From a gnarled oak tree to a sleek pocket knife, award-winning San Francisco industrial designer Rick Lee finds inspiration in everyday objects. An innovator at the vanguard of modern design, Lee combines rational thinking with radical influences to create whimsical minimalist pieces.
Upon obtaining a degree in industrial design, Lee began his career in Chicago with notable furniture manufacturers and design studios. Relocating to Milan, he then honed his distinctive artistic style seen in his work today. Incorporating minimal principles of Bauhaus with the experience he gained at the irreverent Studio Alchimia, Lee nurtured a unique aesthetic that is both vibrant and charismatic.
After more than 15 years of multi-disciplinary exploration, Lee and his team now design for major furniture manufacturers and independent clients that include Bolnaldo, Magis, American Leather, DWR, the San Francisco Opera Guild and the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art. His work has appeared in movie sets and in celebrity homes of Bruce Willis, Kathy Griffin and Michael Jordan.
Lee’s designs have also been exhibited internationally and reviewed in notable publications such as the New York Times, ID, Elle Décor, Surface Magazine, Dwell, Casa di Abitare and Interni.
Lee’s theoretical approach to design is not unlike an actor’s tactics. Working with a wide range of materials and resources, he prefers not to use any one particular material on a consistent basis. Lee considers “California Cuisine” an apt metaphor for his art – a mix of seemingly incongruent ingredients carefully combined to create something inspiring and exceptional.