After a long and unimaginable year, we here at Vanish could not be more ecstatic to welcome the New Year in with a brand new Wild Ingenuity Interview. 2021’s very first installment of Wild Ingenuity features our exclusive interview with Leander Angerer, one of the masterminds behind Racing Atelier.
With its workshop nestled amidst the tiny 5000 person village of Oberammergau in Germany’s dreamy Bavarian Alps, Racing Atelier’s roots in nature lay right next to its inspirations. Growing up and throughout much of his life, Leander has turned to outdoor activity for motivation in the workshop. While nowadays, he’s splitting his time between work and taking care of his newborn son, as an avid skier, impassioned hiker, and former professional mountain biker, Leander still makes time to vanish to the outdoors for a little inspiration.
As I quickly recognized through my Skype conversation with Leander, Racing Atelier is not in it to simply sell large quantities for a quick profit. Rather, they are in it to do it right and recognize that their labor is a valuable tool. In today’s interconnected world, ironically more and more “people have lost connections to the way things are made,” explains Leander. This vital relationship between the product, maker, and the client is part of the reason why Racing Atelier only makes packs to order. Leander elaborates, “I love the made-to-order scheme. This way, the energy is always positive and I become heavily invested in making the right pack for my client. It’s almost artistic.”
Indeed, as unique as their hand-crafted backpacks, Racing Atelier is a one-of-a-kind operation with a small but impassioned team of craftsmen who do what they love and love what they do. Such symbiosis is a rarity to come across these days and we really could not be more privileged and excited to share Leander’s perspective on Nature-Culture-Future with you to bring in the New Year!
Tell us a bit about yourself, your company, and how one (or more) of your products is either inspired by or brings people closer to nature. How is nature woven into your product strategy?
Growing up on the countryside with my dad being an artist & my mom a master in ceramics I feel it was meant to be that I now find myself working creatively closely connected to nature. I am a trained designer & Racing Atelier essentially is a design studio. The design service ranges from bespoke furniture, interior to product design & development. With Rucksack#1 & other products of carry, we want to provide a very small range of goods that are just the way we want them to be. We want to share our experience & expertise with others. Everything is developed, designed & handmade to order in our own workshop.
I say “we”, because the team of Racing Atelier is not only myself but my brother Leonhard who is helping on the very technical solutions, for example of our custom aluminum hardware & our close friend and master in saddlery Jakob Pauli. Jakob really brings the leatherwork of our products to the highest level & is a great partner in the process of development.
Nature is woven into our work because we want the materials we use to be “very close to nature” for a very tactile & real feel & look – therefore we use vegetable tanned natural leather for example. Obviously, Dyneema is not “close to nature” but it is important to us to bring our design to a contemporary aesthetic and function. Additionally, it ages in beauty almost like a natural product. Similarly, when making bespoke furniture, I try to bring the natural characteristics & aesthetics of the wood to shine, but with a clean contemporary design.
In that respect, I hope my work brings people closer to nature. As to the materials I mostly work with nature is woven in almost every project I work on for/with a client. Its beauty and/or functionality helps to connect for long-lasting experiences & content. In my opinion, one way to try & make a “better world” is to improve the connection to nature by bringing its beauty to people’s daily lives & make them realize how important it is – not only as a weekend destination for leisure before going back to the city with a big footprint left behind. In that sense nature is a strong, maybe the strongest tool in my workshop
Where do you, and/or members of your team, go for inspiration either online or in-person? What out there in current culture is creating the best or most interesting vibes to motivate you?
In my experience inspiration does not necessarily come from outside or is something that one can go & find somewhere. For me, inspiration depends on motivation & vice versa. Maybe motivation is the driving force – coming from somewhere deep inside (a creative person/me) – and inspiration is only an open eye, an open mind that feeds the personal drive for output – in my case very personal output. In that respect for me, nature works as an eye/mind opener. Spending time outdoors gets my “engine going”.
Culture, art & craft are important to me, but what resonates most within me is when someone does something unique and thoughtful that has integrity. This may not always be my taste or the way I would do things but I feel it’s this integrity at all consequences that come along that make for a unique quality – and that’s what is inspiring.
Without giving away trade secrets, what trends are you seeing and tracking right now that are helping you and your company plan for the future? What traits are you banking on your future audience having that are informing your decision making now?
It is important for me to be very honest about my work. I believe there shouldn’t be any secrets within my design process, the way I make my products, or think about trade. With the backpacks, I want to provide a product that is just the way I want it to be – not only the product itself but also everything around & behind it until it ships to the customer. I feel this is a luxury that does not make the job easier or result in quick success. But I think this consequence is an important factor to my work that I can happily & honestly stand behind.
For the future, I hope more & more people will look for something more meaningful that they connect with, rather than just “shopping”. In my opinion, there can be more to a “thing” than it just being a “dead” mass-produced product. There is an energy that can flow between the 3 – the maker/designer, the user & the product itself. This may sound “esoteric”, but it’s that energy that I want to accentuate with my work because it is the reason for a meaningful connection. I feel there starts to be interest for that kind of work out there – and for a “better & healthier world”… I hope more & more people will realize this.
Our many thanks to Leander for offering his time, wisdom, and perspective towards this piece!