Kwangho Lee.

Ordinary objects can become something else.

Kwangho Lee was born in 1981 in South Korea, grew-up on a farm but finally finished Hongik University in 2007. Now he awaits the harvest.” Through his unique combination of materials, crafts and concepts, Kwangho Lee evokes true emotion. Working always on concepts as for example “primary transformations for primary materials”, he tries to see to the other side of materials. Everyday’s raw and ordinary materials can be made into something beautiful. After graduation at Seoul University, Kwangho established his own reputation in short time. His work has been represented by galleries such as Johnston Trading in New York, Seomi Gallery in Seoul and venues DesignMiami/Basel artfair or the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.












FROM YOUR DESKS: What inspires your wire work; the twisting and turning? How do you choose the wonderful colour for your wires; both in the furniture and lighting pieces?

KWANGHO LEE: The wire work came from my mother’s knitting which she often did when I was very young. I started it for my graduation exhibition at university four years ago. My personal appreciation for handicraft drives me to go deep with the wire works and also the hard work and time it takes to finish one. I could say that handcraft, time, experiences and practice are always an inspiration for me. The colors, I don’t think so much, they’re mostly chosen quickly by looking into pantone chips. Half the time, the client orders specific colours.

FYD: Did you grow up around thick, raw materials? What kind of landscape were you part of? What caught your eye as a child?

KL: I lived near a farm where my grandparents live for a short time when I was little. I was surrounded by raw nature. My grandparents were farmers and down to earth with life. My grandfather was the one who was very crafty. He would make all kinds of tools needed at home with things he found in woods and farms. My grandmother cooked us all sorts of traditional food in the very traditional ways which I still remember well. I remember the touch, and atmosphere and everything which I think still affects me in some way.

The remains after the harvesting season in farms are large bundles of rice straw. It used to be my favorite playground.

FYD: You were born in 1981; what inspired you? What were you taking in, listening to or watching?

KL: Aside from the countryside where my grandparents lived, the city I grew up is in the outskirt of Seoul and when I was young it was a small city that was less developed, closer to the rural place, but then started to advance to a more modernised city. I could say that I experienced both the rural and the urban life. I think this experience led me to use modern-day material with my hands to make something that was inspired by my old memories. I loved to watch movies in my junior high and high school years. I also collected movie magazines like ‘Premiere’. I still do like movies but can’t watch as often. I like music as well and these days, I’m into the 80s and 90s music. I don’t read much, but when I do, like to read poems and autobiographies.

FYD: What contemporary artists and old masters inspire you?

KL: I respect people who are enthusiastic with what they do.

FYD: What are you working on next?

KL: For now, I want to focus and concentrate on the copper furniture series and maybe start off with some other metal works like tableware.


(Image 1/2: Kwangho’s Studio by Kwangho Lee. 3: photography by H’RO 4: photo by Fabian Battistella 5: Styrofoam Chair Kwangho Lee.)

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