It is very unusual, even in our modern times, for a young woman to lead an industry design process. What does this position within a global brand mean to you?
I am very privileged to be in my current position; it is a fascinating place to be. To be able to shape and drive our creative team to deliver the next generation of products for the modern parent, who requires that product to be an extension of themselves, is truly rewarding. There are some incredible individuals within Mamas & Papas who through their passion and differentiated approach make every day unique and ensure we are constantly pushing the boundaries. It is truly an inspiring place to work and my aim is to continue to shape Mamas & Papas to become a key contender in the global market place, not just for parenthood, but for people that really value design.
Mamas & Papas is a female-led family dynasty, is that important to the brand and its customers?
When my mother founded Mamas & Papas she had no idea that it would become a global brand loved by celebrities and honoured with award after award. For her, all she wanted to do was to give to other mothers and fathers the kind of products she felt celebrated new life and made it a joyful experience, but also raised the level of comfort and safety. Having being born into the family business I have spent my life surrounded by her mantra to attempt to improve on everything and exceed expectation. When I joined the business after university I was the living and breathing embodiment of her vision to improve the lives of children and parents. It is therefore natural for me to look at something and know that I can improve upon it. As my younger sister joined the company she too had come to the brand with a unique vision and collectively, as a family and as a wider brand community, we are able to bring out a very unique approach to the world of parenthood.
Tell us about the design approach at Mamas and Papas?
Mamas & Papas in-house design capabilities and strength in technical creativity are very broad as we attract design talent from all over the world and, blended with an external agency who can approach our world with fresh insight, we’re able to deliver a vision of a new intelligent transport product. An intelligent approach to design is based on informed decision making and integrated disciplines. This combination of talents provided Mamas & Papas with a higher probability of successful delivering an innovative product. They provide Mamas & Papas with additional direction, creativity, robustness and route to delivery. Mylo is a strategically important, innovative product with a high level of complexity and is central to our global ambitions to be The Worlds Favourite Nursery Brand.
What was the process between the Mamas & Papas brand and DCA Design Agency?
Together we created a multi-discipline core project team. We aligned our thinking, developed the product and design strategy and developed a deep understanding of the end users agendas and value hierarchy while keeping them central to our design and development work. The project was structured to develop the concept through many rigs, prototypes and visuals of increasing resolution allowing a growing panel of users to feed into the decision making. Parenting is an incredibly emotive process so that look, feel and integrity of the pushchair had to meet the rigor of that expectation. A three year process for a pushchair seems to be indulgent to a bystander but as soon as that bystander becomes a parent then their perspective shifts and they begin to acknowledge the love, care and attention that the Mamas & Papas brand pours into every single detail of their experience.
What were your key objectives as the head of the design process to interpret a well-established design harking back from its Victorian era inception to aid a true re-invention for today?
For the parent our Agenda was ‘calm and simplicity’. We developed a system which offers an experience with simple interactions. We prioritised usability: engineering low force simpler user interactions.
A pushchair is a pushchair, what makes Mylo so different?
So many pushchairs prioritise convenience for the parent and start by designing a frame. Mamas and Papas and DCA started by shifting the balance from ‘parent first’ to ‘parent and baby equal’. This lead to placing the baby centre stage and designing from the seat, and cot, out rather than the frame in, giving the comfort of the baby priority. The seat was king. The Mylo is a 3 in 1 travel system that offers best in class baby comfort in each format from birth to approximately three years of age.
Mylo looks different and we expect the physical experience will be different also; can you talk us through that?
The visual design is the result of prioritising the seat, simplifying the frame and creating innovative production techniques to move away from the ubiquitous ‘mechano’ aesthetic. This crude format was a novelty in the beginning but is now over-used as a shorthand for cool but actually offers very little in terms of ease of use, which is a visual lie as it actually looks as if it should be easy to use. The aim was to produce a frame that communicated with the calm and effortless nature of the pushchairs functionality. This was achieved through a de-cluttering and visual ‘flow’ through the frame and the simple biomorphic form of the seat. The overall result is a unique new visual brand language offering style with integrity. The feel for the user is also very different. The seat unit is crafted more ergonomically and the ‘push’ feels very different from a conventional pushchair. It has been said that it feels like one’s first interaction with power steering in a car as it changes how you physically respond to the machine. The folding mechanism for storage is also very different from anything we have ever produced.