Jaehyeok (Jacob) Lee believes that design is the process of balancing experiences and technologies for cultural evolution. Growing up in Korea, it was a family illness that led to his pursuit of design and in this deep interest in helping people through design. He says, “When my brother got sick, I felt frustrated and helpless in an ominous environment during his two-year stay in hospital. It inspired me to think deeply about the role of a designer. I strongly felt the clashes between functional and emotional design. This experience was an eye-opening moment to first become interested in ‘design power’, leading me to think more about a better quality of life for everyone.” At the Seoul National University of Science and Technology, he majored in metal craft and focused on craftsmanship and the culture of things, and he is passionate about universal design and inclusive design by combining design thinking with craftsmanship.
Jaehyeok’s tries to include the principles of universal design into his work wherever possible. He shares that the OXO’s Good Grip product line is a clear example of his own personal design philosophy. “I was greatly impressed by the fact that this company's philosophy started with love, not just function. They are perfectly using design thinking within their products and companies, and every project starts with a love for humans and a deep empathy. I'm sure that their method of design goes beyond improved products and creates a better culture.”
Based on the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of disability as "an incongruity of human interaction", Jaehyeok feels the responsibility of a designer is to create environmental conditions that will harmonize with people. He continues, “I'm trying to keep the focus of design on humans and culture, not objects. I want to transform the discriminatory culture created by products born into a material society into an inclusive culture. Ultimately, I'm going to design a product culture where everyone can share the least inconvenience, not just a product that's convenient for certain people.”