At BKE DESIGNS, we provide custom design of commercial and residential spaces, furniture, lighting and handcrafted wood items.
We are committed to high quality and professional design standards. This makes us great partners to collectors, architects, designers, retailers, and the hospitality industry. People want to hire BKE DESIGNS to help them design and fabricate their projects.
We invite you to view samples of our work, browse our store and contact us to help you fulfill your next project.
Who is BKE
Educated as an architect at UIC, Brian Keith Ellison is a Chicago native. Known as BK to most, he began to learn furniture design in 1994. This hobby intrigued him enough to step aside from his real estate development career in 2006 to purse his passion for design full-time.
BK’s work sits in the homes of art collectors, restaurants and historic buildings and his 613 Table series can be found in the Chicago Mayor’s office. At present, he designs and builds for ad agencies, retailers and private owners.
In January 2015, Spike TV’s furniture design competition aired the first of 10 episodes where BK Ellison co stars as a contestant. (www.spiketv.com/shows/framework)
BK began his career in the design and development management business. There, he managed large-scale residential developments in Chicago, Gary Indiana, and Detroit Michigan. He spent 8 years at The Habitat Company as a Development Manager for the redevelopment of nearly 4,000 public housing units at Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor sites. BK Ellison also held Board of Director positions with Bethel New Life and the Chicago Public Arts community organizations.
After 15 years in real estate, BK left the country to move to Amsterdam to focus on furniture full-time. Under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, he managed a 2-year partnership with the late and talented Dutch designer Faas van Dijk of OZENFANT DURANT. The duo partnered on several projects, including the posh and popular tourist attraction "La Remise" bed & breakfast (click here to book) in central Amsterdam.
In 2003, BK traveled extensively through Europe and Johannesburg, South Africa where he joined a team of industry pros to build an AIDS hospice center. This 15-day experience was a life changing one for Ellison.
In 2003, another key experience was his introduction to the art and performance of Poi fire dance by members of the Burning man community (http://www.burningman.com).
Upon his return to Chicago in 2008, Brian met his life partner, Asali Naimah a corporate administrator and part-time workshop facilitator and dance instructor whom he married in 2010. Today, the couple enjoys their separate careers yet when time permits, they like to share their passion of performance as a duet for special events. (http://www.shimmysoul.com)
BKE DESIGNS operates out of a 10,000 square foot woodworking facility on Chicago's near West side.
Since 1923, this Pre World War II building stands as the only U.S. xylophone frame manufacturer that produces musical instruments for the Musser Company and manufactures camera parts for the Dierdorff camera company.
BKE joined forces with this facility in 2012 to expand on the facility’s operating capacity. Equipped with manufacturing grade milling equipment, this shop houses an industrial grade spray booth for a variety of finishes.
Exhibitions and Appearances
2015 - Cast member of "FRAMEWORK", a reality show competition for furniture designers. Produced by Spike Television
2012 - Museum of Science and Industry, Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition
2010 - Museum of Science and Industry, Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition
2008 - Hyde Park Art Center, "Not Just Another Pretty Face" Exhibition
2005 - Heir Gallery, Exhibition
About BKE DESIGNS
Get up close and personal with designer BK Ellison of BKE Designs.
Framework, Series Premiere: Rock The Boat - Build Day 1: Part II