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Symbol of Our Times - The Athena Collection by Olivia Lee


Symbol of Our Times  - The Athena Collection by Olivia Lee
The Athena Collection by Olivia Lee

At first glance, Olivia Lee's debut collection at SaloneSatallite - a platform dedicated to young designers in Milan's Salone Del Mobile - has a lot going for her: the very current colour trend of millennial pink and emerald green, and the classic materials of brass and copper. However, this collection is not just about furniture designing. To the Singaporean designer, the collection was a tribute to coincide with the uprising of technology in our home.

Under the umbrella concept of "Where Athena Lives", "The Athena Collection" consists of the ALTAR vanity set, SCEPTRES table accessories, EMBLEM Wall Grid System, DAIS Tray Tables and a carpet named ARENA. All in all, a perfect representation of her ability as an industrial designer, pivoting from product to spatial design, research insights to ideation.

The ALTAR vanity set is the beauty and communication focal point of the bedroom. The ring light provides balanced illumination for grooming, teleconferencing or a discrete photo booth.

SCEPTRES is a set of interchangeable table accessories for technology and beauty rituals, functioning independently as table objects or as extensions for ALTAR.

Being an alumnus of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Olivia Lee of course was no stranger to the design scenes of Salone del Mobile - the biggest furniture design event in the world held annually in April. As a matter of fact, we first spotted her "Instruments of Beauty (Divine Tools)" back in 2015 when it was presented  with the group show 'The Alchemists' and it immediately reminded us not only of our good old school years with math, calculation and golden ratio, but also the dedication she has in executing a noble concept.

“The Athena Collection” wonderfully reflects these design interests and more broadly reflects many of the areas I continue to explore through my practice.

The same goes for this collection. "Imagine if the ancient Greek goddess of knowledge and war, and by extension a goddess of technology lives in this era, " she explained, "What would Athena make of the world we live in today, our adoration of new media or fetish with the Internet of Things? What new rituals and habits would she sanction?"

ARENA is a carpet with tactile details and borders to demarcate virtual and physical space. While virtual entertainment becomes a norm, tangible objects and surfaces of the home continue to obstruct and work against the virtual experience.

EMBLEM: A multi-functional wall grid with storage, acoustic buffering and temporary seating.

And so, after lifting the veil of trends and materials, you'll see that "The Athena Collection" is actually a smart home concept that prioritises materiality and reimagines analog objects for digital habits: from a vanity set & table accessories that maximize the selfie experience, a carpet that's catered for Virtual Reality users, to trays and a multi-functional wall grid system perfect during down time - the "Athena" Collection is truly and will definitely be the symbols of our time.

3 Questions with Olivia Lee

What's your design philosophy and how did that tie in with this collection?

I believe in cross-pollination, the intersection of fields, unlikely pairings and the convergence of disciplines. I love art and science. I am fascinated by universal principles and concepts of the divine. I love telling a good story, especially when it is completely made up. I love how fiction informs the future. Tradition and technology inspire me. In much of my work, I enjoy sliding along a spectrum of contradictions and building a world around the things I create. “The Athena Collection” wonderfully reflects these design interests and more broadly reflects many of the areas I continue to explore through my practice.

What is the biggest challenge in creating this collection?

The biggest challenge was finding a way to make a conceptual and speculative design collection that was also relatable and immediately relevant. In the pursuit of presenting a futuristic vision, there is a danger of presenting so hypothetical that the audience cannot meaningfully apply it in their life. My goal in “The Athena Collection” was to present system of beautiful furniture that also had something important to say about how our lives are changing because of technology.

What's next for The Athena collection?

There has been a lot of interest in The Athena Collection as well as the studio. I'm always working on a multitude of things including taking this collection forward. It seems the cross between technology and furniture has struck a chord with people, so I will continue to build on this exploration.


For more on Olivia Lee's work, visit:

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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