Like a forest of wire
by Eric / April 30, 2008

I had the chance to meet South-Korean designer Kwangho Lee right before the recent opening of a solo-exhibition of his recent work at Montreal's Mile-End Commissaires.

The design boutique/gallery is showcasing Lee's series of light installations, lamps made and shaped by knitted and purposefully tangled electric wire.

Lee has been making these lamps for two years now. His initial idea was simple, to turn the lamp inside-out, getting rid of the lamp shade and body, keeping only the essentials, thus exposing the customary hidden wires. He studied wire weaving, exploring traditional techniques and the subtleties of electric wiring for his final grad project in design school.

Combining that knowledge to the lamp sculpting came instinctively, treasuring fond memories of his mother knitting sweaters or gloves, he tackled and tweaked the traditional techniques to suit his craft.

The result is very singular, and by the size of certain pieces, very sculptural as well, small installations in space. His explanation and understanding of his work and how the project has evolved over time is probably best explained by his creative method: an acquired and skilled craftsmanship of wire weaving. He is naturally driven to explore and create that way, the formal explorations are what drive him.


Experimenting with the wire length and girth will inevitably influence the lamp's final shape. A recurring design element which he has committed to since the first piece is the fact that each lamp is composed of only one wire, running from the wall socket right to the light bulb. The wire, with lengths varying from 10m to 300m, becomes the lamp's sculpting material and is knitted or tangled accordingly: nesting a bulb in its braided brush womb, crashing to the ground like a waterfall, wrapping itself to a bulb like a scarf, dangling elegantly from the ceiling.


His most recent piece combining colors and knitting, this lamp reaches out and hooks itself to its surrounding environment.

Lee has over time been tackling larger more complex pieces, slowly evolving to more prominent lighting installations requiring many hooks, imposing themselves more and more in the space. He does hope eventually bringing the idea to much larger scale. He does mention his vision of integrating his blue chandelier units in a specific architectural project, knitting together all the lamps from one end of a building right to the other end.



Weighing close to 40kg, Lee explains that a piece this size and of this complexity takes about 5 days to complete.

After his visit in Montreal, Kwangho Lee is heading over to Germany where he will participate and exhibit his work at Designmai, Berlin's International Design Festival, May 21st-25th. Meanwhile, the pieces will be exposed at Commissaires until mid-June.

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