The African-American designer Stephen Burks was born in 1969 in Chicago. He obtained degrees in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Product Design from the IIT Institute of Design. Later in New York, he attended the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning at Columbia University and founded Stephen Burks Man Made. His work focuses on creative direction and industrial design projects ranging from interiors to events, packaging, lighting, furniture and home accessories. His constant travels bring him into contact with artisans and artists globally. As a product development consultant, both independently and in conjunction with non-profit organisations (including Aid to Artisan, Nature Conservancy and the Clinton Foundation), he promotes sustainable projects that benefit local artisans in developing countries. He has always fought for African-American civil rights; his origins profoundly influence his poetics, marked by an inclusive and multicultural vision.
He collaborates with leading design companies and brands, developing collections and products for Salvatori (Neighbors, a mirror that won the Archiproducts Design Award in 2021); B&B Italia; BD Barcelona Design (Grasso armchair, 2018); Boffi (Line, 2003); Cappellini (Cappellini Love, 2008); Dedar (Roping, 2011, Finger Painting, 2017); Dedon (Dala, 2012, Dala Accessories, 2013, Ahnda, 2014, The Others, 2017 and Kida, 2020); Missoni (Patchwork, 2004); Moroso (M'Afrique, 2009); Parachilna (Anwar, 2014, Babel, 2016); Roche Bobois (The Traveller, 2014, The Traveller Outdoor, 2016, Planete, 2018); and Living Divani (Islands tables and sideboard, 2019 and 2020 respectively).
Burks holds workshops, lectures and seminars at numerous design schools worldwide. He is currently Professor of Architecture at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Burks co-hosts Friedman Benda Gallery's popular Design In Dialogue conversation series and hosts the new CBS TV series America by Design. He has served on the committee of the Cologne Furniture Fair. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums globally (Art Basel/Design Miami, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, DX Design Exchange, IMM Cologne, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, MAD Museum of Art & Design, Philadelphia Art Museum, Salone del Mobile, Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennale and Stockholm Furniture Fair). His prestigious awards include the Illinois Institute of Technology Alumni Personal Achievement Award, the Brooklyn Museum Young Modernist Award, the Architektur & Wohnen Audio Mentor Prize and the 2008 United States Artists, Architecture & Design Target Fellowship Grant. He is also the only African American to have won the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in the Product Design category.
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