Karen Lee

is a designer who focuses on materials and objects, and is currently based in Detroit, MI. For CV click on the wormy shelf :-) ------->>

*object-oriented design* >>>
empathetic + open objects
simultaneity of being & becoming
her current body of work engages in objects that redefine their own roles in and relationships to the domestic landscape.

She leverages both woodworking and vessel making processes to explore new and unexpected forms of systems. Because vessels serve as loaded social and cultural objects that typically act as an intermediary between people and space, what happens when their intended use becomes obscured or reconfigured? What sorts of new space or cultural realities can be created from these formal investigations?

IG: @bodegadog

Open to inquiries, commissions, collaboration, or even a friendly hello.

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b. 1991, San Francisco, CA


2020 MFA 3D, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI

2013 BFA Textiles with Honors, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

Group Exhibitions

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

2020 (Upcoming) Stop Making Sense: Expanded Practices in Contemporary Craft, Center Gallery at College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI

2020 (Upcoming) Dezeen Virtual Graduate Show, Digital Show

2020 - 2021 (Upcoming) Cranbrook Graduate Degree Exhibition, Bloomfield Hills, MI

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

Professional Practice

2019 - 2020 Studio Manager for 3D Department, Cranbrook Academy of Art

2019 - 2020 Student-Led Fabrication Workshop Series Coordinator, Cranbrook Academy of Art

2019 Guest Critic for Industrial Design Class, Lawrence Technical University, Southfield, MI

2018 Guest Thesis Critic for Color, Materials, and Finishes Graduate Department, College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI

2013 - 2018 Materials Designer, Nike Sportswear, Performance Basketball, and Field Sports Footwear, NIKE Inc, Beaverton, OR

Awards & Residencies

2020 Cranbrook Art Museum Purchase Prize, Bloomfield Hills, MI

2019 Gere Kavanaugh Design Scholarship, Merit Scholarship, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI

2019 Artist-in-Residence, Conduit, Happy Valley, OR

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

2018 Winter Artist-in-Residence, Penland School of Crafts, Asheville, NC

Permanent Collections

Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI


2020 (Upcoming) Dezeen Virtual Graduate Show

2020 Pink Essay

2020 Sight Unseen Saturday Selects

2019 DesignCore for Detroit Design Month, SUBSTANCE Exhibition with Form & Seek

Untitled (Macaroni for Every Being)

In collaboration with Brett Evans
Wood, Ceramic
56" x 56" x 21.5"

Untitled (Macaroni for Every Being) attempts to find new systems that oscillate between our known 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. ​With the end applications ranging from table top vessels to full scale ambiguous forms that could potentially be a low table, all objects utilize a mixture of traditional materials wood and ceramic.

Featured on Sight Unseen
Saturday Selects March 2020
Pink Essay

Object / Subject

Wood, Glass
23" x 12.75" x 10"

Object / Subject features a multi-use object that combines both glass vessels and table top form.

Culture Club v2

Wood, Glass, Ceramic
40” x 14” x 34"

Culture Club v2 leverages traditional vessel making processes to explore nested systems within objects.

Exhibited at ICFF 2019, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, Javits Center, NYC, May 19th thru 22nd, 2019. This exhibition was awarded the Constellation Award for ‘Best School’.

Permanent collection at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Culture Club v1

Wood, Glass, Ceramic

Culture Club v1 aims to explore ideas of use-value through stacked radially symmetrical vessel forms.

Exhibited at Detroit Design Week 2019, SUBSTANCE by Form & Seek, Detroit Center of Design + Technology, Detroit, Sept 6th - 30th, 2019.

Filtration Tests

Glass, Metal, Assorted Rocks

define: material

Curated and exhibited a group show define: material for Portland Design Week 2018 with Laura Wade.

Laura Wade
Parsha Gerayesh
Jacqueline Lefferts
Frank McGovern
Sam Newman
Georgina Kerr Mcdonald