The turning point in Olivia’s journey came when she started her own creative studio in 2013, called OLIVIA LEE Studio, to pursue her creative practice full-time. Previously she held a stable job at the Economic Development Board, where she managed two portfolios developing the user insights and design sectors in Singapore, with a focus in consumer-facing businesses. Olivia switched to developing an interdisciplinary design studio that has worked with numerous reputable brands. Some of her projects include designing a window installation for Hermes in 2017 that incorporates her signature whimsical touch, creating a gallery of striking absurdist scenes. She has also worked with other collaborators such as Bynd Artisan, Bank of Singapore, and Temasek Holdings. Olivia’s work can be best described as combining design with fantastical elements. Fascinated with poetry, philosophy, and narratives, Olivia aims to inject these elements into her work, to create inspiring and desirable designs that goes beyond fulfilling a formulaic function.
Window scenography for the esteemed house of Hermès depicting a whimsical retelling of how things are made. Photo credits: Studio Periphery
Her critically acclaimed Athena Collection is a smart home concept that prioritises the warmth of materiality, over cold technological gimmicks. It reimagines analogue furniture catered to modern day digital habits, proposing that is possible to honour traditional craftsmanship while embracing the future. Debuted at the Salone del Mobile Milano furniture exhibition, Olivia brought the Athena Collection forward as her statement to the world, a representation of her ideals and philosophy towards design - forward-thinking design in the style of a romantic futurist. With speculative design projects such as this one, Olivia believes it is important to find the right tone and balance of believable and probable futures that are reflected in the design. Pushing designs too far into the absurdist realm may lose your audience as they grow sceptical of its practical use, and begin to treat the work as fantasy rather than a work of speculative future realities. The Collection, which includes a dressing table with built-in flattering lighting for selfies, and a carpet with tactile details and borders to distinguish virtual and physical space, represents design and technology for the contemporary woman. It shows how a woman can be ambitious, savvy, and have a lot of technological know-how, but also be warm, tactile, rich, and beautiful.