In The Shop : Ryan Langer, Head Craftsman
Posted on September 27 2017
What’s brought you to NY
I'm an American interloper. I grew up in glorious Toronto, Canada. My mother is American and I've got family on the West Coast, where she's from originally, so I've been visiting fairly regularly since I was young. I grew up on a pretty steady musical diet of New York based rap music and had been reading Rem Koolhaas' Delirious New York on one of my first visits, so being smitten with the city was pretty much unavoidable.
After college and a long-term adventure/vagabonding stage I moved to NY. I had a girlfriend out here for school at the time and during visits became aware of the overwhelming and varied kinds of opportunity on offer. The concentration and combination of talent, experimentation and entrepreneurship in Brooklyn was very attractive to me and, I felt, lacking, absent or perhaps simply unavailable to me in Toronto.
What you do for Lowercase:
I, technically, am heading up the production and processes aspects at Lowercase now that they've been largely established. That said, still remains largely a collaborative process, given current size of our team.
Your typical day:
A typical day likely involves a variety of handling and processing of raw materials and preparing them for more precise machining. Machine maintenance and operation of course. Lots of measuring and calibration; minute differences (even .25 of a millimeter) or lack of symmetry can make the fit and feel of a frame compromised. looking for small tweaks to improve our processes and efficiency, often making very small adjustments to make sure our frames fit accurately.
The biggest challenge you have in your current role:
Biggest challenge from a production standpoint has been getting a grip on all the idiosyncrasies of our machines. They aren't, initially, particularly intuitive to use and require a special attention and sensitivity to calibrate. No instruction manuals here! Lots of trial and error. Also, being such a small team, our roles, evidently, can be pretty fluid and it's been a challenge (a welcome one at that though) to think and make meaningful contributions to the business in realms outside my strengths and comfort zone.
What you love the most about the job:
Highlights for me are certainly being part of a team that has such a strong interest and belief in our model and business. Light, integrated and humanely scaled manufacturing has the potential to offer a better more economical product, with less waste. I think these are really valuable tenets to live and work by. It's also wonderful and encouraging being a part of a workplace that prioritizes craft, production and design equally.
Favorite Lowercase Frames:
The black Marltons have been in the summer rotation for me. Classic profile and go well with essentially everything. I've worn them at weddings and at music festivals. An extremely versatile shape.
Career before Lowercase:
Before Lowercase, and most of my tenure in New York, I've been involved in businesses that combine design and fabrication/construction practices. Typically in the architectural realm. Prior to my move to the US though I had sort of naive literary ambitions and was keen to work in publishing. I'd always been curious and fascinated by the built world and how things function mechanically and operationally, however, and managed to parlay those interests into work and relationships at places where I've learned a great deal from talented and creative people.
What you're listening to:
These days, listening to a podcast called "What's Good with Stretch and Bobbito". Co-hosts of a renown former college radio show that showcased NY rap talent in the 90s. Essentially all of the genre defining artists' first experiences' on the radio and releasing music began here. Hosts have matured somewhat over the years and fall more are less in the music/cultural journalism category. Smart people with very deep musical knowledge. They're also ludicrously funny guys who, undeniably, get a kick out of co-hosting a show together.