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Female Founder Series Featuring Sharon Lee, CEO & Founder of Krane Home

A Korean-American fine artist turned entrepreneur, Sharon Lee shares more about the inspiration and heritage behind Krane Home.
Female Founder Series Featuring Sharon Lee, CEO & Founder of Krane Home

About Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee is a Korean-American fine artist and interior designer.  She founded Krane Home in 2012, a home decor company with products created from her paintings inspired by Korean art. Groomed as an artist from a young age to continue her grandfather's and mother's legacy, she has a B.A. in Fine Art from UCLA and a Masters of Interior Architecture from UCLA/Cal Poly. 

SENREVE is excited to partner with Sharon and Krane Home as part of our Selected by SENREVE series, featuring Krane Home Banana Leaf pillows and Painted Wave napkins directly here on our site.  We spoke with her recently to learn more about her journey to founding Krane Home and the meaning behind her designs.  Read on to learn more about Sharon and her Korean heritage-inspired home decor brand.

Krane Home Banana Leaf PillowKrane Home Banana Leaf Pillow in Navy

Tell us about more about your journey to founding Krane Home - what was your inspiration for transforming your art into home pieces?
My journey to founding Krane Home technically starts from my childhood years. My grandfather taught me how to draw, and my mother is a Korean folk art painter. She uses traditional techniques to replicate ancient works, such as grinding down roots and shells to create natural pigment. They both encouraged me to become an artist from a young age, and that’s how I developed my passion for art. I landed at  UCLA art school, where I studied painting and photography. 

After graduating, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on, so I dabbled in different mediums of art. It wasn’t until I started working as an interior designer Michael S. Smith, an acclaimed designer who decorated the White House for the Obamas, that I really discovered my interest in textile design as an art form. I was exposed to all the unique materials used in high-end interior design projects but quickly realized the lack of representation of Korean-inspired decor. I didn’t feel that the beauty of Korean art was truly being appreciated in the home. I knew this was an opportunity to introduce Korean art into American homes.

I started with wallpaper, which, ironically was not as trendy back then in 2012 as it is today. I still felt strongly about wallpaper as it’s the most direct translation of a painting into home decor.

I officially launched Krane Home in 2013. Eventually, our products were in 10-12 interior design showrooms nationwide. As we grew our product categories, I noticed growing frustration amongst our clients who wanted to purchase both art and decor from us for their home. My art was sold through our studio and the Four Seasons, the wallpaper and fabric from a showroom, pillows might need to be transferred from another showroom. Through the showroom model, a customer had to purchase from up to 3 different places to decorate her home with Krane Home art, wallpaper, fabric and accessories depending on where they live. We needed to make it easy for the client who loves Krane Home to deck out her home in our products from one place, and checkout one time

So, I made a plan to pivot to the direct-to-consumer model. It took one whole year of development, but I finally ‘relaunched’ in January with a brand new website (our ‘virtual showroom’) that gave customers direct access to my whole collection as a one stop shopping destination. We offer a complimentary 30-minute interior design consultation to offer advice on something as simple as which pillows to buy for their sofa to guidance on what  to spend your money  on to get the most impact with your redecorating budget.

My goal is to become the destination home decor brand for color, pattern, and art. I truly believe a beautifully decorated space can be so healing, and now that we are all at home more due to COVID, I think people are realizing how important their home decor is for their mental health and well-being.

Krane Home WallpaperNursery featuring wallpaper from Krane Home and Sharon’s original art

Could you speak more about your passion for art and how your grandfather and mother influenced/inspired you?  Are there specific patterns or pieces that are inspired by your Korean heritage?
The name Krane Home is inspired by the crane bird, which actually symbolizes longevity in Korean art. I wanted to create a company that was timeless, I spell Krane with a ‘K’ to pay homage to the Korean heritage of the brand. Everything in our line is auspicious or beneficial for the homeowner, based on ancient Korean art history. For example, the tiger appears in a lot of different prints. In ancient Korea, the Tiger was seen as a really powerful symbol that warded off evil spirits and protected the family from danger. The Peony flower symbolizes abundance and prosperity. The Banana Leaf and all plants symbolize vitality, green and lucious. The Painted Wave comes from a famous Korean painting that features stylized water as the backdrop for the ancient king. The Krane Home Painted Wave is a modern version of that stylized water, which I created with my paintbrush. Our designs and patterns are meant to be universally appealing, with a rich story and history behind them.

Krane Home Monkey and Tiger Pattern NapkinsNapkins featuring a monkey and tiger pattern that Sharon created for Krane Home

Krane Home Painted Wave Napkins
Krane Home Painted Wave Napkins in Lake

You work with a lot of different mediums and are passionate about bringing the authenticity of Korean artforms to consumers. How is this incorporated into your art as well as Krane Home products? 
As part of our collection at Krane Home, which includes wallpaper, fabric, home decor such as pillows and napkins, and baby items, I also have my original art pieces.  So for my art, my main technique is woodblock printing which allows for a repetition of imagery to show the passage of time.  I do a lot of dawn and dusk paintings and paint over the block print with glosch or tempra paint.  I often add 24K gold leaf or 24K white gold leaf and then all of my paintings are lacquered with a traditional Asian lacquer.

For our home decor products and fabric, everything is hand-printed and hand-made with the highest grade of materials that you can find.  We work with several printers based on who is the best in the world at that particular type of printing.  We use a different printer for grass cloth, cotton, and linen.  I am very dedicated to bringing that level of craftsmanship and quality to the customer at a price point that is fair.

Table Setting featuring Krane HomeTable setting featuring Krane Home’s Gingham Jungle pattern in Lapis

Our brand was built on the brand pillars of empowering “women to do it all.” What does being a “woman who does it all” look like for you as a female founder, an artist, and a designer?
I love that philosophy. Sometimes, I feel that I did it all at once! I started Krane Home, got married, and had two kids right away, all in quick succession. I always look for easy ideas and ways to make life easier, such as picking outfits that are refined but still easy to wear or wearing a scarf to accessorize my hair. It can be really hard day-to-day, owning a company as well as being a parent.  That’s why I really wanted to make home decor easily accessible through Krane Home. A few pillows to refresh a space really can make a difference and do so much for our well-being and mood.

Krane Home Pillow and Chair
Chair and pillow featuring Krane Home fabrics in Pained Wave and Banana Leaf

What’s your advice to someone who is revamping their home? What kind of styling tips do you recommend? 
My top tip as a designer is to not be afraid of repetition.  Don’t be afraid of cycling through the same print.  It helps your eye cycle around the room so repetition of color and pattern is a good thing throughout a room.  If you are really looking for a key, staple decor piece, the biggest way to transform your space is wallpaper.  It’s not as difficult as it sounds.  It’s easy to get installed and there are a lot of creative ways to use it, whether on the backs of your bookshelves or on one accent wall. 

Krane Home Wallpaper and Pillows
Wallpaper, curtains, and a pillow, all featuring Krane Home’s Gingham Jungle pattern in Jade 

**All photos courtesy of Krane Home

We love Sharon’s passion for art and her Korean heritage and are honored to have her as a Selected by SENREVE partner.  After hearing her tips, we are eager to refresh our homes with Krane Home decor.  How about you? Which Krane Home print and color do you love the most? Leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

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