Max Barenbrug is one of the personalities who demonstrate that it is still possible to generate innovation today by designing products for everyday life. And that an innovative idea can still lead to an entrepreneurial success story.
It all began in 1994, when Barenbrug took a degree at the Design Academy of Eindhoven, with a thesis that focused on his interest in mobility and in objects that facilitate movement. This vision then led to Bugaboo, the Dutch brand that has revolutionized the concept and the market for strollers.
A concept, more than a product, which Barenburg, now the chief design officer of Bugaboo, has continued to develop, in work that has now produced a new ‘invention’: the Bugaboo Boxer, namely a trolley with a mechanism that promises to also have an impact on the world of luggage.
When and how did the idea arise to design a new type of suitcase?
For us, it has never just been about strollers; it has always been about helping people move freely. In my travels, I have often seen people struggling with their luggage, so I thought there was a huge opportunity to bring our design philosophy into the world of travel and shake things up a bit. After a very successful few years of selling strollers, we decided to stretch the business by entering a new market based on the same brand values.
What is the most innovative feature of Bugaboo Boxer?
For me there are two: the power of push that turns the burden of carting around luggage into a smooth, effortless experience; and the modular system of interlocking cases that means you can carry all your bags on a single, easy-to-maneuver chassis.
What projects do you have in mind for the future?
We love designing products that make life on the road easier. We’re constantly looking around us, observing the world, and trying to pinpoint places where life can be improved – and become more fun. That’s how we started: we saw how parents struggled when they went out with their families. They were pushing around strollers that were not only impractical – but also ugly!
We decided to change that. We happened to start off with strollers, but Bugaboo has always been a mobility brand at heart. So, we’ve just launched a luggage system, and next, we’re looking at making something that will change the way people think about commuting to work.
Have you ever had ideas for, or an interest in, the world of the home?
From a design perspective I can appreciate all kinds of things. But not as chief design officer of Bugaboo. A Bugaboo product has mobility and exploration in its DNA, it is designed to be taken out into the world. What really excites me is design that changes the way you think about a certain object. Whether it’s an innovative production technique that makes a new kind of functionality possible, or a smart design that turns something complex into something incredibly simple – hat’s beautiful to me.
Text by Maddalena Padovani