We’re All Connected


Contour Functional Art started because I had one goal- I wanted to make beautiful art that you can actually use. I’ve been drawing and painting for 30 years now, almost every day of that time was devoted to 2 dimensional representations of interesting things around me. Anyone that went to school with me knows that I always found time to draw in class. That passion led to so many cool opportunities along the way, but eventually I became less connected to drawing, and much more connected to building.

Around the end of 2017, I felt as though I hit a creative ceiling, and I had this very strong feeling that it was time to turn a corner creatively, and explore new ways to tell stories. After being approached to display original work at a large art convention in Houston, I approached my good friend, who happens to be my cousin. He moonlights as a woodworker, so because I trusted him and his ability to help me build what I saw in my head, I pitched the idea to him. I told him that I wanted to create fine art that functions as furniture. I wanted it to be shared from generation to generation. And that I wanted it to have a strong narrative like the rest of my work. I shared all of my goals with him, the creative direction that I was interested in pursuing and the social impact component that’s always been an aspect of my life. He listened carefully and offered new ideas. And just like that, Contour was born. 

A few months after completing our first commission in Houston in early 2018, I traveled to Malawi, Africa to visit a friend and old classmate from LSU. I was told that it would be life changing, but when someone tells you that, it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around it and really understand why- until you experience it yourself. The genuine kindness and ingenuity of the local people inspired me to seek opportunities in Malawi to collaborate with local artisans. 

With the help of my good friend that lives there, we were able to establish relationships in the community and start working on outreach initiatives like our work at The Jacaranda School for Orphans. He saw and believed in the vision I had for a design company that’s rooted in community empowerment, while creating legacy pieces of artwork. Shortly after our work at the orphanage in Malawi, he became a partner in the company. Soon after I returned to Houston, we developed a plan to continue to design functional art in America, but to build a large portion of it in Africa using sustainably sourced exotic trees, and offer it to clients around the world. 

Our partnerships with non-profits in Malawi will send proceeds from our sales in America directly to communities in one of the poorest countries on earth. We are pledging to plant ten trees for every table sold in America. We're also working to subsidize solar panels as a power source for villagers in Lilongwe, the capital city. Over the past year, we have developed an outreach program called "R.O.S.E.", which stands for "Reinvest, Outreach, Sustainable and Empower." These are the four pillars of our design company. Through our outreach program, we are planning ways to uplift several communities in East Africa, while connecting these communities to our clients in the states. We hope that it will inspire more interest and appreciation of the value that East Africa can offer to the rest of the world.

Once you start traveling you quickly realize how small the world really is, and how closely connected we actually are. How we share many of the same values and goals. How if given the opportunity, we can actually positively affect each other through brief or extensive interactions. Contour was created to not only design and build functional art, but to empower artisans globally- and help them design and build their own future. We’re all connected. In my case, I am connected to so many talented Malawian artisans because we share the same passion for art. 

Original Contour furniture products will be available in America soon, and it wouldn’t be possible without my brothers and business partners Brandon Destouet and Ike Igbo. Our support system is tremendous, and it would take way too long to thank everyone. Just know that we appreciate your support and we won’t forget about the positivity you’ve shared with us along the way.

-js


Leave a comment