Stephen Burks

"Looking at Africa through the eyes of contemporary art, photography, architecture, and design is perhaps the most appropriate way of approaching this vast continent, so creatively rich and diverse that today it is still one of Western modernity's greatest sources of inspiration."

Stephen Burks is both a traveller and a designer. For a decade, "the first African-American to make an impression on the rarefied world of international industrial design" has dedidacted his work to building a bridge between authentic craft traditions, industrial manufacturing, and contemporary design.

Stephen studied at Chicago's New Bauhaus (now the Illinois Institute of Technology Institute of Design). He absorbed and then emulated that school's Modernist sensibility. Now, Burks would like to see "a return to ther hand" - or handmade products - in the world of high-end design, a hybrid of "high" and "low" design that more deeply that more deeply considers the social and cultural implications of making things.

With his New York-based studio, Stephen Burks Man Made, Burks has produced innovative products, furniture, lighting, and exhibitions for a range of international clients including B&B Italia, Boffi, Capellini, Dedar, Dedon, Harry Winston, Missoni, Moroso, Roche Bobois, Swarovski, and Parachilna.

Stephen Burks' Babel Suspension Lamps for Parachilna

Since 2005, Stephen has also consulted with non-profits including Aid to Artisans, the Clinton Global Initiative, Design Network Africa, Artesanias de Columbia, and the Nature Conservancy - uniting the artisan, the designer, and global brands in a triangle of immersive development.

Stephen has exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Arts and Design, as well as receiving numerous accolades including the Illinois Institute of Technology Alumni Professional Achievement Award, the Brooklyn Museum Young Modernist Award, the Architektur & Wohnen Audi Mentor Prize, the 2008 United States Artists Architecture & Design Target Fellowship Grant, and the 2015 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award.


Discover Stephen Burks' Lights