ROLU is a design and art studio located in Minneapolis that released their first line of furniture September 2010. Various pieces have been on view at Art In General, MONDO CANE, MoMA PS1, Phillips de Pury, Skot Foreman Gallery - in NYC, Wright 21 and Golden Age in Chicago, the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art and at Art Basel Miami Beach through Berlin based gallery Arratia, Beer. ROLU’s practice was founded and continues to have a strong link to landscape design work but also extends to relational architectural projects, urban planning work and innovative collaborative public art. Matt Olson, ROLU co-founder, blogs daily about architecture, art, design and culture at ROLU BLOG and writes frequently for various publications concerned with contemporary art and design culture. The studio was founded by Matt Olson and Mike Brady in 2003 as a landscape design and build firm that believed passionately in the inseparable nature of designing and building; that the smell and texture of materials needed to be experienced in order for real meaning to emerge; that there are deep truths in materials and experiences. The studio was also suspicious about the tendency in these times to specialize in one area or another and set out to expand the experiences they were having, convinced that the further their practice strayed from their comfort zones, the more the work would start to lead the studio rather than the studio leading the work. An interest in the zen ideas John Cage often brought to his art and the Japanese movement Mono-Ha that believed in the sacred nature of materials remains to this day. They continue to explore their influences in both a conceptual and material sense. Recontextualizing high art ideas and forms by expressing them with raw basic materials like concrete and steel along with things available at neighborhood hardware stores and steel yards, the work attempts to blur the lines between sculpture and furniture and the fixed place related to landscape and the lack of place in their use of the internet. ROLU describes its recent work, somewhat tongue-incheek, as “found designs”. They cite influences ranging from the foundational unities of De Stijl, the leveling of design and art of Bauhaus, the internal formal integrity of Judd and minimalism, the egalitarian ingenuity of 70’s DIY design, and its contemporary expression in an internet culture of collective and open-source publishing and design. ROLU also credits the discovery of Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione as an early and driving inspiration for its choices regarding materials. Translating roughly from the Italian to “self-design” or “self-projects” autoprogettazione was a set of instructions for creating “cheap, high quality, long-lasting” furniture using a hammer, nails and consumer-grade lumber. For the price of postage, Mari would supply his blueprints to anyone who requested them. At first ROLU thought to produce prototypes in standard big-box lumbers and then publish the designs online: a kind of open-source homage to Mari’s sensibility. But, as their online dérive led to a wider, more hybridized set of influences, the unified materiality of the unadorned lumber, plywood and OSB began to suggest a more fluid agenda: could these objects become an embodiment—a set of physical locus points—for a loosely associated but inter-validated set of principles? The physical form their ideas take makes them quietly radical. Quoting liberally (often near-literally) from a wide swath of design and art sources, ROLU is ‘finding” in that peculiarly Duchampian sense: making something new, not by creating from whole cloth, but by recognizing, extracting and recontextualizing. It is the fact that this finding is occurring on the internet, culled from the fields of art and design, not purchased retail and placed on a pedestal, but discovered as icon and reified as product, that gives their work an unassuming yet unmistakable edge. Upping the democratic ante of a Scott Burton by fashioning it in shopproject
OSB and exterior grade plywood, each translation is, in a way, a wry embodiment of the discourse on the parameters of design and art, high and low, hand-made and manufactured. Propositions are upended: democratic forms become commodities, autonomous form—ottomans. The question of art vs. design is not so much resolved as subsumed by a wave of influence that these objects surf over. written by David Hamlow in 2011

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This site was designed by Mylinh Trieu Nguyen, programmed by Leon Hong and built with Indexhibit

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ROLU is a design and art studio located in Minneapolis that released their first line of furniture September 2010. Various pieces have been on view at Art In General, MONDO CANE, MoMA PS1, Phillips de Pury, Skot Foreman Gallery - in NYC, Wright 21 and Golden Age in Chicago, the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art and at Art Basel Miami Beach through Berlin based gallery Arratia, Beer. ROLU’s practice was founded and continues to have a strong link to landscape design work but also extends to relational architectural projects, urban planning work and innovative collaborative public art. Matt Olson, ROLU co-founder, blogs daily about architecture, art, design and culture at ROLU BLOG and writes frequently for various publications concerned with contemporary art and design culture. The studio was founded by Matt Olson and Mike Brady in 2003 as a landscape design and build firm that believed passionately in the inseparable nature of designing and building; that the smell and texture of materials needed to be experienced in order for real meaning to emerge; that there are deep truths in materials and experiences. The studio was also suspicious about the tendency in these times to specialize in one area or another and set out to expand the experiences they were having, convinced that the further their practice strayed from their comfort zones, the more the work would start to lead the studio rather than the studio leading the work. An interest in the zen ideas John Cage often brought to his art and the Japanese movement Mono-Ha that believed in the sacred nature of materials remains to this day. They continue to explore their influences in both a conceptual and material sense. Recontextualizing high art ideas and forms by expressing them with raw basic materials like concrete and steel along with things available at neighborhood hardware stores and steel yards, the work attempts to blur the lines between sculpture and furniture and the fixed place related to landscape and the lack of place in their use of the internet. ROLU describes its recent work, somewhat tongue-incheek, as “found designs”. They cite influences ranging from the foundational unities of De Stijl, the leveling of design and art of Bauhaus, the internal formal integrity of Judd and minimalism, the egalitarian ingenuity of 70’s DIY design, and its contemporary expression in an internet culture of collective and open-source publishing and design. ROLU also credits the discovery of Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione as an early and driving inspiration for its choices regarding materials. Translating roughly from the Italian to “self-design” or “self-projects” autoprogettazione was a set of instructions for creating “cheap, high quality, long-lasting” furniture using a hammer, nails and consumer-grade lumber. For the price of postage, Mari would supply his blueprints to anyone who requested them. At first ROLU thought to produce prototypes in standard big-box lumbers and then publish the designs online: a kind of open-source homage to Mari’s sensibility. But, as their online dérive led to a wider, more hybridized set of influences, the unified materiality of the unadorned lumber, plywood and OSB began to suggest a more fluid agenda: could these objects become an embodiment—a set of physical locus points—for a loosely associated but inter-validated set of principles? The physical form their ideas take makes them quietly radical. Quoting liberally (often near-literally) from a wide swath of design and art sources, ROLU is ‘finding” in that peculiarly Duchampian sense: making something new, not by creating from whole cloth, but by recognizing, extracting and recontextualizing. It is the fact that this finding is occurring on the internet, culled from the fields of art and design, not purchased retail and placed on a pedestal, but discovered as icon and reified as product, that gives their work an unassuming yet unmistakable edge. Upping the democratic ante of a Scott Burton by fashioning it in shopproject
OSB and exterior grade plywood, each translation is, in a way, a wry embodiment of the discourse on the parameters of design and art, high and low, hand-made and manufactured. Propositions are upended: democratic forms become commodities, autonomous form—ottomans. The question of art vs. design is not so much resolved as subsumed by a wave of influence that these objects surf over. written by David Hamlow in 2011

Please feel free to use our contact form if you have any questions about us or our work.


This site was designed by Mylinh Trieu Nguyen, programmed by Leon Hong and built with Indexhibit