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)