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A piece with punch: Alumnus launches design career

Sculptural furniture is latest foray into arts for former Jayhawk athlete.

by Steven Hill
Justin Wesley

“Knuckles Console,” a collectible design piece by Justin Wesley, c’14, was featured at the Design Miami fair in Los Angeles in May. The wood-and-lacquer side table, inspired by brass knuckles, is the first work created by the former KU basketball power forward, who is beginning to make
a name for himself as a designer of sculptural furniture after briefly pursuing a career in fashion design. Represented by the Wexler Gallery in New York City, where he lives, the self-taught designer is developing his first collection of high-end, limited-edition furniture (featuring a credenza, lounge chair, cabinet, floor lamp and bar stool) for debut this fall.

“From the outside looking in, it would be called an overnight success, since I only signed a contract last fall and ended up going to Design Miami less than six months later,” says Wesley, who’s also known to KU fans for portraying Wilt Chamberlain in Oscar-winning KU film professor Kevin Willmott’s 2014 movie “Jayhawkers.” Of his burgeoning design career, he adds, “I think I got lucky, but I also had the resolve to stay with it and weather the many, many storms to get here.”

Steven Hill is associate editor of Kansas Alumni magazine.

Photos courtesy of Justin Wesley
Issue 2, 2024


Art, Men's basketball
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