Max Barenbrug, designer & co-founder of Bugaboo

In 1994 Max Barenbrug graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven with double honors in two subjects: mobility (for his double Dutch city bike) and leisure (for his Bugaboo stroller).

Eduard Zanen, an entrepreneur, became involved and in 1996 Eduard did the first investment in the Bugaboo stroller. At that time Max and Eduard set up Bugaboo as a company. In 1999 the first Bugaboo – the Bugaboo Classic – appeared on the streets of Holland. In 2001 the Bugaboo Frog was launched in the United Kingdom and in 2003 in the United States. 2004 was the year where the Limited Edition Bugaboo By Bas Kosters was introduced. In 2005 Bugaboo launched the Bugaboo Gecko and the Bugaboo Cameleon. In 2007 the Bugaboo Bee was added to the product family. In 2010 Bugaboo collaborated with the cosmetics brand uslu airlines to create a nail polish and a pushairs matching each other colors: denim blue. In 2011 will see the launch of the Bugaboo Donkey, a transformable push-chair that converts from a single seater to a two seater in 3 clicks. wikipedia

1. On the companies website you can design your own bugaboo, will you develop this way of making the costumer a part of the process? I believe what you are referring to is the configurator. With the configurator people can choose which Bugaboo best fits their needs. We really like for consumers to understand our products, to get to know them.

2. Bugaboo collaborated with designers, such as Marc Jacobs, is there another collaboration in progress, or do you have a secret wish with who you would like to work? We recently launched our latest collaboration with the fashion design duo Viktor&Rolf. We of course have a secret wish, but it wouldn’t be a secret if we told you!

3. On which process do you want to focus on in the future? My focus is on future innovation. At the moment we are working on what we call a new platform. A platform that is different from strollers, which we look to introduce in the next years. And I’m already working on a third new platform.

4. Where do you get inspiration, or do you create you own inspiration?
Actually I feel that inspiration distracts. If you let yourself get inspired by your surroundings this often leads to things that already exist. The moment you really create something new doesn’t have anything to do with inspiration. It sort of comes at you like a sudden bolt of lightning. Then it all starts to make sense. And quite frankly, apart from this, creativity is mostly hard work.

5. Besides the design-guideline form follows function, what is your personal design-guideline? My personal design guideline is that with good design form and function needs to be integrated. Although the esthetic appearance is leading, without the substance of functional qualities a design will be insufficiently differential. Form and function always compete with each other, they trigger, tease one another. It is important that a product is functional but if it’s ugly it won’t do. You can then solve this by making it more appealing in looks. But what ultimately matters most is the holistic user experience, how people experience the total product. By integrating form and function you create an iconic and intuitive design.

6. How do you feel about the big amount of bugaboos, which are sold on e bay? That makes me very happy. First of all, a Bugaboo is apparently durable and that is extremely important. It lasts a long time and therefore represents value for money. And secondly, it reaches people that might otherwise not be able to afford a Bugaboo. Our aim is to be exclusive without exclusion. I don’t believe that a second-hand market hurts the business and there are no signs telling me the opposite!

7. What makes the bugaboo not a trend but a design-classic? That relates to your former question on my design guideline. When you bring form back to its essence, it makes a product intuitive in its use. And it will lead to a simple, clear semantic image where form actually communicates the product’s functionality. At Bugaboo, we always strive to bring complexity back to its simplest form. You can call it ‘Simplexity’. I read this word the other day and thought it explained this idea spot on. In fact I wish I’d invented it!

8. Are your bugaboos bought more by men than other comparable strollers? I read it was your idea for your diploma to design a stroller, which attracts men. It’s not so much that our strollers are bought more often by men. But I do think that our designs have helped to include men in the buying process. Where in the olden days men were smoking outside and women were looking for pink coloured strollers…, Bugaboo did change that. And because of that, we changed the industry. Men join women now in the buying process.

9. If Max Barenbrug has a new vision, what is the first thing he does? Write it down, sketch it or talk to others? None of the above actually. It just stays in my head and in my head I’ll make the puzzle work. Then once I’ve made it work I’ll start drawing. But the danger with drawing is that it literally limits an idea to a physical piece of paper. My thoughts are more conceptual, I think about the consumer and what it’s offering him or her. I’ll ask myself ‘wouldn’t it be great if … so that….’. This comes before any actual design takes place. I identify a latent need, a problem if you like. Then I start thinking about how to solve this. This can sometimes take years! You need time for things to sink in, for the coin to drop. When we finally get to the design phase, the designer needs to be in the service of the concept and stay as close to the concept/consumer offering as possible. And keep it simple. That is very, very difficult. Let alone, time consuming. You need to take your time for things to come together because when you do this really well, it works.

10. Do you prefer to work alone or in a team and why? If I work on the initial concept, on the consumer offering I do this alone, in my head. After that, because I can’t really work with 3D software, I work with others. But I tend to work with as small a team as possible. But honestly, I prefer to work alone.

11. Can you find more design-items in your household as on average? I guess so. But I tend to focus on design that has proven itself over time, such as furniture from the 50ies, a lamp that is not contemporary but unique. Designs that have survived the test of time. With some designs I start off not liking them and then I learn to appreciate the intrinsic qualities of the design. If a product has gone through a thorough design process, it is almost always different from what is out there. As a designer you sometimes find this difficult, but it’ll come back to you. It stays and become a beautiful, timeless design. That often happens when designers have worked on a design driven by their own creativity, and not because they have been influenced by their surroundings. A lot of design I find too superficial. But good design like Iittala aluminum pans, my Plycraft chair (its leg, beautifully simple), Georg Mullhauser, Ottoman. And the Mercedes 300 SL, that car is so unique, so beautiful. And why? It’s got a space frame, great performance, a light engine, but fast speed. Nobody had asked for it, but when it was produced it showed that there was a need. A design like that still works after 100 years.

12. Tell us an unexpected fact about you. We’re all unique.

13. Do you read design-blogs? Would you tell us your favorite one and why you would recommend it? No.

14. What do you like about Designspotter? Do you miss anything? I miss design classics, I miss old design.

Thank you max for this interview. ( by Stephanie Krauch )

Bugaboo Link

Bugaboo Video Link

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