Tell us about who you are and what are you doing at MODA22.
My name is Ryan, I was living in New York City for the last ten years. I studied Industrial Design at Pratt Institute, a design school in Brooklyn, NY. After school, I sort of fell into the fashion industry working as a footwear designer, and eventually transitioned to accessories design. I was working in the industry designing for Cole Haan, Fila, Penguin, Banana Republic, Steve Madden,and some startup brands. I had gotten a lot of experience working with these brands, all the while I was developing my own brand called NOM.AD, The name is an acronym that stands for ‘Natural Organic Matter Advanced Design’. ‘Natural Organic Matter’ is for the focus on sustainability, local sourcing and production, and the commitment to social and environmental responsibility. The ‘Advanced Design’ it’s about our focus on innovation. We take an industrial design approach to travel products, acutely focused on the user experience and how to improve your mobility.
How did you decide to create a male accessories brand?
I’d never classify NOM.AD as a male accessories brand; it’s a mobility brand, it offers mobility solutions. When I started, I had no experience in making these kinds of things. However, I decided to create this brand for three major reasons. Firstly, my main passions in life are travel and design, so I wanted to fuse the two things together. Secondly, urban mobility was becoming a more important global issue, especially with population growths in city and integration of technology into daily life. Lastly, it was clear the women’s market is oversaturated, and there appeared to be a lot of opportunity in the men’s market. While I was at Pratt studying Industrial Design, we had designed everything: products, furniture, spaces-- practically anything. I noticed the things I have always gravitated to are mobility products. It was a reactive education: I decided to do this and, and by pursuing it I have to put myself in this situation.
How did you decide to jump to Spain?
There are many reasons. I would say that it’s a combination of both professionally and personally. I had lived in New York for ten years and it was quite good for some time; but for me the quality of life it isn’t particularly great. It’s really expensive, it’s really fast...and I had decided I wanted a change in scenery and lifestyle. Professionally, I initially want to develop products in New York, but a lot of fashion executives told me that my products probably fit better in the European market. I decided if I was going to focus on selling in Europe, I would make the products in Europe. Thereafter, I found my factory in Ubrique, Spain: a town that has been producing these kinds of products for over 1000 years. To headquarter business operations, it was clear that Barcelona offers a good combination of opportunities: it’s international, it’s geographically and culturally close to the rest of Europe, and to top it all off I think it offers an exceptional quality of life.
And what’s your inspiration?
Living, travelling… It’s like an industrial approach: identify a problem, you have to search for the solution. When I’m travelling I’m usually very aware about problems and I’ll do a quick sketch, or simply pay attention and keep it in my mind until the opportunity presents itself to create a product to solve this problem.
Tell us about your latest prototypes.
The latest products are called the FLO Brief and the FLO Folio. They are connected by a modular system called the FLO System, that allows you to customize your travel experience. This in enable because there are pouches of all different sizes, materials and functionalities that can snap into both of the products, so you can design the functionality of what your products can do. Essentially this is supposed to provide more versatility, flexibility and efficiency with the products-- also it’s fun to snap on like LEGOS! This is all part of what I call the Mobility Ecosystem: a network of travel products that work together. Eventually, we would like to expand with more products (luggage, backpacks, totes) and more pouches of different sizes, colors, and functionalities (like for glasses, cosmetics, etc.) so that it’s a really robust ecosystem that you can customize your travel experience. We exclusively sourced premium materials from within Europe and the products were developed by exceptionally skilled craftsmen in Ubrique.
They are so nice!
Good factory in Spain! [He laughs.]
How did you find MODA22?
Before I moved to Spain, I had visited Barcelona before, but it was important to see what it was really like to live and work in Barcelona-- so I decided to go on a trip to Barcelona for a couple of days. I’m a pretty good researcher, so I found it on my own, prior to my trip. I don’t know how but I found it! At that time, the website wasn’t finished yet but, like I said, I’m pretty good at looking for stuff. When I was in Barcelona, I came to visit MODA22 and Joy was super helpful; and the rest is history.
How do you think that MODA22 can help you with your brand?
For me it’s important to be a part of the community. I was a part of a community in NYC and we were there for each other. In this industry it’s really hard to succeed, so helping one another, being part of the community... you help them, and they help you. Also, I think that I will have opportunities to meet people. Joy and Llorenç are so immersed in the local industry and always available to help out. This industry is so complex, it takes time to succeed and there is a lot to learn along the way.
How do you think that you can help MODA22 with your knowledge and background?
I have friends who have created similar kinds of organisations in the USA, and they are starting to generate success. There is the opportunity to form partnerships between MODA22 and these organizations in the USA; and ultimately find out what works and what doesn’t. Every one of them has their strengths, and hopefully we can pool our resources together to create a global movement in design and manufacturing.