Korean Designer Kwangho Lee takes inspiration from the ordinary, innovating ancient Korean techniques with a style which transcends multiple materials such as copper, PVC, enamel, metal and more.
Kwangho Lee was born in 1981 and grew up in a small city next to Seoul, Korea. A Metal Art & Design major at Hongik University, he graduated in February 2007 and currently lives and works in Seoul.
Making things by hand was a great joy as a child, which seems to be inherited from his grandfather, who, a farmer himself, constantly hand-made daily household goods from natural materials found nearby. Kwangho Lee appreciated how he looked at everyday objects and thus began to approach things in similar ways; to give new meaning and function to the most ordinary. Today, as he continuously presents new series of works, his approach has made some developments which are in-depth discoveries of moments when materials meet(or join) one another. Until now, he works with marble and marble, copper and enamel, steel and steel and tries to describe in his works the instant moment of union.
Solo Show at Salon 94 Gallery, New York
From baked enamel and metal sheets to malleable rope, Lee has been experimenting with and refining familiar processes in the last two decades of his career. Infinite expansion exemplifies Kwangho’s ever-growing knowledge and curiosity of metal and rope that transforms lines and planes into functional objects and displays a survey of Lee’s materiality range.
Lee began working with knotted ropes over 15 years ago, with PVC rope draped over bulbs to create shades. Expanding on his knotted process, Lee steps out of the box to combine various materials providing planters and other objects with a wider range of colours and textures. Beginning as a line, ropes in various materials are knotted, woven, or tied together to create intentional chaos; with no identifiable beginning or end, they form an infinite loop.
As a former metal craft major while at the Hongik University in Seoul, Lee has expanded his material expertise to work with nylon, silk, leather, foam, PVC, and electrical wire, never losing touch with his metal practice, Lee’s enamelled copper, borrows from an ancient Korean technique chilbo, which roughly translates to “seven colours of gem”, and is traditionally used in small jewellery or household objects. The ancient craft employs crushed coloured glass that is applied wet or dry onto brass or copper sheets and fired. “A traditional kiln for chilbo is quite small because the chilbo crafts are made in small sizes,” says Lee, and with restricted access to institutional kilns in the past few years, Lee decided to build his own kiln in his studio, allowing him to work with the copper and enamel more intimately, and providing him more control and space for building copper forms and mixing enamel colours.
The continuity in Kwangho Lee’s practice builds on a foundation of existing materials and expands the vocabulary that Kwangho has developed with both knotted and metal enamelled works. Lee has created a system that allows him to build and introduce new shapes – a platform for infinite expansion.