At this year’s Design Miami, one exhibit in particular took center stage, that of multi-hyphenated designer Samuel Ross. Represented by Superior Gallery Friedman Benda, he showed three distinct, but thematically overlapping series that represented three centuries of the black experience. It was a remarkable achievement for any designer (especially one as young as Ross, who is in his early 30s), but hardly surprising. In recent years, the British artist has experienced a meteoric rise, accumulating an impressive and long track record: Emerging Menswear Designer of the British Fashion Awards in 2018, the Hublot Design Prize in 2019, the Forbes 30 under 30th list in 2020, as well as recognition as a finalist for the LVMH Prize and the Andam Prize. Collaboration offers have arrived from Converse, Apple, Mercedes Benz and Nike, to name a few.
Black design talent has been present throughout history, but too often great creatives have been shunned from elite institutions and accolades due to racism, ignorance and Eurocentrism. . Fortunately, times are changing, and this Black History Month, we reflect on the black creative avant-garde defining a new era of furniture, decorative objects and ceramics around the world.
Many are inspired by traditional African or Afro-diasporic forms and techniques. Some, like Ross, are remarkably young (one maker on this list is just 21). However, all are united to advance their mediums.
Below are the black furniture artists and makers you should know about.