Born in Jiang Nan, an ancient city in the Yangtze Delta with a rich cultural history going back thousands of years, James Lee realised at a young age that he would form an unusual bond with art. From a childhood spent in quaint Chinese courtyards where intimacy and nature collide, he learned from a family with a deep appreciation of the visual world how space informs informed memories. It was here that he first embraced the unrushed sense of serendipity, indulged himself into recognising intelligent design and spot the meaningful in the invisible, while creating a vision for the future that pays homage to the past.
After completing his undergraduate studies, James went on to pursue a masters in interior design at the Chelsea College of Arts in London. His work has been widely praised and he was honoured with the prestigious “Asia Pacific Design Award” in 2002, while still in his 20s.
James has worked in the Asia-Pacific hotel design industry for more than 20 years, holding prominent positions at such renowned design firms as Chhada Siembieda & Associates and Hirsch Bedner & Associates. At HBA he worked in the Hong Kong and Melbourne offices as project director and design director leading a multicultural international design team. Among his most notable high-end projects are a partnership with Banyan Tree Holdings, Okura Hotels & Resorts, Shangri-La Group and Marriott hotel Group, to name a few.
In 2014, James began the most recent chapter of his distinguished career, founding L’Avventura & Associates as a platform to bring together boutique designers from around the world as partners on Chinese projects. He also founded sister company Lavven as a trading platform for Chinese designers to purchase global accessories directly online. It is through these two channels that he is expanding his philosophy of finding the right talent to express the soul of a creative brief. He has recently been exploring potential collaborations with design greats such as Kelly Hoppen and Michael Young in a spirit of serendipitous discovery.
On top of all this, James also holds a great passion of nurturing the younger generation and serves as professor at the Asia Pacific Hotel Design Association.
Ilija’s relationship with interior design began 20 years ago, after reading about the Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong a hotel designed by Hirsch Bedner that epitomised and defined luxury hotel design. With an international portfolio and an understanding of the rapidly growing Asia Pacific region, Ilija spent 11 years leading his team to the success it is renowned for today. Melbourne is Ilija’s birthplace and a city that he proudly calls “home”.