Born to Vietnamese refugees, Bao-Khang Luu grew up in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southwest of the US as his parents chased the American dream. Out of necessity, his father repaired and created things the family needed. Only later in life did Bao appreciate the perspective required to build and cherish the ersatz. Design education in creative material usage revealed the innate possibilities of everyday things.
He obtained a BFA in Design from UT Austin, an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons, and a certification in Sustainable Entrepreneurship from FIT. He worked in NYC's Silicon Alley before meeting his husband and moving to Europe. With the encouragement of a gallerist, he pursued his lifelong dream of becoming an artist.
His practice has spanned the realms of dance, installation, interactive technology, and traditional media. He has garnered national television appearances (The Nate Berkus Show, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Flea Market Flip) and media buzz (Surface, Inhabitat, Apartment Therapy) for his approach to upcycling in home decor.
He currently resides in San Francisco with his husband and son after relocating from the Swiss Alps.
The inherent beauty and intrinsic value of everyday things underlie my work. In each series, I create links to a specific place, time, and memory.
Formally, my pieces employ patterns. They require enormous amounts of repetitive and physically daunting manual labor. Control and processes loom large.
In the first part of my creative process, I collect two things: memories and materials. I stay in a place, experience it, and connect to it. When I walk around, I scan the environment, look at the ground, and gather things. By collecting, cleaning, sorting, storing, and arranging materials, I imbue them with more value. I store my finds for years before they are used.
The second part of my creative process matches form and meaning. I hashed out ideas in my sketchbook. It requires multiple rounds of sketches and prototypes to refine a visual approach. The material itself holds significance even before it’s manipulated. I think about semiotics throughout the creative process, sometimes long after a piece is physically finished. I refine logic and meaning by writing, which I do concurrently with my investigations of form.
Ostensibly, my work does not appear moralizing or political, but it draws from the wells of sustainability and the LGBTQ+ experience. Pleasant visuals provide the vehicle for metaphors and hidden meanings. I aim to surprise and delight viewers while shifting perceptions of value.