Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Tomorrow, as part of CCS's Toyota Lecture series, Stephen Burks is coming to lecture. Within the Toyota series, the lecturer is required to have an informal discussion or critique with some of the students. The last lecturer, I think, chose Industrial Design students as his informal audience. Well, Stephen has decided that he would like to talk to Crafts students, particularly Fiber Design and Furniture Design. That's me! So, in order for me to sound/look intelligent tomorrow when we're all sitting around a table together, I'm doing my homework and looking him up. He's really well known in Europe, but not so much here. I hadn't even heard of him before I found out about this lecture.

His website isn't very helpful, to be honest. But, I found a good New York Times article that gives me some insight about his design goals, methods, etc. His studio is in New York City, but he has started to do a lot of collaboration with artisans in third world countries. As far as I know, his studio still does all of the design work, but they then work with people in poor countries to make their products by hand.

In the middle of a lecture he just gave on Oct. 29th at the University of Michigan's Taubman school, he talks a lot about collaboration and authorship. About how these days sole authorship is kind of being fizzled out in favor of collaboration and artisan sourcing similar to what he does. I agree to a certain extent. Some areas of the design world are seeing this happen, and I think it's great. He talked about having conversations with friends in other disciplines, and I think applied it to this concept of shared authorship. It's definitely something to think about.

This makes me wonder what he has to say about the role that the internet plays in all of this. I look at collaborations like Nora and Theresa's Pause for Breath project, Heather and Jen's Inspired project, and others like them. Each artist is creating something their own, but putting into the context of the other's creation, or in the case of Heather of Jen, reacting to the other's work and creating something that they wouldn't have been inspired to create otherwise. The internet is enabling people who never would have met and who probably would never have seen each other's work to connect and to be inspired.

I think that I will ponder this overnight and in the morning and maybe bring something related up in the discussion. I have no idea what the discussion/personal lecture will be like. Will he start talking about his work and stuff and then let us ask him questions? I hope he doesn't just say, Alright guys, ask me questions! Who would do that, anyway?

Do you have anything you would like me to ask him on behalf of yourself? The more questions I ask, the more intelligent and knowledgeable I look! Let's collaborate on questions :)

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