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A Design Legend in the Making Breaks Out On His Own

When we first heard rumblings that RO/LU — the epically talented, intellectually formidable Minneapolis-based studio that we’ve been covering and collaborating with since its move into furniture design five years ago — was ending, we were sad but also a little excited. After all, what would its multi-disciplinary founders get up to next? This week, we got our first glimpse into RO/LU co-founder and creative director Matt Olson’s new studio, called OOIEE, via a series of mysterious but eye-opening Facebook photos, and a website that defines the practice as “based on the belief that the world makes us as much as we make it and thus, trusting the work that emerges, whether commissioned or self initiated, is an act of poetic surrender that gives life to something that is easy to care about.” Naturally, we reached out to Olson to get the scoop.

OOIEE (or the Office Of Int.\Est.\Ext.) is an open practice that furthers what I began creatively with RO/LU but expands its possibility regarding materials and approaches, as now the fabrication is open. Pursuing the things we love across disciplines and resisting the hierarchy that is often woven into choosing a focus… preferring to believe that trust, patience and respect can allow a focus to choose us. It’s a collaborative effort involving a small group of co-conspirators located all over the world. For fabrication, I’ve been working with an artist named Andy Delany.”

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“In keeping with this spirit,the name of the studio is open too, so there are lots of different ways to refer to it. The acronym OOIEE is nice. It’s pronounced “we” in English and “oui” in French and accordingly, it means “us” and “yes,” two very important words and ideas in our world. We like “IE” too because Interior/Exterior is really at the basis of everything, and when you look up “IE” in the dictionary you learn that it is derived from the Latin word “EST” which is a fun little serendipitous loop back to Int.\Est.\Ext. “Int.Est.Ext.” is an abbreviation for “interior establishing exterior” used by screenwriters to communicate with directors and cinematographers about the soul or essence of a scene or shot. The name is a fun, spiritually lighthearted attempt to point towards poetic and spiritual questions about space, both in the way we experience it and the way it shapes and affects us.”

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“The first set of images here are all pictures of prototypes from an exploratory photography session. I always believe this is a great time for the furniture/objects to start teaching us what they are. This first range is called “Sitting As Seeing and Being In Two Places At Once” and uses reflections and colored shadows as a way to point towards questions about the layers of experience at work in an encounter with a chair or sculptural object in space. Sometimes it’s easy to think of an object as being a separate thing that is within a space rather than something that is part of the space… by using the seat as a lens, hopefully some of this separateness can fade. And the poetic “interior” or emergence one has is present in the same moment and place as the physical “exterior” experience.”

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“The second set of images are from a project called ‘There’s No Separation,’ which I did at the Aspen Art Museum. It involved using a 9.5 x 14-foot textile piece to cover up and merge with works by Ryan Gander, Diana Thater, Anna Sew Hoy, Roelof Louw and Robert Breer as an attempt to place something within and amongst the work of others rather than presenting an independent piece in a group show. There was also a “wearables” aspect that allowed the photo of the Aspen sky, which was printed onto the giant pieces of cotton, to leave the gallery and to extend the experience in ways that are open and unknowable.”

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“Coming up there’s an exhibit with Patrick Parrish in the works, a book, a bi-annual publishing project with our friend Eric Price that I’m super stoked about and a few other exciting projects that are developing. There is also a parallel but separate landscape architecture and design practice called I\E\E. It’s a field I love but often struggle to locate poetic motion within its recent history.” 07 OOIEE THERES NO SEPARATION AAM 06 OOIEE THERES NO SEPARATION AAM