Few brands are as cheerful and undeniably positive as Fatboy. Design Stories met with the brand's Creative Director Pauline Barendregt to talk about Fatboy's colorful essence, her favorite projects and one of the most surprising design collaborations of the year.
IN 2020, MOST OF US HAVE BEEN SPENDING an unprecedented amount of time at home. Everyday products that make us smile in clever, unexpected ways are contributing to our emotional well-being more than ever, and the Dutch brand Fatboy is definitely the king of such fun yet practical design. Creative Director Pauline Barendregt is responsible for the brand's vision, so we couldn't think of anyone better to give us some insight on Fatboy's latest news and plans for the future.
Hi, Pauline! What does a Creative Director do at Fatboy?
“Fatboy is a brand with so much potential that it inspires me for a lot of new initiatives. I set and guard Fatboy's DNA and translate it into everything we do, be it product design, visual communication or storytelling. On a daily basis, it means I am in meetings with our product development team about our new innovations, where I take big and small decisions on shapes, materials, fabrics, colors, finishes, and so on.
Besides in-house designers, Fatboy works also with external designers so I am always in contact with the ones that fit the Fatboy DNA. I am in close contact with photographers to discuss how to visualize the Fatboy world, and I am working with our creative team on all visual communication and storytelling. For me, the big picture and strategy have to be clear but the devil is in the details.”
Which have been the highlights of your career at Fatboy so far?
“In summer 2020, we launched new innovations that were really well received. The garden furniture series Toni is based on a classic bistro set with a modern twist, and another one is the outdoor modular couch called Paletti. We worked really hard on these big projects and I am so proud of the result!
I also have to mention our indoor product photography for autumn 2020. We created a Fatboy indoor world in the houses of creative personalities showcasing our indoor product range, new innovations and existing collection in a very personal and inspirational way.”
We heard there’s a new exciting product launch coming up this autumn. Could you tell us more about that?
“Yes! It’s the collaboration with Carole Baijings where we redefined our favorite, the Original bean bag. When I started at Fatboy, I immediately thought of Carole. Fatboy stands for colorful, bold design and she has such a beautiful taste in color. Her work is very colorful but refined and never vulgar. The design philosophy of Fatboy is close to Carole's point of view on design, so it was a good match.
When I reached out to her we discussed developing an Original that she and I would like to have in our living room. We have known each other for over 20 years but had never worked together before. Developing the perfect fabric and finish was such a pleasure.
The result is the Pop of Colour collection. And yes, we both would definitely like to have an Original Pop in our living rooms so we reached the goal. Actually, it will be hard to choose from the six different color compositions! I am happy we also have a Pop Pillow collection in the same color options because they are beautiful when mixed together.”
Do you have any dream collaborations that would be a good fit for Fatboy?
“If I am allowed to dream – I admire Jonathan Ive. He was the Chief Design Officer of Apple. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times and he is not only a revolutionary designer but also a very kind person. It would be an honor to work with him one day.”
“Fatboy is a brand that is supporting the good life close to home in a way that makes you smile.”
The world has changed a lot in 2020. What changes have you seen in the products that people are choosing for their home?
“In these insecure times, we see that people appreciate more what they have. An increasing amount of time is spent indoors and gardens at home and everyone would like to make them comfortable, safe havens. Fatboy is a brand that is supporting the good life close to home in a way that makes you smile. We are grateful that a lot of customers have found our brand in these heavy times.”
What are your favorite Fatboy products?
“It is difficult to choose! In my garden, it is the Paletti couch: fun, so comfortable and chic at the same time. In my living room, my favorite is the new Original Pop we created together with Carole Baijings.”
What does your own home look like?
“I live with my husband and kids in a classic canal house in the center of Amsterdam. I am a collector so my house is a treasure box of vintage design, modern design, art, and crazy curiosities.”
What do you do when you are not working?
“I love to be in my little house on the beach in Wijk aan Zee. Staring at the North Sea and the clouds is ultimately relaxing to me and a source of inspiration at the same time. I always have my best ideas at my little beach house and under the shower!”
Fatboy is a brand that is constantly evolving. Where do you see it in five years?
“We will definitely continue our sustainability strategy, so our goal is to have taken substantial steps in reducing our ecological footprint. I also hope that our new products have become proven design classics. The Fatboy brand has so much potential, and I hope that by this time we will have fulfilled a lot of this promise and shown many new, unconventional design initiatives.
In five years, we will have a strong range of innovative outdoor products, inspiring designer collaborations, and a strong indoor design portfolio. And I hope that we had a lot of fun while working on these projects and that we have reached the hearts of many customers with them!”
“Fatboy is a positive brand that looks at things with an unexpected point of view.”
Finally, what is the essence of Fatboy?
“Fatboy is a positive brand that looks at things with an unexpected point of view and inspires people to live a good life. Besides quality and durability, we also stand for bold, unconventional and iconic design. Our products look sometimes simple but have a lot of hidden ingenuity that you experience once you own and use them. Fatboy adds a smile to life.”
• The Fatboy Original bean bag chair was created by Finnish designer Jukka Setälä in 1998.
• The Dutch brand Fatboy was founded by Alex Bergman in 2002.
• Specializes in indoor and outdoor furniture, lighting and home accessories.
• Today, Fatboy products are sold in over 50 countries and every continent.
Text: Irene de Mas Castanyer Images: Inga Powilleit and Fatboy