Photographs from Rollout.ca
Vancouver, BC-based creative studio ROLLOUT designs and digitally prints custom wallcoverings by the square foot on 36” wide, premium, latex-based, inkjet rolls of paper. The company recruits and works collaboratively with community-based artists and designers, with illustration, photography, graphic design and industrial design providing their inspirational foundation.
ROLLOUT was born in 2005 out of the need for graphic expression in the interior design industry. The company embraces texture, emotion, and color, and is looking to bring more unique community-based innovation, art and creativity to their clients. ROLLOUT has a client list that includes Marc Ecko Cut & Sew, Extreme Makeover–Home Edition, and Microsoft Zune, in addition to an impressive list of high-end restaurants, clothing stores, galleries, retail shops and design agencies. They have won rave reviews from the likes of Apartment Therapy, Time Out New York, The Globe and Mail, Glamour magazine and Western Living.
Traditionally, wall coverings are silk-screened rather than digitally printed and are sold en masse in rolls from an existing stock. Can you explain a bit about your choice to both print digitally, and also to create your paper on a per order basis?
The initial reason for choosing to print digitally was out of opportunity, as we were given a large format printer and asked to create a business around it.
Around that same time, we also decided to curate and produce an art show featuring wall coverings and enlisted the efforts of our friends and others in the community. The show was up at the Alibi Room for two months and it was then that we realized that not only was it fun to collaborate, it was also interesting. Based on the response to the show, the idea was clearly one that we could create, produce, and sell. With the show, we realized that there was a gap in the market for personalized wall coverings. Everything else in our world was highly personalized, so why not our walls as well?
When we started this whole process, we weren't sure if the idea would take off, so instead of having a huge stock of paper sitting around, we felt that printing on demand would be a much better solution. It is also a more eco-friendly business model, which has always been important to us. Digital printing allows you to print as much as you want, or as little as you want, and also change the color and scale of your design relatively easily before you print your paper. With the digital method, the setup costs are also less, and there are no minimum orders like there are with traditional silk-screened papers.
In addition to printing the repeat pattern of wallpaper, your company also creates digitally printed murals. Is there a difference in approach between the two formats?
Yes, with repeat patterns you need to have a more carefully thought out approach in the way of aesthetics to make sure that the images work together in the repeat pattern (the beauty is in the detail), and that the paper works as a whole when it is printed large scale. With murals, it’s a bit more like painting a canvas in that there is more freedom of movement, which allows for bigger gestures, where you can be a bit looser, and more expressive.
You work locally with businesses in Vancouver, but also on an international basis, having just debuted a new paper in the Mercedes-Benz star lounge for this year’s NYC fashion week. It must have been a great experience to witness the likes of Heidi Klum and Kimora Lee Simmons admiring your work, champagne in hand. How was that event for you?
We have a special relationship with NYC. We love that city deeply and have always been inspired by the people that we’ve met, as well as the design and art that we’ve encountered at events like Fashion Week and ICFF. To be on the other side of that, and have our work enjoyed and talked about by New Yorkers, it was really rewarding and humbling. I think that we were more excited to see Eric Villency walking around and enjoying the atmosphere that we had helped to create, and have Time Out give us a little rave, than we were about mixing with the exotic celebrities.
Above: Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge for NYC Fashion Week With Rollout.ca Wallpaper;
Photograph compliments of the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge
In addition to fashion week, you often travel to NYC and other cities for work fairly often. Do you notice a difference in the aesthetics and risk-taking design-wise from one country or coast to another?
As conscientious designers you do have to respond to the design culture of a city. In the broadest sense, clients in cities like NYC or London tend to take more risks and are perhaps a little more design literate than clients in other cities, as they have been exposed to so much culture and design. But, as with everything in the digital universe, those distances and differences are becoming less noticeable, as ideas are exchanged and design practices intermingle on a daily basis. Designers and clients from smaller cities don’t have to travel across the world to be exposed to brave new design.
In terms of east vs. west coast design, I think that geography and landscape informs your work, so you tend to see more elemental themes (wood, water and sky) in west coast design and a more urban focus (straighter lines and more texture) from the east.
While your work graces the walls of residential spaces, it’s also a part of the décor in businesses such as hair salons, design companies, galleries, and restaurants. Are there additional considerations that are taken when you are installing your work in businesses like this that tend to have high traffic areas?
I don’t think that the physical traffic is really the biggest consideration as much as the mental traffic (the eye traffic). In restaurants and retail stores, the design needs to be big and bold enough to entice and energize the individual viewer, yet detailed enough to not seem banal. The papers, like any visual work on such a scale, need to attract the eye, but not overwhelm the senses. After all, the owners and staff will be living with this design for years. With business spaces, you do need to think more about current fashion and trends. The designs need to be fashionable, but not so much that they quickly become dated. This aspect is obviously less of a concern in private spaces.
Once your final papers have been created for your clients, do you often recommend an expert to install them to their final form, or do many clients hang the work themselves?
We always recommend a professional to hang the papers. This is a custom high-end product and should be treated as such. With designs as detailed as these, if there are imperfections in the installation that's all that will be noticed after the installation is complete.
Some of your work is your own design, and some is the result of collaborations with other artists and designers. What’s the process that you go through to recruit this extra talent?
We feel like we’re part of design community, or a design city, that is not necessarily geographically connected, but bound more by a shared design vision and philosophy. In our early days, as with our first exhibition that gave birth to ROLLOUT, we worked primarily with our friends in Vancouver, but as we traveled and met people of a like mind, we grew to include artists from places like Switzerland, NYC and the UK. It all begins with that first conversation, and you know pretty quickly who you want to collaborate with.
Many of these works are stored as a type of stock reserve that you can print on a made-to-order basis. Does this stock change on a rotating schedule fairly regularly, or are there papers that people have come to recognize as part of the brand that you have carried for years?
I think the best answer to this question is both of the above. We're always striving to add fresh designs to our artist series collection and to give clients access to new artist designed papers, but certain papers have become almost a ROLLOUT brand (in particular the Worth Skull and Parrot Fly designs). We hope that as our collection expands, new designs will also be recognized as signature ROLLOUT papers.
Above: Worth Skull Wallpaper For Worth Clothing Store; Photography by Brad Ralph
In relation to specific designs, I’m curious about the graphics for the Mango Shiva restaurant in Calgary. How did you arrive at the final result?
The concept for our papers always begins with an in-depth consultation with the client about their requirements. We talk through influences, references, the type of atmosphere they want, who their clientele are and what they want their walls to say. As well as a discussion about the physical space, we also discuss their lighting angles, and other elements that affect a space.
With Mango Shiva, the owner gave us some very specific, if sparse instructions: "The Beatles go to Bollywood on an acid trip". We feel that the finalized Mango Shiva paper sums up what we do as a boutique design company. We respond to these types of esoteric cultural tropes (a combination of high and low culture), and we do it quickly and effectively. Also, while the references for this paper were somewhat counter-culture and may have been too outrageous for a family restaurant, the end result satisfied both the owner's unique inspirations as well his need for a paper that works for the broad base of his customers.
Were those hired models that we see in the designs?
In terms of sourcing the models, we found the images that we liked online, contacted the copyright holders, and arranged to give them free product in return for the use of their image. This particular instance was a great example of a micro online collaboration, as well as an exchange of inspiration, as they may want to use our work in the future.
Above top and bottom: Worth Mango Shiva Wallpaper for
Mango Shiva Restaurant in Calgary, AB; Photography by Bryce Meyer
Where can we experience your work in person in the coming months?
If you happen to be in Australia, you can see ROLLOUT’s contribution to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Canberra’s Old Parliament House. The museum, which was three years in the making, features five exhibitions that are dedicated to telling the story of democracy from its earliest origins through to the modern-day events that occurred both locally and abroad. We were contracted by Ralph Applebaum and EDM Studios to work on this project, which included over twenty walls, including a massive multiple wall treatment featuring some of Australia’s most important contributors to democracy. The images were sourced from multiple media including many archival photos.
Above: ICFF in New York, NY
If you are in Vancouver, you can see our work in places like Joeys Long Bar on Burrard, and Plenty Clothing in Kitsilano.
Above: Plenty Clothing in Kitsilano; Photography by Marcos Armstrong Photography
In Calgary, check out Mango Shiva and Worth Clothing. You can also check out Pusch, a clothing retailer we are doing a custom design for. The new stores are slotted to open July 25 in Calgary and Edmonton.
And most excitingly, if you are in NYC this fall, we will be back working with Maurice Villency on the Mercedes Benz VIP Star Lounge.
Got a fabulous idea? ROLLOUT are always interested in new inspirations and collaborative work. See their website for more information and contact details.
Written by Ehren Seeland
For more information on ROLLOUT, their client list, news, media coverage, portfolio,
and guides on how to price and print your artwork through the company,
visit their site at: http://www.rollout.ca/
ROLLOUT Custom Wallpaper
#106-321 Railway Street
Vancouver BC Canada V6A 1A4
Office: (604) 681-3780
Cell: (604) 258-8072
Fax: (778) 737-4567
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