Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

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Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

A series of lamps, tables and storage made by New York designer Stephen Burks in collaboration with basket weavers in a village outside of Dakar is on show at the Design Exchange in Toronto.

Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

The baskets are made from sweetgrass and colourful recycled plastics.

Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

"The process is more like coil basket stitching than weaving because it involves building the form from a central spiral outward while 'stitching' the one sweetgrass bundle to the next," says Burks.

Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

He's known for his projects linking artisans in the developing world with global brands like Artecnica and Moroso - see more stories about his work here.

Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

The exhibition continues until 1 April.

Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

Here are some more details from Stephen Burks:


I worked in Senegal for a week in and out of the village then for about three months in the studio with my team developing the pieces.

We looked at the baskets in many ways from "baskets re-invented" where we used existing baskets as a module to make a final product (like the Starburst lamp) to "baskets abstracted" where we used the baskets as a form for making a similar voluminous object with a completely other material (like the Untitled HDPE lamp).

My Man Made project is really about integrating centuries old artisanal processes into contemporary design products to extend these craft traditions into the future, while also building a bridge from these developing world hand factories to international distribution.

Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

It's about asking the question, "If these people can make your bread basket or clothes hamper, why couldn't they also make your next chandelier or pendant lamp?"

Unfortunately, the pieces aren't yet commercially available. Every piece in the exhibition is unique and one-of-a-kind, so our next step is to find partners to help commercialise the project.

Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

Stephen Burks: Man Made Toronto

Stephen Burks: Man Made Toronto features the work of New York industrial designer Stephen Burks and his studio, Readymade Projects. Burks can be considered a design activist, whose work challenges the way that we think of traditionally crafted objects and contemporary design.

Burks collaborates with artisans in the developing world to transform raw and recycled materials into clever, functional products. Linking these products with the distribution and marketing of global design brands such as Artecnica, Cappellini and Moroso, Burks brings social, cultural and economic benefit to people in remote locations. In doing so, he also introduces new forms and aesthetics to contemporary design in the industrialized world.

Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks

For Man Made Toronto, Burks invites the Toronto public to consider basket lamps, shelving, tables and other interior products that he developed with Senegalese basket weavers in a village outside of Dakar. As authentic hybrids of two cultures, these products seem simultaneously fresh and
familiar.

Man Made Toronto is presented by Wedge Curatorial Projects and the Design Exchange, in collaboration with Chevalier Edition. The exhibition takes as its starting point the Museum in Harlem’s exhibition Stephen Burks: Man Made (March 31 – June 26, 2011).

January 23 – April 1 2012

The Design Exchange
234 Bay Street Toronto, ON