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Trend Stage: Interview with Joon-Mo Lee

4 May 2021

Joon-Mo Lee

Joon-Mo Lee, Managing director of Phoenix Design

As managing director of Phoenix Design, Joon-Mo Lee heads one of the most renowned design studios in Germany. At interzum @home on May 5, he will give a lecture on the changing concept of home. Under the title Wellbeing: Home beyond comfort, he will show on the digital Trend Stage how we can overcome our own comfort zone and open ourselves to sustainable innovations. We spoke to him about the content of his lecture and the impact of the Corona pandemic on the home.

In your lecture you will talk about wellbeing – what can design contribute to this?

How our futures will be lived amidst physical, digital and experiential products all depends on designers. Their intention decides whether realities will be populated with far-sighted products that actually lead to richer lives, or whether resources are spent to create just ‘more stuff’ exclusively designed to generate revenue, and possibly unknown risks down the road. Design for wellbeing means committing industrial efforts to putting people first. The critical contribution that designers make for wellbeing are therefore their candour, courage and tenacity in convincing decision makers to pursue innovations that will literally earn consumer love, not by force of marketing fantasies but sustainable value for people’s realities.

Design for wellbeing means committing industrial efforts to putting people first.

How can wellbeing be measured?

It can’t, the same way you can’t precisely measure concepts such as beauty, dignity or happiness. All these notions are highly subjective, internalised sentiments depending on differing personal perceptions and cultural contexts. However, while not accurate in measuring wellbeing, I do believe data and insights produced through scientific enquiry and design research will indicate conditions and mechanisms that can inspire new products to make people’s existence richer, more dignified and more fulfilling. Ultimately, the effectiveness of such products can be measured, of course: in the number of people attesting reduced suffering and improved lives.

© Phoenix Design

© Phoenix Design

What do you mean by "Home beyond comfort“?

The title ‘home beyond comfort’ plays with two key ideas. On the one hand, I wanted to make clear that we must start understanding the idea of ‘home’ as being more than just a place of comfort. From managing digital lifestyles to supporting their desire for self-realisation, today’s consumers have many other expectations towards what a modern home should do to help them feel well, hence ‘beyond comfort’. On the other hand, the title refers to the idiom ‘outside your comfort zone’. Innovation occurs when we allow ourselves to move beyond the comfort zone of our industrial expertise. For if we don’t, we can’t generate new perspectives, and will simply end up creating more of the same. It’s not expertise that inspires innovation, but courage to leave the confines of what we already know.

The key thought that the pandemic brought to the fore is definitely the notion of transition.

What are new requirements for the home especially against the background of the Corona pandemic?

The key thought that the pandemic brought to the fore is definitely the notion of transition. In one sense, transition is about entering and exiting multiple activities in one space. With so many being confined to home, spaces that were intended by planners to fulfil specific functions are now being repurposed. People work at dining tables, craft in their kitchens and exercise in their bedrooms. These situations are often sorry compromises that scream for clever innovations that help transform spaces. And in another sense, transition is about designing experiences that manage the transit between the contaminated outside world and the virus-free-zone of our home. Spaces like entrance halls will become ‘airlocks’ that help us to either prepare for or keep out invisible threats. I can easily imagine a proliferation of domestic innovations ranging from disinfection solutions for hands, clothes and accessories to new ways of meeting delivery services at your door. Homes have always been about protection from evil, and the Corona Pandemic, so it seems, has reinvigorated this narrative.

The digital talk by Joon-Mo Lee will take place on May 5, at 10 a.m., on the Trend Stage .