Stephen is one of the most recognized American industrial designers of his generation. Independently and through association with the non-profits Aid To Artisans, Artesanias de Colombia, the Clinton Global Initiative, Design Network Africa and the Nature Conservancy, Stephen has worked as a product development consultant in Australia, Colombia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal. Stephen believes in a pluralistic vision of design that is inclusive of all cultural perspectives. His Man Made project bridges the gap between authentic developing world production, industrial manufacturing and contemporary design.
In 2011, Stephen had two museum exhibitions in New York City. ‘Stephen Burks Man Made’, his first solo New York museum show, opened at the Studio Museum of Harlem in March 2011 and ‘Stephen Burks Are You A Hybrid’, his first curatorial project, opened at the Museum of Art & Design.
On the occasion of The Armory Show, Stephen Burks, presented NOIR, a limited edition series of locally produced handmade pendant lamps. NOIR is a reference to the absence of light – a creative space where anything is possible. At the core of Burks’ design vision is his unique process of building a bridge between authentic craft traditions, industrial manufacturing and contemporary design. This curated presentation was inspired by the 2016 Armory Focus which this year highlights the artistic practices of contemporary artists of Africa and the diaspora. The solo project was co-curated by Maria Cristina Didero and presented by Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.
He is a recipient of the Illinois Institute of Technology Alumni Professional Achievement Award, the Brooklyn Museum Young Modernist Award, the Architektur & Wohnen Audi Mentor Prize and the 2008 United States Artists Architecture & Design Target Fellowship Grant.
Stephen Burks is the 2015 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award winner in Product Design.