Founded in 2017 by landscape architect, art educator and award-winning artist Jamar Simien, Contour’s core focus is to create beautiful art that can be used. Simien, who was trained in site specific design at the LSU College of Art and Design, uses an indigenous material palette that is completely recycled and repurposed into functional art. Jamar believes that art should not just be seen, it should be thought provoking and experienced.
In landscape architecture, the word contour means “the form of the land.” Simien’s design sensibilities are rooted in his interest in geography and cartography, which includes contour maps- with a particular interest in East Africa because of its diverse terrain. Being one of the smallest countries by land mass in Africa, Malawi features the most diverse lake in the world. Filled with spectacular peaks and dramatic valleys, the Malawian landscape provides a strong foundation of inspiration for the Contour team. Their narrative based designs feature soft organic shapes and hard geometric lines that are juxtaposed to create pieces that each carry visual intrigue, as well as their own unique story. Simien believes that storytelling and place-making are related. Similar to maps, stories help us locate ourselves.
The unique team dynamic of Contour, with workshops in Malawi and Houston and co-owners from Africa and America, makes this enterprise a truly global design firm. The skillful collaborators in Malawi and Houston carefully handcraft Contour’s pieces with rare materials, at museum-level quality. With the belief in full circle connectivity and authenticity, Contour places an engraved coin into every solid wood table top it produces, with the idea of connecting the end user to the origin of each piece.
Connection and collaboration are important aspects of the Contour design philosophy, and as such they reinvest into the community from which they salvage fallen trees. Contour has facilitated design workshops throughout Malawi and has educated rural communities about sustainability practices through their tree planting program with Root to Fruit, a non-profit partner based in Malawi. Using an exotic wood material palette, as well as a penchant for attention to detail, Contour strives to celebrate East African culture through distinctive custom designs, all handcrafted with care.
The owners of Contour all share an appreciation for high quality, sustainable design. Each person brings their own unique perspective to our conversations about design and construction.
Jamar Simien is the CEO and Creative Director of Contour. He is an award-winning art educator and a published fine artist who travels the world regularly. His background is in urban design, holding a degree from Louisiana State University (LSU) in Landscape Architecture. He's a skillful oil painter, with a specialty in realistic portraiture, having held solo exhibitions in Baton Rouge, Houston and Los Angeles. As a founding partner, Jamar oversees design and the creative direction of the company. When he's not working on a commission for a client, he's facilitating outreach programs and design workshops between Texas and Africa. He currently lives in Houston.
Ike Igbo is the CFO/COO and Logistics Director of Contour. He is a world traveler, has modern design sensibilities and collects beautiful furniture from all of his travels. He holds a clinical doctorate in Occupational Therapy and is an expert in assessing the functionality and ergonomics of our handmade furniture. He holds degrees from Louisiana State University (LSU) and Nova Southeastern University (NSU). Born in Nigeria and educated in America, he has a keen global approach to design and business. Ike oversees all of the logistics concerning exporting our products from Africa to America.
Brandon Destouet is the CMO and Technology Director of Contour. He is an experienced woodworker who creates custom furniture for clients around the world. He is a founding partner of the company, with a wide variety of interests in design. A graduate of Prairie View A&M University, he has a business background with an emphasis in IT and marketing. Aside from his work in IT, he has turned his passion for woodworking into a successful career. Brandon oversees construction and marketing for the company. He lives in Houston, Texas.
All of our original functional art is created in our design workshops in Houston and Malawi, Africa.