NFL player–turned-designer Michael Bennett engages African diasporic design in inaugural exhibition

Michael Bennett, 2014 Super Bowl Champion and former NFL player of 11 seasons, has retired from football to tackle a new frontier: architecture. Before he played with the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Philadelphia Eagles, Bennett was a graduate of the Heritage School of Interior Design. In 2020, he founded his own design collective, Studio Kër, so it’s not altogether surprising that he’s currently working on finishing his architecture degree at the University of Hawaii. Both educations have gone on to inform his inaugural furniture exhibition, made in collaboration with the late industrial designer Imhotep Blot and presented by Marta gallery, entitled We Gotta Get Back to the Crib.

Now on view in Chicago at Rebuild Foundation’s 6 Flat, a historically Black site that was once subject to redlining and white flight, the exhibition is a furniture collection that opposes Western design traditions through its explicit exploration of African diasporic motifs. Bennett and Blot focused on the idea of communion and togetherness, hence the domestic scope of the presentation, aptly referenced in the studio’s name. (Kër translates loosely to “house” in Wolof which is spoken in Senegal.) The driving ideology behind the collection is, as Bennett told AN Interior, to come “out of the confines of the traditional gallery, taking these objects that were considered gallery style or high art and weaving them into this new cultural landscape that we grew up in and we experienced as the crib.”


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