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Design Heroes: BabyBjorn

Founded by Björn Jakobson in the Sixties, BabyBjörn is synonymous with Swedish innovation and style, as seen in its winning high chair…

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Style, safety and ease of use are what encapsulates the BabyBjörn philosophy. It has certainly held the company in good stead, as this year it celebrates its 50th anniversary. Best known for its baby carrier, which revolutionised the way parents hold their babies, the company came to the high-chair market somewhat late, having determined to only produce something that was unlike anything else out there. It took eight long years from concept to completion, but finally, in the Appetite, BabyBjörn achieved its objective. Sophisticated to look at, here was a chair that could grace the most urbane setting, while being super safe, thanks to its fold-out adjustable table doubling as a security lock (thus negating the need for a harness). What’s more, it was easy to keep clean and simple to store. No wonder our judges gave it a resounding thumbs up. 

The man behind BabyBjörn, Björn Jakobson, was certainly in a celebratory mood when I met him and his wife Lillemor, in Stockholm, Sweden last month. Still at the helm of the family business, Björn’s enthusiasm in the brand he created has clearly not diminished over the years. “My desire has always been to make life easier for families with small children,” he says. “As such, we work very hard at developing safe and innovative products of the very highest quality.”

It was Björn’s experience babysitting for his nephew that kick-started the company. On a trip to the US, he found a baby bouncer seat, which he brought back for the boy, as such a product didn’t exist in Sweden. Seeing a gap in the market, he seized his chance, bringing on board eminent paediatricians to certify the credibility of the product in a collaboration that continues to this day. “Their medical expertise is crucial to us at the development stage,” says Björn. “In fact, we never launch anything without their approval.” The birth of Björn and Lillemor’s own children (three sons and a daughter), saw the company continue to evolve, with Björn developing the now world-renowned baby carrier. Already an accomplished artist, Lillemor joined the company as Designer-In-Chief, taking particular responsibility for colour and textiles, which have included limited-edition black or tan leather versions, and a fuchsia pink satin one. 

Now in their seventies, and proud grandparents of eight, the couple admit their children referred to BabyBjörn as the fifth child. “We would speak so much about BabyBjörn in front of them,” says Lillemor. But, as Björn testifies, family always comes first. “The most important thing in life is not to make money,” he says. “The most important thing is family, and spending time with them. It’s something I did when they were children, and it’s something we continue to do now they have grown up. Every year we take a long vacation together. ‘For the family’ has always been my motto, which is why it means such a lot to me that BabyBjörn is a family company” 

Appetite High Chair by BabyBjörn from £179.99.

For more see the Best High Chair Design Shortlist.

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