September 28, 2023


Carefully Crafted Home

Kwangho Lee collaborates with Swedish manufacturer Hem

Kwangho Lee grew to become a household furniture designer by prospect. Originally properly trained in metallic artwork and style and design at Seoul’s Hongik University, he produced a number of home furniture pieces for his 2007 graduation present, which caught the consideration of a number of design and style galleries, which include Montreal’s Commissaires and New York’s Johnson Trading Gallery. Above the earlier 15 several years, the Korean designer’s entire body of work has expanded to include things like household furniture, installations and interiors, and he is now launching his 1st selection outdoors the collectible style and design circuit, in collaboration with Swedish home furniture brand Hem.

Kwangho Lee photographed in his Hanam studio, on the outskirts of Seoul in July 2022 with his enamelled copper pieces for Salon 94

The final result of fabrication experiments with wood, stone, straw, sculpted styrofoam, knotted nylon twine and enamelled copper, Lee’s greatly process-based perform conveys an exhilaration for resources and craft that has deep roots in his childhood.

‘My grandparents have been a fantastic affect. They were farmers and so obviously that experienced an outcome on the way I feel and build with my hands,’ he describes. Observing his grandparents utilizing all-natural elements to make applications and objects fostered an interest in producing factors with his fingers. Lee would whittle wood to make slingshots and engage in with handmade drinking water wheels by a stream. ‘The joy of making is central to conveying my work,’ he claims. 

His types are a normal progression of his upbringing. Doing the job from two studio spaces (a more compact studio in Seoul’s Seongsudong neighbourhood, as well as a bigger workshop in nearby Hanam), Lee knots, cuts, bakes and welds materials to produce refined furniture that bears traces of its production process.

The chilbo kiln, used to hearth coloured glass onto copper or brass

Among the his finest recognised operates are pieces showcasing enamelled copper surfaces, which he began generating in 2013 utilizing a classic Korean strategy known as chilbo that he replicates in a large kiln in his Hanam studio. It involves crushing colored glass that is then fired onto copper or brass sheets, with surprising, usually raw effects. The strategy is commonly utilized to jewellery or smaller objects, but Lee applies it to greater surfaces on about welded copper home furniture, or panels inlaid in delicately crafted cherry wooden, to produce chairs, cupboards, tables and lights.

Knotted nylon wire has been a recurring material in the designer’s do the job from the outset. He initially encountered it in 2007 when working on lighting structure – or additional precisely, when he produced outsized knotted compositions of bright blue and red wires, woven all around massive bulbs and partially dangled from the ceiling. ‘At the time, I believed that the 3 most crucial facets of manufacturing lights were being energy, electrical wire, and bulbs,’ he explains. ‘To produce a lights element applying only individuals features, I begun knotting and knitting the wire itself. Right after two or a few decades of building lights aspects using wire, I received the self confidence to weave some thing with each other to make furnishings, and PVC tubing was the substance I arrived to opt for.’

Armchair from the ‘Obsession’ sequence

As soon as all over again experimenting with the substance opportunities of weaving (he tried using it in nylon as well as leather), he made furniture with a lot more rigid and contained shapes than the technique would normally make it possible for. ‘To build a type for woven furnishings utilizing only this process, and devoid of a offered frame, it had to come to be basic, normally it are not able to keep by itself and collapses,’ he suggests of the collection’s easy types, which translate into chairs, sofas and tables. ‘As I ongoing to make these items, I came to create a preference for selected geometric kinds and proportions, and this choice carried above to my chilbo is effective, primary them to suppose a identical variety and proportion.’

The knotted works are component of an ongoing sequence named ‘Obsession’, started off in 2008, which embody a reflection of his views on craft at the time. ‘It was my question of where I could get this weaving, how extensive I could continue on this way of operating. That question continues now. I started out weaving in 2006 for my grad display and I however have so many materials and types I have nevertheless to work on.’

‘Hunk’ lounge chair, from €2,299, for Hem, together with 3D-printed pieces, from a series started in 2019 referencing Lee’s knotted performs

The ‘Obsession’ series caught the notice of Petrus Palmér, founder of Hem: ‘I discovered Kwangho’s woven ropework fascinating for its obsessive character, the pop tradition references and the brilliant colors,’ he says. He commissioned Lee to build new pieces for the model, and the ensuing collection marks the 1st time the designer’s visual language is translated for massive-scale generation and obtainable to a wider viewers.

For Hem, Lee developed a lounge chair whose design stems from a person of the ‘Obsession’ pieces: angular and bulky, the ‘Hunk’ chair is described by four blocks in an archetypal armchair kind, a organic development of the basic knotted designs that encouraged the piece. Obtainable with or without armrests, the chair is accompanied by a sequence of tables, designed of folded and bent metal and created from ‘New Armor’, a 2013 selection of lacquered bronze household furniture influenced by the entire body armour made use of in Korea’s Joseon dynasty (1392-1910).

Depth of ‘Glyph’ aspect desk, from €467, for Hem

‘The starting point is a condition focused to preserving the human system,’ suggests Lee. ‘The curves and straight traces of the shoulders, the torso and the again were being rearranged into a new kind, a new armour.’ The ‘Glyph’ tables for Hem simplify the language of the original works, ‘transforming the styles into hieroglyphics, every single desk with its personal exceptional silhouette as if creating a new word’.

Lee flawlessly embodies Hem’s spirit, signing up for a roster of creatives that blur the boundaries among confined version and industrial design, such as Max Lamb, Sabine Marcelis, Formafantasma and Faye Toogood.

Copper enamelled parts in Lee’s Hanam studio

‘We like to consider that we transfer rather freely among the two disciplines,’ says Palmér, explaining that the brand’s items frequently originate from one-off productions or experiments. The company’s motto, ‘Imaginative types of obsessive quality’, reflects Hem’s mission to be what Palmér calls ‘the defining style model of our generation’. 

‘The key work has been to translate the handmade top quality of my function into a larger sized scale of production,’ suggests Lee. ‘And I imagine that it is been a exceptional obstacle for me, trying to obtain this new way of doing work. This total course of action has been just attempting out new methods and viewing wherever every single iteration normally takes us. I’m quite enthusiastic to see how this goes and wherever the collaborations choose us.’ §

‘Tide’ tiles for Tajimi Personalized Tiles on lacquered bronze furniture from the ‘New Armor’ series