East London Tech Startup Challenges Prada, Hadid and Grigic for Top Design Nod

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New Musical Instrument Surpasses Nest, GoPro to Contend for Overall Design of the Year

London — April 23, 2014 ROLI’s Seaboard GRAND has just won the Design Museum’s prestigious

2014 Design of the Year award in the category of best product. Dubbed “The Piano of the Future” by

CNN, the Seaboard GRAND is a ground­-breaking musical instrument that reimagines the piano keyboard

as a soft, continuous, pressure­ sensitive surface.


Operating out of ROLI’s manufacturing studio in a disused East London railway arch, the upstart tech

company’s founder and CEO Roland Lamb is thrilled to be contending for the top prize ­­ best overall

design ­­ against iconic figures such as Zaha Hadid, Miuccia Prada, and Konstantin Gricic. “It’s a dream

come true,” says Lamb. “I developed the idea for the Seaboard in my first design course as a student at

the Royal College of Art.”


Lamb has followed an untraditional path to this success. He studied classical Chinese and Sanskrit

philosophy at Harvard, lived in a Zen monastery in Japan, and worked as gigging jazz pianist. “When I

came to the RCA I felt like a complete fish out of water. I didn’t know the first thing about how to design a

product but I was convinced that the Seaboard would be a great instrument. I knew it could change how

people make music.”


“In my own life, I’ve tried to combine things that other people think of as completely separate. It turns out

that’s a crucial skill in design. What makes the Seaboard beautiful isn’t just its aesthetics. What makes it

beautiful is that it integrates so many different elements, from software to new materials, into a single

exciting whole that creates new possibilities of interaction.”


Lamb, his co-­designer Hong­Yeul Eom and their 40 colleagues at ROLI will be eagerly awaiting the June

30 announcement of the overall winner. The Design Museum has in the past honoured visionaries such

as Apple’s Sir Jonathan Ive, whose iPhone, iPod, and iPad have transformed the way people live today.

Starting Sunday, April 27, the public can select their favourite nominee in the museum’s first “Social Vote”

platform, at www.designsoftheyear.com. The Seaboard GRAND is currently on exhibit at the Design

Museum in London, along with other 2014 nominees.