Designer and antique dealer Kevin Jacob maintains a distinct, not-quite-americana vibe in his Greenpoint store, Brooklyn Curated. The Long Island native talked to CONVICTS about building a war wagon for Joey Bada$$, the uncanny find he made at a deserted flea market in Ohio, and wearing Blundstones with shorts.
Hey Kevin. Tell us how you got into the business?
Well, I was really young I started working for Ralph Lauren. I was about twenty or twenty one and I learned everything there.
But you went on to start your own business. Talk about that transition?
It’s not easy being out in the world kind of on your own, I was kind of very conditioned to two weeks paycheck, nine to five. Trying to hustle in a place like New York is different. I give whoever tries to do that a lot of credit cause it ain’t easy.
Do you think that’s a positive thing though, overall?
If you stick it for a while here, it changes you. You’re a much better person than if you’ve never given it a shot. It’s not an easy place. There’s a lot of people. But if you have a dream and a vision and you want to make something of it you’ve got to have that extra drive. Passion.
What kind of atmosphere do you try to cultivate in your store?
The mashup, I call it. It could feel like very americana if I wanted it to. I try not to cram that down people’s throat. That’s not really my aesthetic.
What about your design work? Do you bring a specific aesthetic to that?
It depends on the scenario, what’s already there to work with. You try to just optimize the bones of what you’re looking at.
What are you working on now?
A bar in Bushwick then a residential project then a uh, merchandise rolling vehicle for an artist.
Merchandise rolling vehicle?
Joey Bada$$ is having us customize an old mini school bus into, kind of like an apocalyptic war tank looking machine. There’s a lot of work to be done, metal fabrication and designing the whole interior and sound system and fabricating the steel deck on-top so people can go up there and broadcast and throw t shirts out and stuff.
The war wagon sounds like a good time. What’s your personal style like?
I try to just have a bed and a toothbrush. I don’t want to feel burdened about things. I don’t feel like I own any of this stuff. It’s just passing through. I’m a minimalist.
Is it true that you have a Blundstone fetish?
I wear the same Blundstones everyday for literally about a year and then just go buy another pair, wear those ones for a year. It’s a non-issue. People don’t even wonder about my footwear. I wear them with shorts and everything.
Tell us about your design process.
Most clients have an idea of what they want to see, so you work with them, and try to take what they give you and put a twist on it and make it better.
Where do you get most of your pieces? Do you have specific spots?
It’s a little-that’s a tough one. That’s like asking McDonald’s for the recipe. I could give you regions.
Fair enough. Do you have any crazy stories about being out on the road?
The craziest story I have with that is-I was in the middle of Ohio, what did I find? I found this profile of a Native American Indian Chief. You see that motif often. But it was made out of resin and it was hollow and really old looking. It had that yellow look of an old vintage surfboard. I was like Wow, this is so weird I don’t know who would ever want this, but it’s just so cool. So I bought it. The next day I drove two hundred and thirty something miles away to a different flea market. It was raining out and there was nobody there. I’m like Well, I drove all the way here let me just run in and go run down the tables. I’m walking along really quick, and I stop in my tracks because I’m looking at the exact same Native American Indian head, but made out of metal. I’m like that looks exactly like what I got yesterday that’s so fucked up. I pick it up and turn it around and it’s hollow and realize it’s the form the other one was poured into to make. I wasn’t a hundred percent certain, so I bought it and told the dealer. He’s like ‘I’ve done this for thirty five years and that shit happens to you?’ And I’m like, man it happened to me. I went back to the truck and I laid the resin thing into the metal thing and it was a perfect fit. It was crazy.