material to make bags out of it and we’ve created shoppers for Sungiven food markets to reduce their usage of plastic bags.
• Because we have our own factory in Xiamen, we can control our standards and all aspects of production – upholding our safe, fair and humane working conditions. This includes our commitment to prevent modern slavery in our factory and supply chain.
• Both our factory and sub-suppliers subscribe to the Higg index facility modules, creating transparency and traceability in our supply base on social and environmental impact.
• Our rooftop garden on our factory allow us to reduce our energy usage in the factory – this provides a natural temperature reduction on the buildings’ top floor of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius, allowing us to turn off air-condition, whilst the vegetation consumes CO2 and soaks up rainwater, reducing stormwater surges.
• We also want to add value to our direct global communities. For example, in 209 we donated 235 strollers in the countries where we operate. Ranging from hospitals, women’s shelters, OS Children’s villages, refugee camps and orphanages.
From the prototype to the streets: how long does it take to produce a stroller?
That really depends on the amount of innovation we want from a product. If we want to update a current model we will research what can be improved and we will take the learning from current users. This will probably take 1.5 year. However if you want to create a complete new stroller with mind-blowing new functionalities, you need to start from scratch and this will take a bit longer; around 2-3 years.