photography by Young Kwang Kim
Designer Kwangho Lee uses a variety of techniques and objects to create extraordinary designs. Lee’s art has taken many forms, from sculptures and installations to interior design objects and paintings; each accentuates the charm of its materials.
From a young age, Lee grew up in an environment where he was surrounded by nature. This eventually made him curious and opened up his interest in materials that were commonly found around him. His exploration of different types of mediums is a study of sensory experience. Whether it’s chairs and stools made from woven PVC cords or lamps made from styrofoams, he allows the viewer an opportunity to encounter the unfamiliar facets of everyday objects. We paid a visit to his studio in Seoul, where his exploration of materials continues to take place.
Plus: Looking at your oeuvre, it is fascinating how you always experiment with a wide list of materials and we are curious how this course of action took place for you.
Kwango Lee: Ever since I was young, I enjoyed playing with objects and making things based on what I had. I started with the idea of becoming a jewelry designer because the thought of making my own designs and gifting them to my loved ones was special. As my major in college was a metal craft, I naturally started to have an interest in various mediums and their properties, which expanded my perspective beyond jewelry design.
However, back in those days, I couldn’t afford to buy expensive materials, so I began to utilize items that could be easily found in everyday life and objects that I was familiar with. I also wanted to rely on a method that I could handle from start to finish. Ever since then, I have been employing materials such as wires, styrofoam, and PVC to create works to this day.
P: Choosing material must play a crucial element in your process. Can you elaborate on your selection of materials and are there any materials you would like to explore?
KL: The works that I’m creating right now are an extension of the past series of work that I have been making. This naturally makes me practice wider into the same materials that I’ve been exposed to and experiment with different methods. At the same time, I do want to get my hands on using different objects that I have never used and I am constantly thinking about other exciting projects.
P: Your works are unique in the way that they form a relationship with space, and the idea of ‘spatial element’ plays an immense role in your works. How do you incorporate the concept of space and object into your practice?
KL: I think it just happened intuitively. When I was making my earlier works, I was looking for a specific space where it would suit my work and now, I am creating a space and forming objects that could enhance the whole environment where space and objects act as one rather than separate entities.
P: How has your studio evolved throughout the years?
KL: I think the studio itself is a reflection of everything that I’ve been through. It’s quite difficult for me to explain any specific story because space is a representation of myself as an individual and an artist. My studio changes constantly depending on my mood, and I tend to play around with the placements. Sometimes I like to have lots of furniture and objects in the studio, but currently, I am trying to clear the space.