In 1990, Hubert van Ham started Radical Design. As a repair-technician for outdoor shops and with a passion for mountaineering, the goal was to make backpacks that excel in reliability and simplicity of construction. Since then the company has grown globally, but the original vision endures.
Whilst products such as the iconic bicycle trailer Cyclone and the walking trailer Wheelie remain core products, Radical Design now also manufactures technical textile products for other markets. Hubert nurtured Radical Design into the rapidly developing global business you see today. Now after 30 years the company has entered a new phase. Spring 2020, Hubert and Catherine pass the baton to a new generation of 'Radical Designers', to Bert and Kyra Ottens!
Owners & Managing Directors
Starting April 2020 we can proudly call ourselves the owners of Radical Design! In the past 30 years, founder Hubert van Ham has built a very special company. It is a great honor to be his successor! For us, this also means a new chapter in our lives. After 12 years of living and working abroad, we have settled in a very beautiful northern province of the Netherlands: Drenthe.
From 2007 till 2019 we lived and worked as a family in Ethiopia and Turkey. A wonderfull experience! In 2019 we realized that it was time for the next step in our lives. We wanted to offer our children a future in the Netherlands. We also decided to explore the possiblities managing our own company. During this search we got in touch with Hubert and his wife Catherine. We both felt an connection and in the months that followed, the aquisition process took place, step by step. April 2020, in the middle of 'corona-time', we signed the takeover and the 'real' work started!
We look forward to this new phase together with all Radical Design employees. While the world is going through an unprecedented time, we all believe that sustainable outdoor sports articles and all other designs and products from Radical Design contribute to a beautiful and healthy future!
I always loved designing things and I dreamed that this could become my job. Already during my last two years of high school I started studying design, but after finishing my degree in industrial design, I realized how big the gap is between the worlds of study and work. I also realized that despite the knowledge I had received, I had hardly any practical know-how. That's why I decided to become Sellier-garnisseur with ‘Les Compagnons du Devoir’, an association that trains craftsmen by partnering up with companies in the craft industry. As the years went by, I went from crafts to prototyping to finally designing again.
I took a liking to cycling as soon as I learned to use it. For many years, I went everywhere by bike, but I always suffered from sore buttocks after a full day of cycling. One day, I discovered the recumbent bike, which fascinated me right away. That's how I discovered Radical Design and their products. I began to dream: would it be possible to combine my passion and my job?
Today I design and develop products at Radical Design, but I also participate in all the tasks necessary for the company to operate smoothly. I'm happy to have arrived here. I consider having successfully linked my childhood dreams, my teenage aspirations and my grown-up’s convictions because Radical Design values are also the ones I was looking for.
In the final phase of my studies Industrial Product Design, I went looking for a suitable subject for my graduation project. I wanted to develop myself further in the field of textiles and I came into contact with the company Radical Design. The company and its products really appealed to me, because of working with technical textiles, but especially because of the outdoor orientation. I really enjoy outdoor sports, such as kayaking and hiking and I also like to camp as basic as possible with my hammock.
After an introduction and job interview, it turned out to be a good match for me and Radical Design and I was allowed to start my internship and research. I designed a containerisation solution for the Bullitt Bike, as an addition to the existing Radical Design Bullitt Bag. Because I had a complete sewing studio at my disposal, I was able to go through all the development steps during my project. From defining the market to a production-ready prototype. This is also one of the reasons why I love working with textiles so much. The step between devising and realizing is a lot smaller than with other production methods.
After completing this graduation project and finishing my studies, I remain part of the Radical Design Team. I now work as a designer and production employee and I still learn a lot every day. Like Romain, I ran into the fact that the gap between study and practice is very large. During my studies, working with textiles was not part of the program, and therefore I had to delve into it myself. At Radical Design, I had the opportunity to learn the trade from a group of experienced seamstresses and product developers. Romain and Hubert are instructive supervisors and sparring partners and I also learn many different techniques from Henny and Esther that the sewing machines have to offer. This makes every assignment that comes along, a new challenge from which I can learn and where I can put more and more knowledge into. For every design question I get, there is a design solution. After all, the possibilities and options are countless! I look forward to all the projects and products that will come my way!
Production & Assembly
Radical Design is a company where well-being has top priority. Well-being for people, animals and the environment. This shows by the way we separate waste, but also in the purchase of products.
But also towards us as staff, well-being, I would say, is the most important. Pressure is out of the question, because that would only cause stress and stress increases absenteeism, so not good.
We are people, not numbers. This of course can be achieved easily if you're a group of 7 people, but it’s not just a matter of size. It is rather our attitude and our approach towards each other. Even though there is a difference of boss / staff, yet we are equal.
We do not have to adjust ourselves to the company, but we are what makes up the company. If new staff is being hired, we’re all asked how we feel about working with the new person, before a decision is made.
All this makes the atmosphere within the company is very laid back and relaxed. I am very happy to be working here.
Esther and Henny have been working at Radical Design already for 10 and 20 years respectively!
“Together we are responsible for the production in the workshop in Gasselternijveen. The work is diverse and versatile. There are products that regularly return to our work, such as the much-sold recumbent bicycle bag Banana Racer. But also parts for Dutch wheelchair manufacturer Veldink often come by. The variety is in new designs that often also involve new techniques. In addition, one product revolves around a large surface, such as the Velomobile covers, but with other products there are many more small details.
But whatever product it is, we make it with the same attention and dedication. And we are always proud to see, for example, a recumbent bicycle bag of our own brand pass by on the street. Because we always know for sure that it was made by one of us! ”
Mohamed is the newest addition to our team. He joined the production team in the spring of 2022.
“I was born and raised in Syria, but in 2014 I start living in the Netherlands. I have carried out various activities in recent years, but unfortunately my own profession as a tailor was not among them. When I saw the vacancy for Radical Design in the local newspaper, I was immediately enthusiastic! Before my departure from Syria I had always worked in a sewing workshop and now it turned out that there was also a sewing workshop so close to my hometown. That day I passed by to meet and after showing my skills I started my new job!
It is very nice to pick up my old work again and to hear the sewing machine rattle. It is also nice to work in a team and to learn new things. I see a bright future at Radical Design."
Founders & Product Design
We met each other while climbing in the Chilian Andes. After several years of mountaineering, traveling and working abroad, we started Radical Design with empty hands and almost empty pockets, but with plenty of enthusiasm and a clear vision to design and build rock-solid luggage, and family and friends ready to support. We had this vision alright, but we believe that it has been the capacity to really listen to what our customers ask for that has been crucial in our success.
For just over 30 years we have pursued this dream through highs and lows, teaming up with very friendly and motivated professionals in our workshop and office, most of whom are with us for more than 10 years. We have learned so much about materials, designs, software, how to do business, nationally, internationally. We learned how to work together with other people and how to care for each other.
At some point we realized that Radical Design’s reputation demanded it to grow bigger than what we were comfortable with as owners-directors. Shortly after, we met Bert and Kyra. We are fully confident that they are the perfect match for Radical Design today onward. We are tremendously grateful to all the people around us who made it possible for us to bring Radical Design to where Bert and Kyra took over.
Hubert continues to enjoy assisting Bert and Kyra with tips and design enthusiasm. We started by knowing Bert and Kyra as our successors, now we know them as good friends.