Meet Krane, the Korean-American Owned Shop Filled With Vision and Intention

Krane Home Wallpaper

 The Spruce / Illustration by Amy Sheehan / Courtesy of Krane

Home Away From Home is a series that spotlights BIPOC brands that are adding a cultural essence to everyday items. This allows anyone to always have a piece of their culture in their own space without ever feeling homesick or out of touch with their roots. We're exploring the stories of the individuals behind the brands that have touched people's hearts through their products and have allowed people to feel at home anywhere.

Sharon Lee comes from a lineage of skilled artists who have preserved Korean folk art techniques and symbolism. She knew it was her own personal destiny from a young age to continue the tradition—but in her own creative way. Lee, a Korean-American fine artist and interior designer, created Krane Home as a means to share Korean art through her own unique artistic interpretations of animals and nature.

Lee thoughtfully curates each of her products by creating meaning in every detail that's drawn, so it feels both personal to the client who is hanging up her artwork and the room that's surrounded by her ornate wallpaper. Not only is she sharing the beauty of Korean folk art—she is teaching others to design with intention.

How Did You Get Into Art and Design?

SL: My mother and grandfather are Korean artists—my mother is an accredited Korean folk art painter in Korea. Her pieces have become family heirlooms—she does not sell them because they take so long, and they're actually keeping the ancient techniques of Korean folk art alive. All of the paintings she does are reproductions of ancient pieces.

It's done exactly the same way as it was done hundreds of years ago during the Joseon Dynasty. For example, she grinds her ink on an ink stone, crumbles up seashells for white color, and makes orange-yellow from a petrified root.

krane home wallpaper

Courtesy of Krane Home / Photographed by Young Huh

I grew up being around her painting, and my grandfather taught me how to draw and paint—they always knew I would become an artist because that was just the plan for me. I would be sent to compete in a bunch of art contests at a young age and even had a Disney animator come over to my home and tutor me. I got into UCLA Art School, but the program ended up being super conceptual which wasn't something I wanted to do. I wanted to create beautiful art for homes and families to live in the same way they did back in ancient times.

What Inspired You to Create Krane?

SL: I attended a gallery and I noticed that there was so much Japanese and Chinese-inspired decor, art, textiles, and wallpaper, but honestly, nothing Korean. I was so shocked—I really thought, "wow, everyone needs to know about how beautiful Korean art is—how unique it is." Especially when it comes to Korean folk art, it's incredible because there are all these different symbolism behind all of the things that are painted. There are symbols of longevity, immortality, and so much more—they're all aspirational that are constantly painted with and I wanted to share that. I wanted to share a story through my art.

sharon lee with her krane home wallpaper

Courtesy of Krane Home / Photographed by Monika Normand

Could You Explain Your Creation Process?

SL: I work with different themes that are really soaked in meaning and history—I just love researching all kinds of things like that. I'm also a big fan of animals and nature. For instance, when a couple commissions a painting, I'll ask them their story and some questions to get a better idea of what to create. For example, where did they meet, where have they lived, where do they live and what are they looking for in a painting, and where are they currently in life?

krane home dark blue wallpaper

Courtesy of Krane Home / Photographed by Karyn Millet 

I did a commission for a couple who were engaged and were about to get married. They had bought a house and wanted a painting for their living room, right above the fireplace. So I said, "well, hey, why don't we do a pair of butterflies?" Since butterflies symbolize harmony in a marriage, I chose a species of butterflies that migrate between California and Colorado because they met in Boulder and now live in Santa Monica.

The mountains that I did are the exact replica of the Flatiron Mountains in Boulder. And then on the bottom, there are poppies that symbolize feminine beauty and abundance together. I love to do this on every single thing on a painting, so it's not random, and completely thought out. I really try to create a piece that's special for the client so it becomes something they keep forever.

Why Did You Decide on Wallpaper?

SL: The reason why I started with wallpaper, to be honest, was because I was thinking about what would be a product that would most closely resemble a flat painting on a wall. I wanted to reproduce my art in a way that wasn't just a print, but a product for the home. And for me, wallpaper was the most direct translation of my art onto the surface of the home because it changed on the same plane on the wall. It's flat and smooth—it can show off the pattern the best.

Walk Me Through the Way You Design a Space With Your Wallpaper

SL: My work comes from the vision of the entire space. If you're going to have a sophisticated-feeling room, that room is gonna have layers of meaning, which means it needs to be thought out. You have to think, "how can I create a room and layer it in a way that looks sophisticated?" And to me, each element is not the star. The wallpaper is not the star. The painting is not us. Everything works in concert, right? Like a symphony orchestra—each person plays a role. Nobody in the symphony is the star. Everything has to fall into the background a little and work together.

For me, none of my patterns have black outlines, like my flowers or even my monkeys or tigers because I want them to all blend. When you look at it from far away, it just blends into the landscape of the room. It's important for me to remember that.

krane home tigers wallpaper

Courtesy of Krane Home / Photographed by Nicole Gordon

You have to have intention. You have to have a vision. I create my home decor line for homeowners directly, but I'm also creating them for the designers that are putting rooms together.

How Do You Create Your Patterns?

SL: I've created each product to be as versatile as possible in the Krane home line. When I'm creating each pattern, I want it to be as interesting as possible, easy to layer with, have texture, and not overpowering, ever.

You have to have intention. You have to have a vision. I create my home decor line for homeowners directly, but I'm also creating them for the designers that are putting rooms together. Whether it be modern, traditional, or funky, my wallpapers go with so many different types of rooms.