Spotlight: RO/LU

RO/LU is a studio based in Minneapolis that works on art and design related projects run by Matt Olson and Mike Brady. Founded in 2003 as a landscape office, it evolved through its open practice to include work involving sculptural furniture, performance, photography, writing, video, fashion, land art, architecture and work with art institutions. Frequently collaborating across disciplines, many of their activities fall in between specific categories.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Matt: I’m part of a studio called RO/LU. We do lots of art and design activities. Landscape architecture related work, sculptural furniture, participatory projects, residencies… I love Instagram and still love blogs. I like to change my mind a lot.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? We have a lot happening: We had a piece in a group project called O-B-J-E-C-T-S that opens as part of OFFSITE, a satellite event sponsored by Sight Unseen during the ICFF in NYC. In September, also in NYC, we have a solo exhibit of new works at Patrick Parrish Gallery and a collaborative exhibit with filmmaker Paul Clipson and composer Alexis Georgopoulos at Jack Hanley Gallery. We’re in a super cool group show in September at Volume Gallery in Chicago that then travels to Miami Basel. Working on a proposal for a museum. Several books…I could actually keep going with way more projects :) It makes me nervous but happy too.

What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? I’ve been going through this list of the best 100 movies streaming. And I just figured out that I have access to every HBO series ever made through my cable and I think I’m going to start watching them all again! Mostly I’ve been watching the NBA playoffs though.

If you had one wish what would it be? Truthfully? I guess less suffering on the planet. If you mean in relation to art/design…I would want to return to Robert Rauschenberg’s place on Captiva Island where I was fortunate enough to live for a month last spring, making work and swimming in the ocean.

How did your interest in art or design begin? When I was 7 years old I clipped pictures from tennis magazines and had a huge evolving collage on my bedroom wall. I loved rearranging it and would listen to records while I did. Truthfully, what I’m doing now isn’t really that different.

How has living in Minneapolis affected your design practice? We are based in Minneapolis / St Paul. It’s an easy and affordable place to live and that allows a lot of room to experiment. In many ways though, “place” seems to be evolving. I live on the internet and that is what has affected me most.

Who is your ideal business sponsor/partner? Someone kind, enthusiastic, fair and honest.

What products or companies are you interested in right now? Lavender oil from France, sold by KIOSK, Margiela sneakers, Various Keytags, In-n-Out Burger, Commes Des Garcon Wallets, Pro-ject Turntables, Project No 8.

What phrases or trends do you wish to never come back? “At the end of the day”.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? We like to use art and design history as a material. Also, cheap woods and things that are fairly undesirable to most people. Process? “I am following the process and the process is following me. There’s no separation. And we are both bewildering each other.” Robert Rauschenberg

Tell us a joke.

Q – What is brown and sticky?

A – A stick.

What artists or designers are you interested in right now? Sturtevant, Franz Erhard Walther, Hito Steyerl, Tauba Auerbach, Robert Filliou, Jo-ey Tang, Rodrigo Hernandez, Scott Burton, Jonas Mekas, Mary Manning, Katerina Seda, Matt Connors, Heimo Zobernig, James Lee Byars, Michael Dumontier, Alejandro Cesarco, Strauss Bourqe-LaFrance, Guy de Cointet, Thomas Jeppe, Math Bass, Scott Burton, Aurélien Froment, Brendan Fowler…I could go on and on and on…

What’s your favorite thing about your city? My wife and my dog…nature, rivers, lakes, the Walker Art Center.

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? “Fröbel Fröbeled” by Aurélien Froment

What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Kombucha Trilogy. And I like to make McMuffins from organic stuff and really good cheddar cheese.

What do you do when you’re not designing? I read a lot. I love mags and zines. And tennis. And tons of music.

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? The best is when there is any sort of exchange. The worst… I’m not sure…. someone attempting to turn it into critical discourse?