Local architect calls on community to stand for justice using furniture

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 11:30 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -A local black architect is encouraging the community to take a stand for justice using a piece of furniture.

The project is centered around those who’ve died at the hands of racial violence.

Furniture company Herman Miller and a Madison architect teamed up to create a platform for honest conversations around social justice.

It starts with a chair.

“This is a Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman,” Michael Ford, Madison architect said.

The chair was originally created for luxury and leisure, but that didn’t sit well with Ford, so he flipped the script.

“On the chair, it’s names of people who did not see that luxury of a refuge,” he said. “So not only police brutality victims, but there are names of people who have been killed from lynchings to church bombings.”

There are 150 names on the chair. Some are former hashtags, but all of them are victims of racial violence that the Madison architect scribbled on the leather.

“One by one I had to research the stories again. I had to find the names,” he said.

The chair is meant to spark conversation and discomfort.

“It’s a chair to make some take a stand. We don’t want people to be comfortable. We want people to get up and take action,” he said.

The lounge chair was shipped to several states across the country in 2021. The campaign encouraged leaders, activists and celebrities to have open dialogue about social injustice and inspire positive change.

The people of influence sat down with Ford via Instagram Live to talk about racial disparities and the injustice they faced in their lifetime.

“We interviewed different people about what they’re doing in their communities and neighborhoods as the uprisings have been happening and cries for justice,” Ford said.

It’s justice that Ford, also known as the hip-hop architect, is still seeking. He calls the project personal.

“Anthony Taylor. That’s my brother in law,” he said pointing to a name on the chair. “He was shot as a teenager in the city of Detroit.”

“This project is a bit dedicated to him allowing his name to be known and getting his story out there,” he added.

These are stories that are reality for most.

Now the chair is back in Madison. Ford said he hopes it encourages others to pull up a chair and listen.

“Get people to take a stand and again create safe spaces that hopefully can add to all the efforts everyone else is doing and prevent some of these unnecessary murders,” Ford said.

The money raised from this chair is going toward pro-bono services for victims of racial violence. Specifically, a Wisconsin victim will receive free services to make his home ADA accessible.

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