Rollout the wallpaper

Fun with glue and custom wallpaper from Vancouver-based Rollout. Plus bonus interview!

Vancouver-based Rollout designs custom wallpaper for clients including Microsoft Zune, MDB Design Group, Eleven Eleven Architecture and Levitt Goodman Architects. Rollout was at ICFF with four other firms under the umbrella of New Design Canada, with support from the Canadian government. We had a chance to talk with Anita Modha of Rollout when she was in TO a while back.



How is wallpaper a unique creative medium?
Wallpaper today can be anything you dream. Advances in digital technology allow us to design and print low-run, custom wallpapers from photographs, illustrations, collage – almost anything you can think of – and create unique spaces and experiences, whether it’s in commercial, residential or corporate settings. There are (almost) no limits.

How long does it take, on average, to produce a custom wallpaper?
We usually tell people between 2-4 weeks, but you never know what to expect with custom projects. The creative process works differently with different people. Some clients see the first idea we sketch out and want it. With others, there is more development required to figure out what they need. Some new ideas take time to get used to and it also helps to see what other people think. After a design and colour sample have been signed off on, the final paper can usually be printed and shipped out the next week.

Where are some of the wilder places your papers have appeared?
We have wallpapers in two conference rooms of the Microsoft Zune Campus in Redmond, WA. One of the rooms is covered in Trent Good’s ‘Warbabies 2′ – a pattern that uses bright and bold simplified illustrations of rainbows and tanks. A friend who works there calls this the ‘Room of Truth,” as the tongue-in-cheek glorification of war seems to make people meeting there feel more at ease with speaking their minds. Who knew that the art we are creating would have a direct effect on the outcome of corporate meetings?

What wallpaper do you have in your offices, if any?
We have a variety of papers up at the moment, as we’re getting ready for trade shows and art exhibits. We print and hang sections of prototypes in order to get an overall sense of scale, colour and balance. We also have Chloe Perron’s ‘Words Spoken Quieter Than Actions’ up, along with a bunch of markers nearby. This encourages visitors to leave us fun, personalized messages and pictures.

Do you also have a shop?
No. Every wallpaper design is specifically made for each of our clients, and therefore a studio space makes more sense than a retail storefront at this time.

Are all your artists from Canada? How do you select them?
In 2005, we had an art show called ‘Rollout: An Exhibition of Wallpaper as Art.’ We put out an open call to our friends to design what wallpaper could be. Most of them were Canadian, though not necessarily living here any more. The response to the show was amazing and we soon realized that wallpaper could come back from the dead and be a fun and exciting business. Since then, we have been in a few trade shows and worked on a lot of high-profile projects. The result is that a lot of creative people from around the world are seeing our work and contacting us about possible collaborations. We are always interested in working with new people, though our schedule and workload does not always allow us the chance.

How many different wallpapers do you produce, on average, in a year?
The great thing about digital technology is we can prototype very quickly and inexpensively. Therefore, we’re always experimenting with imagery, texture and pattern. Throughout the creative process in designing one wallpaper, we come up with many other ideas, some of which keep coming back until we find a suitable project to use them in. I would guess that we have about 50 different designs in various stages of completion.

Any advice on how to hang wallpaper?
We always recommend hiring a professional. If your paper is installed poorly, people won’t be able to see the artwork through the flaws.