Image of David Lee - via 'I am not David Lee'

I Am Not David Lee

Questions & Answers

I Am Not David Lee, Singapore

David Lee seamlessly integrates his passion for both art and design, continually pushing the boundaries between the two disciplines. His artistic endeavours frequently explore the intersection of these realms, pushing familiar materials to new and unexpected limits.

Can you tell me about your journey into furniture design? How did you start?

I am a self-taught artist based in Singapore specialising in art and design.

In 2020, amidst the pandemic, I established an Experimental Centre within my studio, dedicating half of my studio time to experiments- exploring bricolage - construction or creation from a diverse range of available things in my studio. This led me to design sculptural furniture, focusing on self-reliance in production since I couldn’t get out of the studio.

Work by David Lee
Image from David Lee
Work by David Lee
Image from David Lee

What inspires your furniture designs?

Minimalistic and simplicity, not just in the silhouette of the object but also in the making process of the object. My inspiration stemmed from a desire to challenge the complexity of modern-day design.

Which designers or design movements have influenced you the most?

Donald Judd. He was arguably the most significant practitioner of minimalism. Donald Judd's work inspires me with its simplicity, precision, and profound exploration of space, form, and materiality.

Can you walk me through your design process from concept to finished product?

My design philosophy revolves around experimentation and exploration of materials and production methods. Rather than starting with a preconceived design, I immerse myself in understanding the qualities, capabilities, and constraints of the materials at hand. This approach allows me to unlock their full potential, leading to creations that seamlessly blend visual allure with practical functionality.

This process is not just about mastering the technical aspects, but forging a relationship with the material, respecting its nature while pushing its boundaries. Through experimentation and iteration, I refine my understanding, constantly seeking ways to integrate form and function.

How do you approach functionality and aesthetics in your designs?

As an artist, aesthetics play a pivotal role in elevating the user experience and imbuing the design with emotional resonance. I approach aesthetics as more than just surface-level beauty; it's about creating a visual language that communicates the essence of the design, evokes an emotional response, and fosters a sense of connection with the user.

As a builder ( I build all my designs myself), my approach to functionality and aesthetics is rooted in a deep appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between form and purpose. By seamlessly integrating these elements, I aim to create designs that not only meet the needs of the user but also delight and inspire them on a profound level.

Which of your furniture pieces is your favourite, and what makes it special to you?

Ethereal holds a special place in my heart as my inaugural foray into furniture design. It began as a bricolage project, sparked by a handful of extra acrylic pieces in my studio. Intrigued by the resemblance of an open-flapped cardboard box to a chair, I sketched out some ideas and fashioned it from the acrylic panels at hand. What emerged was a strikingly beautiful sculptural piece.

What advice would you give to aspiring furniture designers?

In design, the essence lies not merely in our ideas or designs, but rather in the resolute action we undertake to bring them to fruition. We must have the “Just Do It” mentality to transform our ideas into a work of art.

Are there any new materials or techniques you’re interested in exploring?

My fascination with aluminium continues to deepen as I delve further into its boundless potential. Recently, I embarked on a weekend apprenticeship journey with a local aluminium fabrication factory. I hope that through the apprenticeship, not only can I enhance my understanding of aluminium better, but also learn the skill of welding aluminium. 

Check out I Am Not David Lee's Instagram for updates on his upcoming works.