Roland Lamb is the founder and CEO of ROLI and the inventor of the Seaboard. With wide-ranging interests in music, technology, design, and philosophy, he leads a company of creative polymaths who are inventing new, joyful ways for humans to interact with technology.
Roland grew up in rural New Hampshire, where he was homeschooled. His father is a jazz pianist, and Roland started on the piano when he was a toddler. He started his first business - a jazz cafe for other students - while attending Summerhill, an alternative school in the UK.
At eighteen Roland moved to Japan to live in a Zen monastery. He then traveled the world for several years working as a visual artist and a jazz musician. A passion for cross-cultural thought eventually took him back to the US, where he entered Harvard University. He studied classical Chinese and Sanskrit and graduated summa cum laude.
Roland moved to London to attend the Royal College of Art, where he earned a PhD in Design Products. From an early age he saw the piano keyboard as a source of infinite possibilities, but at the RCA he also thought deeply about the limitations of the keyboard as a mechanical interface for producing sound. He explored the concept of a new instrument whose tactile interface would enable a range of sonic expression that surpassed what is possible on a standard keyboard. This concept became a series of sketches, and the sketches became the Seaboard. While at the RCA Roland built the first Seaboard prototype, developed the Seaboard’s core technologies, founded ROLI, and established ROLI’s distinctive design ethos.
Roland gathered a diverse team of engineers who helped perfect the Seaboard and prepare it for launch. As CEO he continues to lead the development of ROLI’s ever-expanding range of hardware and software products. ROLI launched the revolutionary Seaboard GRAND in September 2013. The Seaboard RISE, NOISE app, and BLOCKS followed in the years after — with each new product becoming progressively more approachable, portable, and affordable so that anyone can get started making music on ROLI instruments. BLOCKS, Roland's latest invention, is a versatile, Lego-like instrument built with modules including the Lightpad Block and Seaboard Block. Developing the original Seaboard was just the beginning of his mission to create a new set of super-expressive tools for music creation.
Roland won a Swarovski Emerging Talent Medal at the London Design Festival in 2014. The Seaboard has won numerous design and technology awards since the debut of the Seaboard GRAND. The Seaboard GRAND, Seaboard RISE, and BLOCKS have won numerous awards including CES Best of Innovation, "Best New Product" in the Musikmesse International Press Awards, and "Product of the Year" from FutureMusic.
Roland and his wife, the novelist Tahmima Anam, live in East London with their son and daughter.