Junior Meets: The men behind stylish stroller brand Joolz

Joolz creative director Emile Kuenen and MD Stan Vermeulen discuss their new collection and why not having children has helped them to design the perfect pushchair

Junior Meets: The men behind stylish stroller brand Joolz

Joolz was created on the streets of Amsterdam in 2004 when founder Emile Kuenen saw parents struggling with strollers over the canal bridges and vowed to make the best pushchair possible. He named his flegding company Joolz, a twist on the word “jewels”, because he hoped the product would be equally precious to parents.

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Three years later, the first Joolz Day stroller was sold and the company is now a growing global brand, set to launch three new ranges. Offering extendable handles and foot rests, making it perfect for parents and children of all sizes, plus a cot big enough for overnight sleeping, their pushchairs are celebrated for being both chic and user-friendly. It’s why they have been rated as highly commended in our Junior Design Awards.

Junior meets…Emile Kuenen and Stan Vermeulen from Joolz

How do your ideas go from being a spark of inspiration to the pushchairs that we see today?

Emile Kuenen: It comes from experience. All the new products we are designing, things that we hear from users, from the market, from our own suggestions. All these things come together. We write down all these things and ask “What kind of stroller do we want? What target group are we designing for?”. Then we have meetings with the designers, with the future users, make up prototypes to test.

Stan VermeulenEmile Kuenen: It’s three years at least for a completely new product, to create a new chassis. For aesthetic updates, such as colours and fabrics, that is six to nine months.

Neither of you have children as yet. Does that make the job harder?

SV: It is an advantage in a way because we are unbiased. We listen more to people and that aids our creativity. We listen to what people really need, we can’t assume. It’s part of the Positive Design philosophy that Joolz has, thinking about the human body and the needs of parents and children.

Being male, did you place a strong emphasis on the needs of dads as well as mums when you created the Joolz Day stroller? It is very appealing to men.

EK: Yes, fathers are very important. I am very tall, so the things we design are to suit all heights – I don’t want to create something I won’t one day be able to use myself. In Holland, it’s important to create something that is adjustable for tall people and short people. It is the big challenge of the Dutch designer, that big range and variety, not just for strollers but for many things. Ergonomics is the most important things.

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The classic Joolz Day stroller.

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Joolz are launching the Day Studio Tailor, a customisable pushchair with 120 different colour options for parents.

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Lobster Red is a new addition to the Joolz Day Earth collection, which is inspired by the colours of nature.

You both talk about ergonomics a lot. Is that the key element of good design for you?

EK: Ergonomics is very important. You want everything to be very intuitive when it comes to using the product. Of course, we want it to look nice but not to the detriment of being well formed.

The new Studio Tailor range offers parents a huge choice of colour options for fabrics, handles and so forth. What combination would you pick for yourselves?

SV: For me, it is difficult to decide!

EK: What I am most proud of with this collection is that people can now choose their own thing. If they want pink, they can have pink and that makes them happy. For me personally, what I choose today, I may not choose next year. It could be grey now and blue then. You can suit your mood at the time.

What do you draw inspiration from? Are there any particular artists or companies?

EK: It can be anything, from walking down the street and seeing bicycles and cars, to clothes. Perhaps the line of a boat. I’m also inspired by Apple and what they do.

When you were children, what did you want to grow up to be?

SV: An astronaut! I wanted to jump on the moon and be weightless.

EK: I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. When I was at school, I was already selling things. My father was a toy importer and I used to sell some of his products to my friends when I was seven years old! I was the envy of my classmates.

Next year it will be a decade since you made the decision to try and invent the perfect pushchair and Joolz was born. How does it feel looking back on the last ten years?

EK: I could not have dreamed of something like this. You always have hopes, but we have been through some fairly tough times. Right now, the skies are blue, but we are going to keep on working and developing nice products.

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SV: There are many more chapters to come. We want to establish ourselves as a global brand.