All Images by Fabian Battistell.
Raised by his grandparents, Kwangho Lee grew up on a farm in the far country side of
Yong Chong in South Korea. He is strongly influenced by his grandfather, working with his
bare hands to build implements for everyday life, and his ability to manipulate materials
and turn them into something useful. Learning traditional crafts from a young age,
this philosophy and habit of creating things taught lee the modesty and ‘down-to-earth’
qualities which are evident in his work today.
Developing one piece at a time, Kwangho’s childhood, among tradition and elements,
is the creative driving force behind his work, uniting design, art and craftsmanship
to make unique pieces in small quantities. Kwangho does not plan in advance how to take
a material and create something functional with it. Instead he prefers a more abstract way
of experimentally applying craft to a material.
Kwangho Sculpts masses of styrofoam into light shades.
For one of his projects, Kwangho has taken the mundane material of styrofoam,
sculpting it into objects which results in a particular aesthetic. Using a basic technique
to carve huge blocks of styrofoam, he turns the common into something sublime,
with contouring lines and topographical textures.
View of styrofoam carved lamps.
Kwangho’s knitted lights combine the most basic elements – bulb and electrical cords -
with the century-old habit of man to make knots, considering this act of tying and making
knots as a technique inherited and passed down among generations as a means to facilitate
or even maintain life. According to his motto ‘ordinary objects can become something beautiful’,
the initial idea of his ‘weave your lighting’ series is the simple thought of turning the lamp
inside out, getting rid of the lamp’s shade and body and keeping only the essentials.
Lamp woven with electrical cord.
‘The biggest inspiration of this lighting is my mother’s knitting hobbies during my childhood.
Her knitted sweaters and gloves remind me of the good days of my childhood. I saw a neat pile
of electrical wires as yarn and soon decided to knit (weave) my own. Other than knitting
with needles, I developed a new way of weaving the rubber, but solid wires into long,
scarf-like or brush-like forms of lighting. They are each woven by one long piece of wire which
varies in length from 10 – 300 metres.‘ – Kwangho Lee
Kwangho Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1981.
He graduated from Hongik University in 2007.
A pattern of duality and contrast between his rural childhood in humble conditions
and the urban living experience from the years of his school education, play a key role
in the creative handling of his environment today
Kwangho currently lives and works in Seoul with his wife and son.
Designer / Artist Kwangho Lee