Born to Upgrade: Larry Angell of Uncrate
Over the next few weeks, I’m doing a campaign for Gap that features profiles of other design bloggers. The interviews are an extension of Gap’s Born To… Campaign, which is about pursuing your passion. As you may have noticed, I’m into that. You can find out more about the campaign on the Facebook page here. For completists, the whole set of interviews is over here.
This week’s interview is with Larry Angell, founder and curator for Uncrate, which is a killer shopping site for guys. Of course, this essentially makes him the male me. We’ve never met in real life, but it’s probably for the best, because I think if we collided we could potentially annihilate one another, matter/anti-matter style.
Larry grew up in Ohio, where he settled with his wife Julie, and he’s been interested in design since he was a kid.
“Early on, in first or second grade, I started paying attention to other kids,” he says. “What they were doing, wearing, using. I specifically remember that this one boy, Eric, had a plastic, neon-orange supply box that held his pencils, crayons, glue, what have you. But instead of the normal label where your mom would write your name, he had a large rectangular camouflage label. Camouflage. I couldn’t contain myself. How awesome was this box? This was in the mid-’80s, mind you, so my obsession with G.I. Joe was strong. I had to know where he got this box with the camouflage label. I asked and prodded until I knew exactly what store I could acquire both the box and the camouflage contact paper used to make the label. That was the beginning of my madness.”
Since Larry is a products geek, we mostly talked about stuff. Awesome stuff:
Larry’s Favorite Shops
One of my friends in Columbus makes these handsome tees. The buttery-soft shirts feature terrific, mostly sport-inspired, vintage designs. I wear one almost every day either by itself or under an Oxford.
They’ve been churning out American-made outdoor gear since 1897, when they began as an outfitter for the Great Klondike Gold Rush. Nowadays, Filson’s last-a-lifetime bags are all the rage among the workwear posers. Buy one knowing they’ll never go out of style. And that they get better the more you break them in.
Portland General Store
With scents like whiksey, tobacco, moss, and wood, this is the manliest skincare line I’ve seen. The Maker’s Mark-infused old-fashioned wet shave jelly is just what the doctor ordered. They sell a cigar box full of samples for $25. It’s worth getting, even if you just use the bottles for decoration.
Larry’s recent upgrades
Logitech diNovo Edge Keyboard
If Jesus made an input device, it wouldn’t even come close to this thing. Not only is it sleeker than anything Apple could design, this keyboard’s laptop-like keys are so precise and silky smooth that you’d keep typing through a house fire. It’s completely wireless and has a built-in rechargeable battery that literally lasts for months between charges.
This is probably the biggest upgrade I’ve ever made in terms of before and after (think plastic Kmart wading pool). They cost a little more than other in-ground pools, but these fiberglass monsters are so worth it. They come in a slew of different shapes and colors, and get delivered to you on a flat-bed semi. Your pool guy just digs a big hole and drops it in with a crane. A combination of in-floor cleaning and an automated cover keep me free from ever vacuuming. Oh, and another benefit of the fiberglass construction is having built-in seats and ledges all around the pool.
Nike SQ Dymo Squared STR8-FIT Driver
This club added about 20 yards to my drives. I’m still terrible, but this thing keeps me on the fairways (usually) and gets me that much closer to the greens (where the real fun begins). And when I’m slicing and shanking worse than usual, the driver is fully customizable with a few turns of a wrench, letting you adjust face angle, lie angle, and loft.
What’s Inspiring Larry
The iPhone’s camera and all the camera apps. On its own, the iPhone’s camera isn’t the greatest. But with apps like CameraBag, QuadCamera, and ShakeItPhoto, you can take really awesome, vintage-style photos. These apps answer the question of how do you make a crappy picture look better? By making it look crappier. With just a couple taps, your photo is instantly turned into something that looks like it was taken 20, 30, or 40 years ago. This is having a major affect on the way folks are using their camera. I’ve been inspired to turn my photoblog into something entirely new (old?) by documenting my days using only Polaroid-esque iPhone pictures, as ShakeItPhoto’s developer is doing. Some other, non-vintage camera apps I’ve been liking are AutoStitch (panoramas), Photogene (image editing), ColorSplash (cutout style photos), and Camera Genius (multi-function).
If He Could Buy Anything He Wanted?
Tesla Model S
I guess it’s only a dream purchase because you can’t buy one yet, but the Model S is exquisite. It’s really unbelievable that it was designed in the U.S. Besides the beauty on the outside, this eco-ride has crazy numbers — a 300-mile range, a 45-minute recharge, a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds, and a top speed of 120 mph.
They’ve got an inept management system that borders on tyranny. In the history of professional sports, their lack of office talent only rivals the talent they’ve put on the field in the last couple seasons. It’s tough to watch, and I could turn it around in a couple off-season months. Although a new defense this year, led by Roy Williams, Ray Maualuga and Tank Johnson, might be hardcore enough to spit out a winning season.
In-N-Out Burger franchise
What is wrong with this company? Expand east, you a-holes. I don’t go to Vegas now to gamble or ogle girls — I go for the burgers. If this (currently private) company would franchise their joints, every man, woman, and child would have access to the deliciousness of these burgers. FedExing fast food shouldn’t sound reasonable in this day and age. Those are good burgers, Walter.