architect Deborah Burke

Photo: Rebecca Greenfield

Q: How would you describe the buildings you design?
DB: My work is very simple and spare. I'm not a religious person, but I was raised as a Congregationalist—think the clean white churches in New England with no stained glass. The clarity and simplicity of those spaces impacted me deeply.

Q: You design both public buildings and private residences. What do you like about designing houses?
DB: I like how, at the end of the day, everybody does the same things at home: You eat, you sleep, you take pleasure in solitary and social pursuits. Yet when I'm making a house, those universal things manifest so differently.

Q: So few working architects are female. Do you see that as a hurdle?
DB: Like any woman in any male-dominated profession, you get used to being the only woman in the room a lot of the time. But being used to it doesn't mean I don't want it to change.
ombre box

Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Material Samples
Berke piles a rotating stack of samples, like this block of resin, on her windowsill. "I really like how they look when the sun hits them."

Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Raaka Chocolate
"Dark chocolate is an absolute necessity every afternoon. Just a tiny bit."

Photo: Debby Hymowitz

Custom GJ Chair
To benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Berke was one of 20 designers who created a custom version of Grete Jalk's classic chair.
Louis Vuitton scarf

Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Louis Vuitton Scarf
"Blue and pink leopard print sounds ridiculous, but this scarf is handy at work. In the winter it's warm, and in summer I throw it on in a frozen meeting room."

Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Muji Notebooks
"These are lovely but simple. Each page has a grid of dots, which allows you to write in straight lines but doesn't get in the way of sketching."
bridge cable

Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Bridge Cable
"A friend gave me this piece of the original cable from the Brooklyn Bridge. I think it's inspiring and incredibly beautiful."


Dymaxion Map
"Buckminster Fuller's map reminds me to look at things from a different point of view. That's important in design, politics, and friendships."

Next: 4 rules for getting the home of your dreams