Since launching the Seaboard Grand, music technology start-up Roli has become an influential force in the industry. Today it launches new instrument Blocks, released only in Apple stores and Roli’s website, and DesignStudio has worked with the company to create its launch campaign.
Blocks is a portable and modular instrument system that allows musicians to make music in innovative and expressive ways, and share it easily via the company’s Noise app. Invented by Roland Lamb and designed by the Roli in-house team, the instrument’s main component is the Lightpad Block, a small controller with an interface that involves users combining various gestures on a silicon pad, which lights up to visualise the forms created by the player’s fingers.
DesignStudio used this vibrant display as a basis for its graphic design concept, which is hooked on the phrase Shape Music, and turns the gestures into painterly dots and brushes of colour, or “light trails”. This idea went on to influence a feature of Blocks’ final interface, as “light trails” became part of the instrument’s display.
“The aim for our campaign was to create a new, visual language for music, something that makes sense to beginners, but appeals to experienced musicians too,” says the studio. “An expressive new way of notating music.”
This has been rolled out across print ads, artist ads featuring Grimes, Steve Aoki and RZA, social campaigns and films.
“Roli have a very creative culture which helped us push the concept further,” says Tim Williams, creative director at DesignStudio, “allowing us to not only create an impactful campaign but also influence the experience of playing and learning.”
Roli’s first product was the Seaboard Grand, a keyboard with soft, rounded keys that enables the player to create music using continuous and subtle gestures. It was nominated for the Design of the Year award in 2014. The company’s follow-up product, a midi controller called the Seaboard Rise, has been adopted by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Meghan Trainor.
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