Prior to setting up Central Design in 1969, Lee spent over a decade studying and working in Australia, Holland and the United Kingdom.
He originally headed to Australia to study architecture but obtained a Certificate of Art instead. Lee then headed to Amsterdam where he completed a Diploma of Advertising and Typographical Design. He next left for London to study in St Martin’s College of Art where he received a National Diploma in Design. After working for several years as an art director in London advertising agency Pritchard Wood and Associates, Lee returned to Singapore to set up his own advertising and design house.
Onw of his first assignments was to design commemorative postage stamps in 1970. “Shipping Development” became the first of his many stamp designs as Lee became one of Singapore's most well-known graphic designer. He also developed the corporate identity programme for the national carrier Singapore Airlines, expanding upon American consultant Walter Landor Associate’s logo. His firm also handled the advertising accounts for several of the likes of local modern shopping centre People’s Park Complex, Japanese consumer electronic brand Akai and the Swiss watch brand Longines.
- Chan, Kin Sang. "A Good Design Is One That’s 'Simple, Striking'”, The Straits Times, 29 January 1987.
- Tan, Abby. "A jumbo of a job for SIA artist." New Nation, 25 August 1972, 7.
- Tien, Albert. ‘Profile of a Dynamic Designer’, n.d.
- ‘廣吿及商業設計專才李秀鐫近創立中央設計公司’, 星洲日報 (Sin Chew Jit Poh), 6 October 1969
- ‘李秀鐫創設設計公司’, 南洋商报 (Nanyang Siang Pau), 6 October 1969.