Renowned designer Stephen Burks brings his novel vision of home furnishings to the High Museum

Traveler Outside Armchair by Stephen Burks obtainable through Roche Bobois, $6,710.

Photograph by Wedig & Laxton

The pandemic was a time of reckoning for Brooklyn-dependent industrial designer and educator Stephen Burks, as it was for quite a few. “We were pressured to reexamine who we were as persons, as a household, as a community,” he states. “We have been confronting our domestic guidelines again.”

This tension, when traumatic, begat new suggestions. Burks calls them “creative survival methods for getting forced to stay at home with your teenager and lover,” only 50 percent joking. To wit: A dialogue about reinventing the Tv as the centre of spouse and children lifetime led to his mixed media do the job Woven Television, which is a discarded flat-screen television encased in a lattice-like sculpture that viewers can adorn with mementos. It is one particular of 50 is effective introduced in Stephen Burks: Shelter in Location, on exhibit at the Superior Museum by way of March 2023. Burks is an internationally regarded designer with several honors, such as remaining the initially African American artist to earn the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Nationwide Design and style Award in Product Structure.

Woven TV
Burks and Leiper function on Woven Television set

Photograph by Caroline Tompkins

The show involves a number of rooms of Burks’s furniture and crafts, with his prior, legendary items for Dedon, Missoni, and Roche Bobois—such as his Traveler chair for the latter—mixed in with new exploratory work commissioned by the Substantial. (Roche Bobois is a present sponsor.)

Spirit Property, a person of the pandemic performs, was influenced by his feelings about grief. Burks’s son missing each maternal grandparents to Covid-19 early in 2020, when the relatives could not collect to mourn. His husband or wife, Malika Leiper, is Cambodian. “There’s a tradition in her lifestyle known as the spirit residence, about memorializing liked types by generating a incredibly intentional point out for their spirituality within just the household,” he suggests. Burks developed a fashionable model of that strategy and, for this exhibit, bundled a photograph of his pal, the late author and cultural critic bell hooks.

Spirit House
Spirit Household

Photograph by Caroline Tompkins

“Design must not be dictated by a singular place of view, these as European,” he states. “Design requires to find other ways to be inclusive. The mission of the Higher to be additional related to area communities was fascinating to me.”

For Burks, who is a cousin of Ambassador Andrew Young, Shelter in Place is about how layout can answer to up to date crises, building a sense of belonging and togetherness during moments of social upheaval. The exhibit touches on his professional apply as properly as his much more experimental types, he says. “I hope it inspires.”

This posting appears in our December 2022 issue.

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