September 13, 2004

In The Beginning was the Bugaboo

While Bugaboo the Company launched in 1999, and Bugaboo the Frog only made it to the US in late 2001, Bugaboo the Concept began over ten years ago.

With some help from Bugaboo US' marketing department, Daddy Types put together a brief illustrated history of the evolution of the Dutch stroller that launched a thousand...whatever, it's a cool, expensive, well-designed stroller.

It all started in 1994 when...

little Max Barenbrug was working on his graduate 'mobility' project at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, where he followed in the footsteps of contemporary Dutch design stars like Marcel Wanders and his Droog collaborators. [To get an idea of the reigning ethic, the Academy's site notes that, after functionality, "the main characteristic of Dutch design is generally its restraint and austerity."

Anyway, the resulting study was a versatile rethinking of the stroller which shows several design features--the basic X-shape, off-road tires, the wheelbarrow conversion (which is so unique, I've never seen or heard of anyone ever doing it outside the Bugaboo demonstration video; maybe it's a Dutch thing.)--that carried through to the commercial version. It won some award, and Max presumably became famous and envied among his graduate student peers.

Max teamed up with his brother-in-law, Eduard Zanen, MD, to develop the rig into a product, which the pair introduced at the 1997 Cologne Design Fair. This prototype showed marked ergonomic improvements for the seat, which was still low, an integral part of the overall X-structure.

With the introduction of the Classic (the black model at the top of the page) in 1999, the design evolved to incorporate safety features that raised the seat up above the crossbars. And besides the addition of a bassinet, the only significant changes so far have been aesthetic and brand-related (i.e., colors, new logo, new model name, accessories).

A used Classic now sells for 325-400 on Dutch sites like marktplaza.nl. No word on the availability of the prototypes. Tempted? Check out the Bugaboo Frog at babystyle.com. [If everyone in China just buys one Bugaboo, they'll be the biggest corporation in the world.]

Thanks to Kari and the Bugaboo US office for digging up these images.

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