Having grown up surrounded by basketry and woven grass products I do feel a deep connection to the tradition; marveling at the patterns and the way the long grass stalks can be transformed into beautiful functional products. So immediately fell in love with the woven light fittings from New York-based industrial designer Stephen Burks. So stunning, so contemporary; I just love the colours and the ingenious designs that celebrate the basket weaving traditions seen across the continent and show that far from being confined to the past, basketry is continuing to evolve into a contemporary art form. Produced in collaboration with Senegalese basket weavers based in New York and Dakar, the handmade pendants were made with materials including sweet grass and formed part of Stephen Burks first solo exhibition entitled ‘Man Made’, which was presented in 2011 at The Studio Museum in Harlem and saw the basket weaving techniques also applied to lamps, tables and chairs. The exhibition also featured collaborations with artisans in South Africa, Peru and India.
Committed to sustainable design Stephen works to connect culture and traditional craft techniques with contemporary functionality, and creates objects that are designed for the user to take pleasure in, and gain an appreciation of what is made by hand. Stephen established his studio; ReadyMade Projects in 1997 exploring innovative ways to reduce the divide between the developed world’s manufactured luxury and the heritage in handmade crafts of the developing world. This blend of cultures and styles has seen Stephen design and produce furniture, retail interiors, packaging, home accessories and consumer products for some of the world’s leading brands.
[Image credit: TaTu Coffee Table – Stephen Burks for Artecnicainc]
The Studio Museum in Harlem was established in 1968, with the main focus of presenting the work of artists of African descent, whether they are based locally in New York, nationally, or globally.
…innovation and tradition
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For further information about Stephen Burks and the Man Made Project visit: http://readymadeprojects.com