Stephen Burks

U.S.A. (1969)
When Chicago-native Stephen Burks decided to pursue a career in design, he applied to just one school – the Illinois Institute of Technology – because he wanted to study in IIT’s Crown Hall, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. After finishing at IIT’s Institute of Design, followed by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, and then several years living in Tokyo and Milan, he returned to the U.S. and founded his New York studio in 1997.

Three years later, his big break came when Italian manufacturer Cappellini put his first pieces into production. A collection for Missoni soon followed, and then in 2005, Burks was invited to South Africa by the non-profit Aid To Artisans and the design brand Artecnica to help local craftspeople develop commercially viable products using their traditional craft skills. Burk and these artisans created a collection of tables that successfully launched at the 2007 Salone del Mobile in Milan.

Since then, Burks has continued to champion design that is inclusive of all cultural perspectives by collaborating with hundreds of artisans in more than 20 countries. Commissions with B&B Italia, Calvin Klein, Harry Winston, Matter Made, Roche Bobois and others, as well as his own Man Made project, engage hand production as a strategy for innovation and bridging the gap between authentic developing world production, industrial manufacturing, and contemporary design.

In 2019, Stephen became the first Harvard Loeb Fellow from the discipline of product design and is currently Design Critic in the Masters of Design Engineering program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, as well as an Expert-In-Residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab.
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