Talking business with Bugaboo co-founder Max Barenbrug

We chat to the designer and co-founder of Bugaboo about work life, and his passion to help parents feel ‘free’

The Bugaboo story started in 1994, when you designed a stroller for your graduation. What made you go down the route of baby travel systems? 

Going back to when I was a student at Eindhoven, I actually remember that moment I got the idea for my graduation project. I looked out of the window and saw an unhappy-looking couple struggling with their stroller – that was my ‘Aha!’ moment.

Where did you start?

All the strollers I’d seen looked similar, with infantile colors and cumbersome white tyres – there was nothing desirable about them. I decided then that I wanted to turn my graduation project into a mission to help parents feel free, so I created an all-terrain stroller. It had to be tough, it had to be multifunctional, it had to be made for outdoor adventures. It had to be something that both men and women would love. I imagined all the different ways parents might want to use their stroller and created something that would allow them to live their lives. This very first stroller – my graduation project – is the blueprint for all the Bugaboo strollers we have made since.

You’ve collaborated with the likes of Marc Jacobs, Diesel, Van Gogh and Missoni, did you have a favourite partnership? 

We love collaborating with artists and other like-minded companies to make these special editions, as long as we stay true to the core of the brand. I personally prefer the simple designs. My two daughters grew up with the standard models.

The Bugaboo Chameleon remains a firm favourite
The Bugaboo Chameleon remains a firm favourite

What’s your role within the business these days?  

I come into our office in Amsterdam every day and work hand-in-hand with our team of designers and engineers on new design projects. I am also very involved in creating new sustainable business models.

All the products are named after animals, where did that idea stem from? 

The idea came in 2001, when we were working on the upgrade of our Bugaboo Classic. We were creating a new kind of suspension – a frog-leg-style suspension that made navigating obstacles easier. Then we realised that Bugaboo Frog was quite a nice name. When we created our third stroller, the Bugaboo Cameleon, it had all sorts of colour combinations, so again, the name fitted. And the tradition started…

Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Elton John are all reportedly fans, how does it feel to see so many A-listers choosing your products?

Celebrities are also parents, and we want all parents to have the best for their children. I personally want people to buy our pushchairs because they know they are getting good durability and quality for their money, and not necessarily because of who else pushes it.

What’s new for Bugaboo?

Our luggage system, the Bugaboo Boxer. People know us for our strollers, but Bugaboo has always been a mobility brand at heart. We’re about creating products that combine design, engineering, quality and style to help all kinds of people move freely, all over the world.