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Getting Your Kids Around Town in Style but with Function
 

Child Transportation Review: Getting Your Kids Around Town in Style but with Function (Not to mention with Shocks!)

29 Sep Child Transportation Review: Getting Your Kids Around Town in Style but with Function (Not to mention with Shocks!)

Amsterdam, Netherlands-

When considering purchasing a vehicle, we usually go through a few steps. We ask around which brands our friends have and if they like them. We research on the Internet, read car reviews, or go into a dealership. We price things out and then we take them for a spin. The same parallels can be made in regards to child transportation; specifically looking for the right stroller. For expectant parents, this can be an overwhelming topic- just like buying a car. There are a lot – and I mean a lot – of options out there. People want to make sure they are investing in the ease of maneuverability, style, function, and high quality parts so their strollers will not fail them now or down the line. But where do you start?!

It’s a subject that’s completely new to me despite having multiple friends with multiple children, but I wanted to get a broader perspective on how designers look at the mobility needs of those who aren’t quite mobile. Yet! Quietly tucked away in a business park not far from one of the Netherlands’s main arteries (the A2 highway) is the Bugaboo headquarters. The brand has been around for more than 20 years and continues to push the boundaries when it comes to design and innovation in regards to child mobility. Having the opportunity to sit down with Aernout Dijkstra-Hellinga, a Senior Product Developer and Sustainability Specialist at Bugaboo, was eye-opening and wildly informative. Like vehicles, these human-powered machines aren’t just four wheels strapped on a chassis that carries a child. They’re so much more.

Reading about the company, they mention that, “Innovation is at the heart of Bugaboo. Being a Dutch design company, we strive to keep things simple, stripping everything down to the bare essentials. Functionality is key. No matter how complex a product, the end result must always combine functionality with aesthetics and be intuitively understandable. We love to create products that are simply stunning, even if that takes years of development.” Years to develop a stroller? You bet. Aernout mentions that it takes anywhere between three to five years for a new product to come out. That’s from the initial concept to the sales floor. And if they’re planning on releasing a stroller but it’s not quite perfect, they’ll hold off until it is, and it doesn’t matter how much extra time that’ll take.

Though the design concept of their original stroller remains as a foundation in the lineup, they tweak things to make them modern and relevant. Think Porsche 911; the silhouette is still recognizable in today’s seventh generation in comparison to the original from 1964. “It takes a lot of time before we get to the sales, but then we can benefit for a very long time. That’s the way we work here. We try to come up with concepts and products that are way ahead of the competition.” One of the pillars of the company, Aernout talks about is, “Maneuverability. It is one of the key aspects and I think that’s one of the things to be the best in.” That means parents can operate their strollers, fully loaded, with one hand. “It’s all about ease of use and making it as functional but as easy to operate as possible, whether you have a lot of space in your car or home, or not.” Space is a big factor in what kind of stroller one buys. If you live in a condo, or if you have a compact vehicle, you don’t have the luxury unlimited storage. Just like a vehicle, you tailor it to your life needs.

Though there’s a different mindset between the North American and European customer, the principles of creating and designing are universal. It’s about comfort for the child and ease of use for the parent. Aernout points to the wheels of one of the five strollers Bugaboo offers in their lineup, the Cameleon. “It’s adjustable! So you can put it on smallest/softest suspension by just changing the angle of the spring. This will help give a smoother ride to the baby when it’s not so heavy. And when it gets heavier and heavier, you can adjust it and it becomes stiffer.” There’s really nothing to it. Just like in a high performance sports car, all it takes is the push of a button to change the dynamic of how stiff or soft you want the car to ride. The same comfort can be applied to your child. “It’s quite an easy solution.” But Aernout also mentions that the details aren’t just for the ladies. “I think, to generalize, it’s something that men really find attractive. All these details.” He compares them to talking about the specs of a vehicle and how the features and functionality makes it a mechanical marvel. But the quest for improvement doesn’t stop with their current model lineup. Bugaboo is always looking for ways to up the ante with the quality of their wheels and materials. “We are still learning, and that’s cool after so many years.”

Aernout also talks about the adaptability of the products. “I think the idea of having a chassis that you can put in different positions for different uses is quite unique and was the basic idea of the Bugaboo.” He explains that they try to be able to adjust the stroller to different situations. For example the basinet can turn into a seat. Because the walls are fabric, you can collapse them so after the first few months, you don’t need to buy another piece to your stroller. The ability to remove parts for easy storage, or even the reversible handle let’s you see you baby or let’s your baby see the world! Furthermore, if you’re a runner like me, and you already have the seat for a Bugaboo model, that seat – with the conversion clips –can be popped it onto the designated jogging chassis called the “Bugaboo Runner”, saving you from buying a whole new stroller with an additional seat. It’s about creating easy solutions without having to waste anything. And that’s a long-term goal of Bugaboo.

When asked what Aernout would like to see in future products, he says, “Having a stroller that lasts for more than 10 years that you can upgrade easily. Almost an endless Bugaboo.” He adds, “I think that will certainly help to cut down the environmental impact that new products have. Or also even a stroller that you can just throw away without harming the environment.” Part of the fun of working at such an innovative and future-forward company is the ability to work with great partners. For example, it’s no surprise that auto makers pair up with fashion houses to great special editions: think Fiat and Gucci!

Bugaboo paired up with mega denim/fashion brand Diesel to create special edition strollers; strollers that not only look great, but have unique fabrics, accents and colours. You know, to spice things up. Though the sky is the limit for this Dutch company. They even just release their first luggage system called the Bugaboo Boxer. Aernout comments, “We are getting more into our vision of becoming a mobility company rather than just a stroller project.” He concludes, “It’s very special being able to work on products that people are really happy about. I’m proud to be able to contribute to that.”

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For those looking for some expert buying tips, Aernout offers some insight into the process!

Questions to ask Yourself:

What are you going to use the stroller for?
Are you using it as a “second car” to go shopping?
Are you someone who walks a lot in nature?
Consider where you live. Where do you store it?
Do you have an elevator or not?

“The other thing I would really consider: do you think that the brand that you consider offers quality? Will it last two children?”

Think about service, can I repair it? Do I see a lot of older strollers of that brand walking around?

“And I think it’s very emotional decision. Do you like the colour or the design or fabrics? How is the quality?”

Do you feel confident behind it? We love it because we love all the functions…

It’s an extension of who you are; you’re going to have this vehicle for a while so be proud to stand behind it!

Try it!

“Some people understand the product immediately some don’t. Walk around the store with weight in it. Don’t be afraid to touch the product and try it out.”

Like with cars, you want to test drive it before you buy it!

I think what is important to realize is that all the strollers have some positive and negative points. Really consider your own situation.

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