Style by Barber
Barber Ebbinge is the Styling Director at Bugaboo's Innovation department. Together with her team, she is responsible for how Bugaboo products look and feel, making sure all products are remarkably beautiful and functional. What she loves about design at Bugaboo is that "we are colorful and free-spirited, we want to put a smile on the face of our consumers, and we are pioneers at heart, trying to find better solutions and new ways." In Barber's own words, "We want to take the road less traveled. Therefore, the inspiration never stops."
How did you get into designing our products?
I started working at Bugaboo 18 years ago, there were only like 12 people working here. Madeleen who was our former CMO invited me to work as a Brand Manager, so we could start thinking about doing collaborations. One of the first projects I’ve ever worked on was about changing the materials on some products. I think I can say it all started off with the first Denim. Right after that, we did our very first collaboration with Bas Kosters, the first big collaboration. I’d say it all worked quite organically.
In the beginning we only had 5 colors in the market and we saw more and more people in the Netherlands buying our strollers. And we thought: it would be so cool if people could differentiate. Back then, there was no other design stroller available in the market. It was never a match of design or fashion and then in connection with the strollers. In that sense I think we were true pioneers in doing that and thinking about it very differently, transforming a stroller’s design into a fashion statement, or even a personal style statement.
It’s a different angle of looking at it. Back then, there were a lot of light blue or light pink products in the market, for example. Then we came up with a different approach to design strollers. And yes, one could say there’s always this preference for more ‘clean’ aesthetics, but then there’s always an element of surprise in it, something people don’t really expect in a stroller.
I’ve always been passionate about fashion, art and design, and to combine this all in my job, that is truly wonderful.
And can you tell us more about your role within Bugaboo?
I work as the Styling Director at Bugaboo’s innovation department. The Styling Team is responsible for the look and feel of the Bugaboo products. Our products are both delightfully functional and full of style.
We believe when people feel like they are ready to start a family, they want to experience everything the world has to offer with their child, and we know people want to feel confident they are as ready as they can be, to take on the new challenges, but still enjoy life! We also believe that having a child doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style. We are a creative and idealistic team, but we are realistic about the twists and turns of being a parent, and what our products need. Creating products that can last for multiple kids, with the utmost quality materials, always with durability, sustainability and style in mind – this has always been our main focus.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, I get inspired by fashion, art, design, but also while I am traveling. Things like beautiful architecture, colors, and fabrics on the local markets and the people on the streets, I always take pictures of things that I love and use these for creative concepts later.
Our design process begins with research and experimentation – looking at trends, trying new things, thinking differently, and pushing the limits of our knowledge. We consider all possibilities, but eventually are very selective, finding the best combination of fabrics, hardware, patterns, and sewing techniques. It’s all about being inventive and creative – and going for the unexpected.
During the search for inspiration, we consider what parents worldwide are interested in, but also how we can inspire them with our products, so together we can discover. After all, the stroller is an extension of the person who drives it, so people choose something that fits their personality best. What I love about our brand is that we are colorful and free-spirited, we want to put a smile on the face of our consumers, and we are pioneers at heart, trying to find better solutions and new ways. We want to take the road less traveled. Therefore, the inspiration never stops.
Bugaboo’s first design collaboration with Dutch artist and designer Bas Kosters was done by you…how did it happen?
In 2005, everywhere in the Netherlands you saw Bugaboo strollers rolling along the streets. They were becoming a common sight and we thought we needed to do something for the people who really wanted to differentiate. We decided to open ourselves up to new ideas and influences from outside of Bugaboo – to give parents something completely new and unexpected.
Because we were also like “the new kid on the block,” we thought a new and upcoming artist would be the best fit. There were a lot of amazing options, but the work from Bas really stood out, there was an immediate connection. His designs were so attractive and made us happy straight away: we immediately knew that Bas Kosters would be our first designer to work with.
With this first collaboration, there was also an excellent opportunity for us to try something new, not only with fabrics but also with the hardware materials. For us, it was a big learning curve. The first Bas Kosters collaboration took us nearly two years to develop. We made a completely white frame, white plastics, everything. By that time, our machines were only set to make black pieces of hardware. It took us a while to fine-tune the colors and get it right, get it to look exactly like we had envisioned it.
To make it happen, we had to push it to the next level, going back to the core of a Bugaboo: form and function fully integrated. Treating the original product design of the Bugaboo stroller as a blank canvas, to help take the stroller into a new territory where we explored and where we could get inspired. In a sense our strollers became a traveling medium for creative statements.
This was the beginning of a journey that would bring us together with some of the world’s most exciting designers and cement our reputation as a company that dares to do things a little differently because we were the first company to take the stroller out of the playground and onto the catwalk.
In 2019, we did our second collaboration with Bas Kosters
You have also done other amazing collaborations.... can you tell us more about them?
Over the years, we’ve teamed up with some of our favorite designers, fashion houses, and artists to create products that are unique and simply stunning. Since our first collaboration with Bas Kosters, we worked together with artists like Andy Warhol and Vincent van Gogh and fashion houses like Missoni, Viktor & Rolf, and Diesel, amongst others.
We are keen to collaborate with lesser-known designers and also with the more established names.
Our latest limited edition with fine-art photographer Gray Malin is a great example. He is known for his unique aerial images of the world’s most stunning beaches like Bondi Beach in Australia. The colorful summer print on our breezy sun canopy combines the spirit of travel, adventure, and art, which is a perfect match with Bugaboo.
We heard your inspiration behind the Mineral Collection is all about ‘wabi-sabi’, can you explain a bit more about this?
I was inspired by the Japanese ‘wabi-sabi’ philosophy, which means a great love for nature and its processes and embracing the beauty of imperfection. “Wabi” is said to be defined as “rustic simplicity” or “understated elegance” with a focus on a less-is-more mentality. “Sabi” is translated to “taking pleasure in the imperfect.”
For the Mineral Collection, we have chosen fabrics with different structures and a palette of neutral colors. Tranquility, harmony, and beauty. The Mineral Collection creates the idea of gentle motions that can make you relax, slow down, take a step back from the hectic modern world. It’s about finding joy and gratitude in everything you do.
One final question, the one everyone wants to know about... What’s in the making? Anything you can share about what you and your team are currently working on?
We are continuously working on creating innovative concepts, where we can offer new color styles and new materials to bring diversity to our product portfolio. We want to keep bringing the best styling concepts to our consumers.
We're always doing a lot of research; we want to listen to parents and parents to be; what are their needs & expectations and we try to surprise them with new styles. We are creating products for the whole world, and we make our products locally relevant as well – sometimes we collaborate with local artists which makes it even more exciting.
I think our motto is daring to be different and finding the unexpected.