Stephen Burks will be the first recipient of the newly established Bruno Mathsson Design Residency. Burks, a prominent American designer, will participate in the residency from May 15 to June 15, 2024, residing and working in a house from 1955 in Värnamo designed by architect and furniture designer Bruno Mathsson, commissioned by Vandalorum’s founder Sven Lundh. The residency offers Burks the opportunity to explore the extensive furniture and manufacturing industry in the Jönköping region, studying Bruno Mathsson's work and delivering a public lecture at the Vandalorum Museum of Art and Design.
Stephen Burks: I believe the closer the hand gets to the act of making, the more potential there is for innovation. The Bruno Mathsson residency will bring my way of working into conversation with Swedish design history and industrial expertise while questioning who participates in design and who benefits. As the world faces continued global crises, design has the capacity to create more dialogue around more issues for more people. Even today, Mathsson’s legacy is living proof of this.
The Bruno Mathsson Design Residency, initiated to provide international designers time for research, development, networking, and focus, operates within the framework of Vandalorum and the Jönköping region's manufacturing industry. The residency is run by Region Jönköping County and Vandalorum, in collaboration with IASPIS/The Swedish Arts Grants Committee`s International Programme for Visual and Applied Art and Värnamo Municipality, in collaboration with entrepreneur and furniture collector Johan Sjöberg, Bruno Mathsson International, and the Karin and Bruno Mathsson Foundation.
This year, 43 qualified designers from five continents applied for the residency, with a jury consisting of Dr. Mateo Kries, Director, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein; Jenny Nordberg, designer, Röstånga; Magnus Jonsson, Head of Culture, Region Jönköping County; Lennart Alves Gernes, Art and Design Developer, Region Jönköping County; and Elna Svenle, Museum Director, Vandalorum, Värnamo.
About Stephen Burks
Stephen Burks (b. 1969, based in New York) is a designer and professor of architecture at Columbia University in New York. He studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology and Product Design at IIT’S Institute of Design, as well as attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture. Burks is the first African American to receive the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in product design. 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, Burks has worked as a product development consultant in close collaboration with hundreds of artisans in over 15 countries on six continents. He 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.
Burk’s work has been exhibited internationally including the Armory Show, Art Basel/Design Miami, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, MAD Museum of Art & Design, Philadelphia Art Museum, Salone del Mobile, Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennale, and the Stockholm Furniture Fair, and the Studio Museum Harlem. He has received various awards, including the Illinois Institute of Technology Alumni Professional Achievement Award, the Brooklyn Museum Modernism Young Designer Award, and the United States Artists Architecture & Design Target Fellowship Grant. Burks has also served as a product development consultant global brands like Dedon, Missoni, and Swarovski.
Stephen Burks, Broom Thing, Berea College Student Craft
Stephen Burks, Kida Dining Chair, Dedon, 2023
The house at Backegårdsgatan, Värnamo, Sweden. Designed by Bruno Mathsson, 1955. Photograph Peo Olsson.
Stephen Burks, Kida Swing, Dedon, 2020
Mellan åkrarna i utkanten av småländska Värnamo ligger Vandalorum, ett museum där vår tids mest tongivande konst och design visas. Ett stenkast bort möts E4:an och riksväg 27 som gemensamt binder samman Sverige. Initiativtagare till Vandalorum är Sven Lundh och uppbyggnaden har möjliggjorts finansiellt av företagarfamiljerna Hamrin, Liljedahl och Svenstig. Byggnaderna, som minner om den monumentala torklada som en gång låg på platsen, är uppförda efter ett originalkoncept av den prisbelönte italienske arkitekten Renzo Piano. En av Vandalorums lador är hemvist åt Smålands Konstarkiv, vars utställningar främst lyfter fram konstnärer med koppling till Småland. Vandalorums trädgård är skapad av den holländske trädgårdsdesignern Piet Oudolf.