Eunice Yunjeong Lee: A Journey into Exhibition Design

Photography by Daniel Salemi. Images courtesy of the Museum of Sex.

Under the influence of studying communication design, talented artist Eunice Yunjeong Lee was fascinated by how design goes beyond the visual dimension affecting the space that people are located in. Lee utilizes exhibitions as a creative approach that conveys artists’ work and ideology and is really enjoying being involved in the process of designing. She now works as an exhibition designer at the Museum of Sex, presenting great exhibition designs to New York City with passion and creativity. 

Q: When and why did you decide to study design and become a designer?  

A: I’ve loved going to exhibitions since I was young. I spent my time wandering around  museums all by myself. Rather than liking the artwork, I liked the exhibition hall where the artworks were displayed, and the museum space itself. I felt like the space was out of the ordinary, making me focus on the artwork and feel completely detached from the outside world even though it lacked some realistic elements since the space was filled entirely by artists. Thus, I became interested in art overall, and in many areas of art—fine art, photography, graphic design, etc. When I put it all together, the most interesting parts were the exhibition and the spatial design.

(Take Me to the River by Anne Finkelstein, virtual exhibit project by Eunice Yunjeong Lee, Courtesy of the Artist)

Q: What made you decide to work at Museum of Sex in the first place?  

A: Museum of Sex is a very ordinary, designer-wide company where artists can do a variety of things. Working as an interior exhibition designer, there were lots of different paths for me to choose such as lessons based upon events, exhibitions, graphic design, and art overall. But I always found myself going in one direction and then choosing another path as I turned around. And Museum of Sex has solved that problem for me. It can now do permanent exhibitions, temporary exhibits, stage design, retail advertisement, and even space designs and branding projects. And I’m actually working on all of them. I am very happy with the projects that I’ve been involved in.

Q: How would you evaluate your contribution to the museum and people’s understandings of sex?

A: I am simply focusing on fulfilling my responsibilities as an exhibition designer and presenting the subject of sex honestly and beautifully so that I can ensure the content that I’m delivering is of good quality. My goal is to make a design that is appealing enough to catch people’s attention disregarding the erotic elements. Once the foundation is established, those elements are the key part that makes the design more on-brand and rich. We care a lot about the design at Museum of Sex so that people are less reluctant to accept sex. Along with visuals of Museum of Sex, when it comes to designing an exhibit, members of the outstanding curatorial team at Museum of Sex and I as an exhibition designer care a lot about the design and coordination so that people are less reluctant to accept sex.

(F*ck Art: The Body & Its Absence Exhibition Design, photo by Daniel Salemi; all rights reserved by Museum of Sex)

Q: What do you think is the biggest difference among pop-up events, regular exhibitions, and product displays?

A: Firstly, I think they all have pretty much the same goal—publicity. Pop-ups focus on merchandise or brands. Exhibitions focus on artists and their work while product displays are presenting a commodity. But eventually they’re all promoting their brand. But I do think there is a huge difference in the way that is accomplished. Pop-ups are largely branding, so brand logos and slogans should receive a great deal of exposure. In the case of an exhibition, even the smallest details need to be fine-tuned to identify and convey the artist’s intentions. The consideration of the audience and the attentiveness to the visitors are also essential. As for product displays, I believe the focus is using scale to enlarge the product model or using media to decorate the stage for the product since the product itself really needs to stand out. 

Q: Do you seek your inspiration somewhere in real life or adopt personal approaches that are related to your own understanding/experience?  

A: Most of my inspiration comes from my daily life. I go to see exhibitions in New York City on weekends even if sometimes the exhibition theme is not related to my field of interest. I am very positively influenced by their expressions—architecture, sculpture, and graphic design. I would record a lot of the things that are placed in front of me. And I feel very satisfied the moment when I capture them. I enjoy the process of expanding on the beginning of the narratives in the scenes.