One afternoon at the firehouse I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee, trying to come up with a good tattoo design for a firefighter on my crew. I was drawing an axe on a paper napkin when someone walked by and said, "Hey, that would make a cool t-shirt," and that's how Ride Backwards was born.

It's been a few years since I've been on the line fighting fires. That time has been spent creating hundreds of designs on every imaginable product for a variety of events and clients. I've learned a lot about myself, design and apparel, over the years, what endures, what sells, and what makes sense. Smart design is the guiding principle at Ride Backwards. It's what moves the boat.

If you've ever seen a racing shell go by, you'll realize that their crew also "rides backwards" when they row, like firefighters do in their truck when it rolls down the street. So, I'm still riding backwards, I'm just doing it in a boat now. A lot of the designs I create will be around rowing as that's what I'm doing, but it's not all I'm doing or my only interest. I plan on following my design instincts wherever they take me, so stay tuned to find out.

Ride Backwards is a former firefighter/current rower owned and operated company out of Chicago, IL.

We run our shop on the "Less but better" principle, as designer Dieter Rams wisely said:


Less, but better – because good design concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Design Forward • Ride Backwards


Mia Zierk

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