Q&A - Karen Lee | Materials Designer

For those who don't know, what do you do?

I am a Materials Designer at Nike

What influenced you growing up?
Weird suburban subculture has always been a huge influence on my style, which has allowed me to realize that there are always different ways of evoking yourself and style.

What made you want to get into textiles?
I always enjoyed color and tactility in a way that can also be expressive. Textiles just seemed like a perfect fit for all those interests within the art/design field.

Is there an album or type of music that has strongly influenced your style? 
It's difficult to pin down an album that describes my style because its always evolving. Currently though, I just discovered Hitmane, who has a sound which is a mix of nostalgia meets anime meets weird. 

What are some personal style guides you try to live by?
My personal style now a days, is all about simplification. Having a few staple pieces that are simple in form but with slight exaggerations in shape - big pants with a tie around or even a high collar sleeveless top. Always playing with neutrals and blacks. 

Is there a particular place that inspires you?
The desert - I can't get over the isolation and barren landscape that deserts offer.

Can you tell us about a time that you first learned of an artist and were in awe?
Gordon Matta-Clark. He was considered an 'Anarchitect' who would go into abandoned buildings in NYC in the 90's and cut giant holes and facades away from the wall. Again, dealing with warped or new perspectives.

What's something you disliked at first, but now are into? 
I used to hate carrots and peas... Not anymore.

If anyone dead or alive could paint a portrait of you who would it be?
I would like to have my mom paint a portrait of me.

Do you have any advice for a young designer/artist trying to get into textiles?
Never stop experimenting - even beyond traditional woven/knit/printed materials. Use concrete, or melt wax, laser into plastics... Using things unconventionally in a conventional or traditional medium is when you start to get really interesting results.