Design Anthology - Asia Pacific Edition

Design Dissenter


riverside godowns into the hip, award-winning Warehouse Hotel in 2016 earned the designer a place on the Design Hotels™ list of industry influencer­s.

Emblematic of The Warehouse Hotel is a lobby lighting display made from blackened wheels and pulleys, which Lee devised as a sculptural hint to the building’s past. The fact that it could pass as an art installati­on isn’t surprising, since aside from fashion and music Lee derives many of his ideas from art. ‘I’m inspired by work that makes me question,’ says the admirer of creatives like artist Olafur Eliasson and designer Thomas Heatherwic­k.

Despite his branding background, Lee’s studio now works mainly on spatial projects. The pivot is the result of his curiosity, rebellion and ‘desire to do everything’, as he puts it. ‘I have a natural tendency to reject things that have already been done. When somebody says the lobby should be here, I’ll ask why it can’t be there,’ he laughs.

His studio’s moniker alludes to this defiance. The name Asylum — the archaic term denoting an institute for the mentally unsound — represents Lee’s belief that a certain degree of madness, and of individual­ity, is necessary for revolution­ary ideas. Coupled with an ingrained sense of user empathy and the ability to engage with strong narratives, this is his avenue to reinventio­n, allowing him to continue creating bold yet meaningful work.


Luo Jingmei

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