October 7, 2016

Stephen Burks Exhibition at Roche Bobois Explores Handicraft Traditions

Industrial designer Stephen Burks will exhibit his recent work at the Philadelphia showroom of French furniture manufacturer Roche Bobois. The exhibit, titled Stephen Burks Man Made Collab, features a selection from Burks’s Outdoor Traveler collection for Roche Bobois and several pieces from his Man Made Material Compositions.

Stephen Burks in his studio in Williamsburg, New York. All photography courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Burks first joined forces with Roche Bobois in 2014 to design the Traveler Hooded Armchair, which explores artisanal traditions in Europe and the United States. The collaboration yielded two chairs: the European version, fashioned from fine metal tubes and woven leather straps, and an American piece with a wooden structure that nods to the material’s role as a mainstay in domestic architecture.

Chair from Stephen Burks’s Traveler Collection for Roche Bobois.

Sofa from Stephen Burks’s Traveler Collection for Roche Bobois.

The two armchairs embody themes Burks has woven, quite literally, throughout his extensive oeuvre. “I’ve always been fascinated by hybrid conditions and cultures,” explains the designer. “I think one day the whole world will be shades of brown and no longer perceived as black and white.” Burks, who has created designs for global brands including BoffiCappellini, and Dedon, received the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in 2015 for product design.

One of Stephen Burks’s Man Made Material Compositions.

Burks will also exhibit several pieces from his sculptural Man Made Material Compositions. Displayed in 2011 at the Studio Museum in Harlem—his first solo exhibition in New York—the collection draws inspiration from the artist’s collaboration with Senegalese basket weavers in New York and Dakar. “I’m trying to use industrial means to find a little space between technology and craft where something interesting can happen,” Burks says.


A photo posted by #stephenburksmanmade (@stephenburksmanmade) on

The exhibit, one of three DesignPhiladelphia events involving Burks, will be on view in the Roche Bobois showroom in downtown Philadelphia from October 7-15.

Recent DesignWire