Design Icon ‘Groot-Bereik-Ladder’ – Roel Vandebeek

  • Words

    Christophe De Schauvre

Every other week, together with Sjiek / Het Belang Van Limburg, we present a Limburg design icon, or one that is well on its way to becoming one. This week it is the Groot-Bereik-Ladder (Great-Range-Ladder) by Roel Vandebeek.

WHAT: The Groot-Bereik-Ladder is a ladder made of ash wood with a rocking foot to reach just a little further.

YEAR: 2002

Roel Vandebeek is both designer and artist. Ever since the start of his career in 1994, he has opted for art, industrial design and interior design. He is known for his unbridled creativity, efficiency and unprecedented productivity – he realizes 20 to 30 design projects per year. The majority of his work may have already originated on behalf of companies, but often he goes one step further through projects such as those of the designer collective Het Labo.


The Labo organized a theme project “Ladders Zat” (Ladders in Abundance) in 2002. “Together with the Design department of the VIZO (predecessor of Design Flanders and the current Flanders DC) an open call was launched and I had then sent in some sketches,” says Roel Vandebeek. “One by one, for example, a corner ladder: a classic ladder that folds upwards around a corner and another was the Groot-Bereik-Ladder. This refers to that universal feeling of standing at the top of a ladder and then just not being able to reach it. ”A ladder with some room to play. Both designs were selected from the more than 100 submissions and Vandebeek went to work.

Together with his father-in-law he sat down at the workbench and carried out the ladder in ash wood. “A ladder is really an archetype of functional design. Yet it is deceptively simple because it is not easy to make. For example, we chose ash wood because it has a longer fiber, which ensures that the ladder in its slender design is still strong enough” he says. By mounting a rocking foot at the bottom, Roel Vandebeek promptly shook the classic image. One intervention, find or twist is already characteristic of this designer, who has now climbed high enough in the Belgian design world that he collects his designs under the ‘it’s a Roel’ label.


“There is indeed only one copy of the Groot-Bereik-Ladder. I want to keep it that way. Since “Ladders Zat”, “it has been on many other exhibitions and that continues to evoke reactions.” That’s fine. It strengthens my conviction that it must remain a unique piece. ”The ladder of a good 3.5 meters still reaches a new audience and with the years it carries more traces.

Many acknowledge the unique talent of Roel Vandebeek in the Groot-Bereik-Ladder: giving shape to self-evident things with apparent ease. The art of perverted difficult simplicity. The ladder may be shaky, it is a far-reaching image for Limburg design in general and Roel Vandebeek in particular. It stands tall in his oeuvre, which still, and in every direction, manages to keep everything within reach.

The Groot-Bereik-Ladder is a piece-unique and not for sale.