A work of design is the result of hundreds of restarts and do-overs. At Deco Bébé, its Founder, Rong Jianbo has instituted the world’s strictest quality standards for the childcare product industry. He demands that his team attend to every single product as if it were a work of art.
“When I was studying abroad, my classmates from other countries would talk about brands from their own countries,” says Rong. “That made me think, most of the world’s products are made in China, but China’s brands are all languishing in obscurity. I asked myself, if we are the factory of the world, which means China has no problem with manufacturing capabilities, what is it that we don’t have?”
This question puzzled him, until one day in 2014 he left his job at the R&D center of a well-known international car brand, to found his own company.
“I realized, we don’t understand the market, so we focus all of our effort in manufacturing plants,” says Rong. “We rely on the brands to tell our plants what designs the market needs.”
Based on this insight, he founded Deco Bébé with the aim of providing modern parents with useful childcare products with sound scientific backing.
“Every single one of our product designs is based on professional expertise, contributed by pediatricians, and the needs of mothers, gathered from extensive market research,” says Rong. “Design only begins on a product after after our marketing and design teams have made sure that the product is necessary and feasible. If you haven’t really looked into the market, you might not even imagine that some families in China would buy 50 different cups, just to keep their kids excited about drinking water every day.”
Talking about differences between the huaren market and other markets, he gives an example on differences in ideas about childrearing.
“When Chinese people bathe their children, they always do it in the bathroom with the heater on,” says Rong. “They’re concerned about their children catching colds, and they don’t mind the strain of squatting down because they don’t want their child hovering too far above the ground, in case there is an accident. In the West, people are much less careful about their children. They would buy tubs with no legs, set them up on surfaces at standing height, and bathe their children in the bedroom. Neither approach is better than the other. They just have different needs because of their differences in traditions and cultures. So it becomes particularly important for us to understand huaren culture and design products that fit into huaren lifestyles.”
When Deco Bébé was designing their water circulation bathtub, they conducted face-to-face conversations with many huaren families before settling on the product’s basic specifications. They decided to reduce the product’s width to allow the tub to more easily fit into small apartments, common in huaren cities. They used a double layer of material for the tub’s sides and bottom, both to prevent the water from cooling too fast, and to allow a more elegant appearance, which fits with the huaren market’s trend toward higher-end products.
The addition of a thermometer is to emphasize a scientific approach to child care, allowing users to monitor the water temperature more easily and accurately, instead of relying on subjective feel. The drainage system is designed to allow dirt and scum to drain from the sides when the shower is turned on. The two-tub design ensures access to clean water; the water in the smaller tub will remain clean, available for washing the head and the face. The seating is designed using TPE material, inconsideration of the softer spine of newborns.
“These would probably not be design considerations in other markets, because they don’t think of babies as delicate,” says Rong. “They think of babies as full of life. The difference in thinking leads to the differences in design.”
Another example is in Deco Bébé’s design of a dining set for children.
“Because the Asian diet is different from the Western diet, we reduced the size of the dish and emphasized the bowl,” says Rong. “We also considered that younger children are still developing their fine motor skills, so we increased the size of the bowl and the little mound at the center of it. This makes it easier for a toddler to eat by themselves. As for the fork and spoon, we deliberately reduced their width because Asian babies usually have smaller mouths. This makes the utensils more comfortable for children.”
Regarding huaren design styles, Rong says, “Designs across the world are growing more and more alike, and so are styles. Each market will have a style inspired by what’s unique about their people, but people across the world share the enthusiasm and pursuit of good things, like high-quality products and aesthetics. At Deco Bébé, we want our designs to have an international feel. This also matches our brand positioning. We don’t want different treatment for different places, or an overemphasis on our identity as a huaren design brand. When we develop our products, we want them to reach both Chinese standards and Western standards. It’s the same with our design; we want our products to be understood and accepted by the entire world. We also hope that Deco Bébé’s designs can help children develop their artistic taste, so that we can become a Chinese brand that people are proud of.”
About Rong Jianbo
Rong Jianbo is the Founder of Deco Bébé, and a young entrepreneur belonging to the Shanghai Federation of Industry and Commerce, in Shanghai’s Huangpu District. He was an engineer for a well known automobile company in Europe, then returned to China in 2014 to found Deco Bébé. He works to bridge the differences between Eastern and Western cultures, leveraging product design quality, to build a Chinese childcare brand to be proud of. Under his leadership, his company has been recognized by the Golden Pin Design Award, and China’s Red Star Design Award, among other achievements.