In an exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Shelters in Place, Stephen Burks talks about the role of design in the era of global crises, with 50 works and 5 unpublished prototypes

At the High Museum of Art in Atlanta the solo exhibition Stephen Burks: Shelter In Place is underway, a review of more than fifty works expression of the active work carried out in the last ten years by the studio-laboratory Stephen Burks Man Made's.

The fifty works on display until March 5, 2023 have been selected to be each in its own way the voice of Stephen Burks Man Made's identity collaborative approach; in fact, the exhibition falls within a context of celebration, certainly, but also of uninterrupted research in the field, regarding the role of design in terms of globalcrises.

Last but not least, the situation that we have all experienced since 2020, and in particular the months of quarantine, which for Burks have also meant stimuli, reflections and evolutionary creations.

To accompany the identified works, on display with Stephen Burks: Shelter In Place there are also five prototypes, the result of a mix of reflections and surveys of the post-pandemic designer and in-depth considerations on the history that characterizes us as human beings affiliated with different cultures in the world.

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Collaboration, inclusion environmental, enhancement of cultural diversity are therefore the three values highlighted by the exhibition of the High Museum of Art.

Who is Stephen Burks

Designer Stephen Burks has dedicated almost twenty years of career to deepening the relationship between artisanal andindustrial productions. For him, "design gives the opportunity to represent everyone's culture, without distinction".

Stephen Burks' work is therefore the result of an uninterrupted investigation into craftsmanship from all over the world. An approach that has ensured that, over the years, Stephen Burks established himself as one of the most important exponents - and the first African-American - of design that combines the handmade with the industrial.

The cultural diversity that he gives light to with his works takes shape through a mixture of art, architecture, design, craftsmanship, industry. And of course culture, because design is, as Burks states: "a cultural production and, like art, literature and music, it has the opportunity to represent everyone's culture.

With this in mind, we try to use design as a language that can speak more about color, shape, materialitye processo".

The 5 prototypes at the exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta

On display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, alongside the works represented are the last ten years of work by Stephen Burks Man Made's , 5 prototypes born from the designer's desire to transform design into a celebratory and at the same time innovative tool are on display.

Prototype 1: The Ancestors

The prototype The Ancestors takes shape from the observation of the Afro-Diasporic ritual of keeping statues symbolic at home, d often unknown origins, laden with meaning for a people who cannot trace their ancestors, but who no doubt feel spiritually connected to the stories of pre-colonial Africa.

The idea of ​​The Ancestors was born during the summer of 2020, when the whole world was marching in solidarity to the cry of 'Black lives matter': "recognizing the sacrifices of those who preceded us, we have reinterpreted sacred objects through sketches and 3D prototypes and prototyping that have transformed into life-sized abstractions that remind us of where we came from and the need to share".

Prototype 2: Supports

Supports was born as a response to the exponential increase in daily technological interaction during the pandemic: "While we were cooped up at home, racking our brains to find a natural position to relax, watch a movies and sending messages, I decided to work on a product that would support tech devices".

These are lightweight podiums for digital devices, designed in different sizes that adapt to any digital device, to be used both standing and seated. It is not a high-tech solution, but rather primitive. They are really, to all intents and purposes, ''simple' supports for tech devices.

Prototype 3: Woven TV

The reference to TV comes from an anecdote, which is also the reason why this prototype was created.

It's a stopgap for anyone who has a TV at home but isn't a fan of it. Woven TV is an open fuselage that wraps around the flat and suspended screen of the device: its perforated surface allows it to be used as a 'pocket tray' in the sense amplified. You can slip in the morning paper, a shopping bag, clippings and recyclable trimmings.

The idea was born during isolation, when the designer found a flat-screen TV belonging to the previous tenant under his bed. Bored by the pandemic routine, he began to explore schedules and programs but realized that it wasn't for him. The television, however, was now fixed to the wall. That's where the prototype originates from.

Prototype 4: Private seat

Our homes, traditionally places for private interactions, have been forever altered since the pandemic.

We suddenly found ourselves inviting the outside world to peek into personal spaces. Not to mention the flexibility of the environments we have been forced to adapt to.

Inspired by the wavy shape of the Aalto Screen, in Private set material bands open like a fan to create a spatial and acoustic envelope that offers a private place to make a phone call, read, meditate or just be alone. It is a micro-architectural in a hyper-contemporary key.

Prototype 5: Spirit house

"Many of us have lost loved ones during the pandemic. Without a site to physically gather and commemorate our pain, we wondered where to place our spirituality" says Stephen Burks.

Inspired by the Southeast Asian practice of honouring deceased family members in miniature houses, Spirit House is a lighted altar for the contemporary home.