Are NFTs art? The team behind LAGO offers a hearty "Yes" and they've got the product to prove it.
Meet LAGO, the real-world frame that provides a lush spotlight for digital collectibles. Its customizable façade allows owners to display their NFT collection in the real world, granting these words the same legitimacy as art on canvas.
LAGO's 33" screen is tailormade to be an optimal showcase for NFTs of all stripes and it boasts Master & Dynamic sound capabilities — LAGO co-founder Jonathon Levine also created M&D — for an immersive viewing experience and gesture controls that render old-school HUDs obsolete.
The idea here is to celebrate the beauty of what NFT-savvy artists can create. Sure, if you want to exhibit your monkey avatar throughout your house ultra-crisp HD, LAGO can make that happen.
But LAGO can also render IRL depth to even the densest digital work. It was envisioned to work for metaverse-savvy investors and analog-only art collectors alike.
Say an artist creates their first NFT collection and a longtime follower with no experience with tokens or crypto or whitelisting wants in. LAGO aims to position itself as a bridge for the unaware while simultaneously offering a viewing experience on par with that of IRL art.
Though the core of LAGO is the $9k Founders’ Limited Edition Frame, which launched on LAGO's website March 15, there's even more to the project under the hood: LAGO authenticates tokens, for instance, and is accompanied by a bespoke app.
Exclusive to LAGO owners, the app aids prospective buyers in everything from tracking new drops to uncovering private sales. LAGO's app also monitors factors like viewership and location (i.e. which LAGO frame is displaying which NFT).
The community is clearly impressed: LAGO just completed its first fundraising round of $4.2m in pre-seed cash, bringing on plenty of people whom LAGO describes as "web3 heavyweights."
Early LAGO co-signers include Ian Rogers, CXO of elevated digital wallet company Ledger, Mariano Conti of DeFi Capital and MakerDAO, and 888, who possesses one of the world's largest NFT collections.
Suffice to say, it's a good time to be involved with the metaverse (and the meta products translating the metaverse to the real world), so it seemed like high time to speak with LAGO co-founders Scott Gralnick, Jonathan Levine, and Dan Merritts.
What value does LAGO bring to NFT collectors?
Scott Gralnick: A lot of collectors haven’t diversified their art collections with NFTs because there wasn’t an elevated way to view their minted works or even engage with them in a simple, streamlined way. LAGO delivers exactly that.
Jonathan Levine: What we’ve created at LAGO is not only beautiful but solves the problem of curation, bringing a white-glove service into the frame itself.
Dan Merritts: We’ve also created an extensive authentication and provenance layer, so NFT ownership is always verified.
What's the benefit of using LAGO over, say, a TV or computer screen?
JL: LAGO was designed specifically for NFTs, whether they be layered, 3D motion, generative, augmented reality, or music.
SG: Most TVs or projectors won’t be able to display fine digital art in the way the artist intended. The quality of the display and orientation of LAGO presents the work in the way that does it justice, whilst other methods can hinder the perception. Additionally, our interactivity and gesture control technology not only offer the most immersive experience for viewers, but also act as a multifaceted canvas for creators.
DM: We designed the LAGO frame to be able to sit alongside a traditional art collection, and hold its own beside high-caliber traditional pieces. Another major benefit is being able to authenticate your art with virtually any wallet and orchestrate NFTs on only screens you choose.
What makes NFTs so appealing to the LAGO team and what would the team say to people wary or uncertain of the medium?
DM: We’re all art-lovers, and have been for a long time. The NFT as a medium is particularly exciting to us because it gives the artists total control, and a new way to find success and freedom.
SG: There are a lot of artists that come from a more traditional space, who are creating a lot of amazing NFTs. It’s sometimes hard for the collectors who follow these traditional artists to really engage with the digital ecosystem. Our goal at LAGO is to bring minted works into the homes of these collectors, but in a really seamless way.
JL: While the minted art industry is still in its infancy, we’ve created an ecosystem that can walk people through the curation experience, and introduce them to pieces they can make a connection with, as they would traditional art. We want to shape a future where the metaverse can be accessed and enjoyed with ease.
What role does LAGO play in the future of NFTs? How will it evolve with the culture? Where does the team see NFTs and Web3 going in the future?
JL: The space is growing, and we’re excited to see more traditional artists minting their works, as well as digitally-native artists increasing in popularity.
DM: We want to continue removing any roadblocks or difficulties associated with minted art, and focus on problem-solving behind the scenes, so all collectors can just enjoy their art. LAGO was born out of listening to the pain points of the community, and we will continue to do so as we grow.
SG: LAGO will keep its finger on the pulse of the industry, and grow our network to include the most relevant curators and collectors. Our frame and ecosystem are incredibly versatile, and we’re excited to usher in the ultimate “real life” enjoyment of the growing metaverse.