Color & Materials Design


Karen Lee

Adjunct Faculty

Rhode Island School of Design BFA Textiles
Cranbrook Academy of Art MFA 3D Design

Karen Lee

Research Interests

Karen is a designer of objects and materials. Her current work attempts to find new communal systems that oscillate between our human understanding of them and that of the objects’ experience of inhabiting those structures. Some of these structural design experiments explore the ‘in-betweenness’ of objects in terms of their value as both functional furniture and as objects that can possess their own agency.

Professional Experience

After receiving her BFA at RISD in Textiles Design, Karen started as a Materials Designer working at NIKE Inc. within Sportswear, Performance Basketball, and Field Sports categories, designing innovative and experimental materials for various performance footwear needs. After 5 years in the industry, she returned to school to receive her MFA in 3D Design at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Her current body of design has been featured on Dezeen, Sight Unseen, and Artsy. She has exhibited work in Design Week Portland, Design Month Detroit with Form & Seek, and International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City and has work in the permanent collection of the Cranbrook Museum of Art. She most recently has been longlisted for Dezeen Awards 2020 in furniture design.

Karen has a studio in the North End that she shares with other Detroit-based artists and designers.

Significant Publications/Presentations/Exhibitions

2020 (Upcoming) Never Normal Exhibition with Form & Seek, Wasserman Projects, Detroit Design Month, Detroit, MI

2020 Dezeen Virtual Graduate Show, Digital Show

2020 Cranbrook Graduate Degree Exhibition, Digital Show

2019 Experiencing Perspectives, Mercedes Benz Financial Services, Farmington Hills, MI

2019 SUBSTANCE Exhibition with Form & Seek, Detroit Design Month, Detroit, MI

2019 Outreach, Proximity Gallery, Digital Show

2019 Design Mutations, International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), Constellation Award, New York, NY

2018 Define: Materials Group Show, Portland Design Week, Portland, OR