Design prototypes – result from the cooperation between CUCULA and Stephen Burks
Workshop in Berlin. Filmed by Manuel Marano

More Aphrike #3
Social Design between the worlds
with Corinna Sy (CUCULA) and Stephen Burks

About CUCULA and Stephen Burks

How can African handcraft and global brands be connected in a meaningful way? How can migrants create their own perspective with the support of design? In »More Aphrike 3« we aim to find answers to questions of responsible design in a globalised world. To discuss this M.Bassy invites guests from New York and Berlin: the internationally successful product designer Stephen Burks and Corinna Sy, founder of the design manufacture project CUCULA in Berlin, which supports refugees to build their own professional future through the production of furniture.

Corinna Sy, Photography by Kristine Thiemann

Corinna Sy (CUCULA)

Social Designer Corinna Sy founded, together with Jessy Medernach and Sebastian Däschle, the initiative CUCULA in 2014. Furthermore she is the head of the design team. CUCULA helps refugees from African countries to live a self-determined life in Germany. CUCULA runs its own workshop in Berlin, offering a range of educational programs for people with refugee status helping them to create a long-term perspective. From early on Corinna Sy, as a freelancing designer, puts her focus on social-political issues and the development of social projects.

Stephen Burks, Photography by Kristine Thiemann

Stephen Burks (Man Made)

For over a decade, Stephen Burks has dedicated his work to build a bridge between authentic craft traditions, industrial manufacturing, and contemporary design. He is working for brands like B&B Italia, Boffi, Cappellini, Dedar, Dedon, Harry Winston, Missoni, Moroso, Parachilna, Roche Bobois and Swarovski. Since 2005, Burks has consulted with nonprofits including Aid to Artisans, the Clinton Global Initiative, Design Network Africa, Artesanias de Colombia and the Nature Conservancy. Stephen and his studio Stephen Burks Man Made won several design awards.

Corinna Sy and Stephen Burks at M.Bassy

Premiere at M.Bassy

»Through the process of building something with your hands we were able to overcome language and cultural barriers «

Corinna Sy
Stephen and Corinna are presenting first drafts of their collaborative work. Photography by Kristine Thiemann
The first prototypes

In the panel »More Aphrike #3« we experience how responsible design is influencing Corinna Sys and Stephen Burks way of working. Corinna’s project CUCULA is focusing on the practical assistance for individuals. She explains: »As Designers we have to create a space to support people who can’t act independently«. Designers are able to create their own reality and have the possibility to change existing ones. That’s her message. Stephen Burks imagines today’s responsible designer in a new role. As a response to the globalized world he creates meaningful objects, which initiate cultural dialogues. He creates relevant collaborations between culture, craft, brands and manufacturers.

Our talk with Corinna & Stephen


»We started thinking about the questions: Why are refugees not allowed to work? Not allowed to earn money? We found that unacceptable and wanted to do something with them together.«

Photography by Kristine Thiemann

Tonight we would like to talk about design between worlds and with a social approach. Can you tell us more about CUCULA?

Corinna Sy:

"With CUCULA we discovered that through the process of building something with your hands we were able to overcome language and cultural barriers. In the beginning we were quite naive. We didn’t know anything about the refugee issue. But we decided to do something. One quote by Enzo Mari, an Italian designer and philosopher inspired us a lot: »I want to create models for a different society«. We got really into Enzo Maris thinking and philosophy. Back in the 70ies he created a book full of nineteen designs teaching people how to build their own furniture."

The entire talk with Corinna and Stephen

Prototyping in Berlin

»The hand is the original tool, I like to call the communities I work with »hand factories« and I mean that in the most creatious way possible.«

Stephen Burks
CUCULA workshop in Berlin
Stephen and Corinna prototyping in Berlin. Filmed by Manuel Marano

Design - thinking ahead

Stephen about his view on design. Filmed by Manuel Marano

Workshop Berlin: 29-30.3.2017 // Exhibition & Talk Hamburg: 01.4.2017, 19.30

funded by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation

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