University Place, Syracuse University
Zeke Leonard

School of Design
Assistant Professor, Environmental and Interior Design
Coordinator, First-Year Experience

When his career as a theatrical set designer in New York City began to seem wasteful, Zeke Leonard began to examine his relationship to the things he designed and to think about their ultimate fate: the landfill.

This prompted a return to study and a stripping down of his values to a philosophical core. At the Rhode Island School of Design his thesis was a deep study of the spaces we occupy and the phenomenon of social acceleration. After graduating with honors, he embarked on a studio practice in Fall River, Massachusetts, where he made bespoke furniture piece by piece by hand. He was also writing, developing a design philosophy that has a firm foundation in sustainable practices and responsible design.

At Syracuse University, Leonard’s teaching practice brings his research in sustainability in line with his work in socially responsible design. He believes that all of design changes the world and that as designers we must be thoughtful about how we bring about that change.

In addition, Leonard is the chief design officer for Salt Works, a local job-skills-training project that uses reclaimed lumber and furniture making as a way to provide training to underemployed Syracuse residents.


Zeke Leonard, Reverb Community

Zeke Leonard, Reverb Community

Reverb: a collaborative re-use musical community