January 1, 2010
A Welcome Wagon
Scot Herbst restyles the classic kids’ ride.
As any new parent will tell you, having kids will change your life in unexpected ways. For Scot Herbst, a San Francisco–based industrial designer and father of two, the event triggered a career shift. “I reached a point where I needed to give back, or at least be involved with something that was meaningful to me in a broad scope,” he says. So after five years of working on consumer electronics for the likes of HP and Cisco Systems, he decided to produce his own line of profoundly low-tech children’s wagons.
Inspiration struck at the playground. Instead of transporting his firstborn to the park in a stroller, Herbst preferred to haul him in a no-frills, old-timey wagon. “It occurred to me, looking at these mommies running around with beautiful strollers, that it was sort of amazing that no one had really addressed the wagon in a contemporary manner.” Two years later, he rolled out the Zen wagon, a sleek Scandinavian-looking two-seater made of bent plywood. Herbst took pains to make the components ecofriendly, from the water-based finishes to the all-rubber wheels—and in the process, he renewed his appreciation for natural materials. “In my previous job,” he says, “companies would manufacture things on the order of tens of thousands of units, and they all looked the same. The beautiful thing with wood is that no two pieces are identical, which makes each wagon unique.” And like any good parent, he loves them all equally. Here he runs down the attributes of his pride and joy, available from his company, Kaiku Design.