Stephen Burks, Roping Stool, designed 2011, this example made 2017
New York-based designer Stephen Burks is known internationally for his innovative synthesis of industrial manufacturing and hand-made craft traditions, often gleaned through partnerships with artisans in developing countries. Roping Stool is a collaboration with Italian fabric house Dedar Milano’s co-creative directors, brother and sister Caterina and Raffaele Fabrizio. The stool features Manila rope dipped at its base in black rubber, and wrapped in brightly-colored patterned fabric. By sourcing Manila rope—from the abacá plant native to the Philippines—and working with an established high-end brand, Burks allies raw material and artisanal craftsmanship, with functionality, luxury, and modern technology.
Burks is the first African American recipient of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Product Design (in 2015), and the first industrial designer to have a solo exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem (in 2011). Born in Chicago’s South Side, Burks studied product design at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design, and architecture at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture.
I have a very Modernist background. I never thought there would be this substantial return to the hand for me. It’s interesting that my Modernist background allows me to mix high and low ways of making for mass and luxury, while still remaining culturally connected.Stephen Burks
Designing By Hand, From France to Peru. A/D/O Designer-in-Residence Stephen Burks Envisions Design as a Cultural Bridge.” The A/D/O Journal. May 30, 2017.
Stephen Burks, Man Made. New York: The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2011.
Moreno, Shonquis. “Man of the World.” American Craft (Aug/Sept 2014): 44-49.
Post, Rachael. “Stephen Burks on DIY-Meets-Luxury and Sustainable Design.” The Guardian. August 28, 2014.