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 minimalist pieces with deft whimsical touches. 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 experience he gained collaborating 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 in San Francisco, Chicago, and Milan, Lee and his team now design for both major furniture manufacturers and independent clients. His work has appeared in museums, movie sets and in celebrity homes of Bruce Willis and Michael Jordon. Lee’s designs have also been widely exhibited internationally and reviewed in notable publications such as the New York Times, Metropolitan Home, Surface Magazine, Case De Abitare, ID, Metropolis, Interni and Dwell.
Lee’s theoretical approach to design hinges on the tactics of an actor. Working with a wide range of materials and resources, he prefers not to work with any one particular material on a consistent basis. Lee considers “California cuisine” an apt metaphor for his work—a mix of seemingly incongruent ingredients carefully combined to create something new and fresh.