For nearly twenty years, industrial designer Stephen Burks has forged a unique path by finding opportunities for innovation in the space between handcraft and industry, which has become a hallmark of his practice. Burks and his studio Stephen Burks Man Made have collaborated with artisans and craftspeople all over the globe, from Senegal and South Africa to Peru and the Philippines, to develop collections that creatively synthesize handcraft traditions with industrial production. Guiding Burks’s approach is his underlying belief that design should be inclusive of all cultural perspectives and backgrounds.
Stephen Burks: Shelter in Place surveys the past ten years of Burks’s craft-centered, workshop-based design practice and features a specially commissioned speculative project, called Shelter in Place. In the wake of several global crises, ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to climate change and racial inequality, Burks and his studio responded by reconceiving our domestic spaces and posing the question, “How can we design our domestic interiors to enable joyful living while empowering our creativity?”
Stephen Burks Man Made developed five prototypes that explore radical ideas regarding design’s relationship to our spirituality, homes, and communities. This exhibition brings together these prototypes along with several other facets of Stephen Burks’s practice, including award-winning contemporary furniture, key products, and craft-related experiments.
Stephen Burks is the recipient of the 2023 Design Excellence Award, which is issued by Collab, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s affiliate group for modern and contemporary design. He is the first African American designer to receive this award.