Can Good Design Save the World?

An Interview with Jim Muchmore, Founder of Muchmore Design and organizer of the Save El Chocó Silent Art Auction.

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Photos courtesy of savethechoco.com

WC & Co. is thrilled to be hosting the Save El Chocó Silent Art Auction tomorrow night. Organized by one of our former employees, Jim Muchmore, the auction will benefit the Centro Jambatu of Fundación Otonga, an NGO that’s established a reserve in the endangered Ecuadorian region of El Chocó. We chatted with Muchmore about the project and how he’s using great design to do good.

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WC: Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Ecuador and El Chocó. How did you come to be involved with this project and with the Fundación Otonga?

JM: I first traveled to Ecuador four years ago for my honeymoon. My wife suggested Ecuador because we wanted to have a different experience. We spent half of our honeymoon in the Amazon and the other half in the Andes. This was my first introduction to lowland rainforest and I was instantly hooked. A couple months later I tossed out the idea that I wanted to go back to Ecuador to travel with Tropical Herping (a group focused on amphibians and reptiles that funds science through tourism) to explore the western side. My wife was super supportive and agreed without hesitation. That was the spark that lit the fire. While traveling with Tropical Herping I started dabbling with the idea of exploring design’s role in conservation. This led me to meeting Dr. Coloma (One of Ecuador’s leading amphibian experts) and him introducing me to Otonga.

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Why is this project important to you?

The Chocó is one of the Americas’ forgotten paradises. It is under great threat and I wanted to give it a voice. The area is greatly endangered with only 5% of the forest remaining in Ecuador. It is a part of the world that we cannot lose.

How did the idea for this auction come about?

A good friend Tim Strazza gave me the idea of hosting an art auction. It was a natural fit, working in design and being a painter. Most of my closest friends are talented artists so I figured I could tap them on the shoulder (sorry everyone). This is the first time I’ve held an event. I have a new found respect for anyone who does this on a regular basis.

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A branding firm in NYC and an ecological project in Ecuador seems an unexpected combination. Yet your firm, Muchmore Design, combines branding and design with conservation. What does the relationship between art, design, and conservation mean to you? How and why did you set out to combine these interests? 

When people think of conservation they think of science but in reality conservation is made up of lawyers, accountants, fundraising, etc. I noticed a lack of good design, especially in the smaller organizations. That is the void I’m trying to fill. My passion for art and wildlife has been lifelong, but I always thought of them separately until I started to focus on sustainable packaging design while attending Pratt for my master’s.

Anything else to add?

I want to thank everyone for the support. I’ve been fortunate to have many amazing people help shape me and my career and I appreciate it. Fight for what you love.

We hope you’ll join us tomorrow night, January 12th from 6:30-9pm. Right here at WALLACE CHURCH & CO.

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