Kevin Jakob, the shop’s owner wasn’t a Greenpoint face though – he was from my former and very different life at Polo Ralph Lauren. It was great to see him doing his thing in Greenpoint away from the Midtown hustle and comforting to see that life goes on after Polo.
Kevin sat at a nearby cubicle on the 11th floor at Polo’s Madison Ave office before my desk was literally moved into a closet a la Milton in Office Space. His grounding sense of humor was a relief in an office of talented folks who were often drinking the corporate Kool Aid.
Kevin never saw himself as a “lifer” at Polo and wanted to open his own shop for a long time. We talked about all the positive influence that Polo has had on both of our careers, particularly when it comes to the details. What I call “Polo goggles” serves Kevin in the presentation of Bklyn Curated, which is not only a retail space, but also a showroom and workspace for his interior design business.
It’s always been his “little dream” to have a space to meet with his clients – so they can “step into my world,” Kevin said.
Despite this Bklyn Curated has its own unique aesthetic, drawn from Kevin’s life growing up in a “creative environment” on Long Island’s North Shore “looking at Connecticut my whole life,” he joked, with a Mom who was a photographer and musician.
“I play music, I paint, I’m an artist,” Kevin said.
Why open in Greenpoint?
“It made perfect sense,” Kevin said, “I love Greenpoint. Franklin is changing everyday but it’s a different growth. [Greenpoint] is going through a lot of changes but the core of it is not going to change.”
Williamsburg had an “artists loafing in old buildings core, then the money came,” but in Greenpoint, “there is more of a foundation, more of a neighborhood.”
So far Bklyn Curated has been well received on Franklin St.
“I met 5 million people last month,” Kevin said, “A lot of people work in Manhattan, in film, magazines and the arts and they really get it, they love it.”
Of the people that don’t “get it” he said that, “everyone is positive and even with a positive attitude, some people don’t get it, so I have to educate them, which is a good thing, too.”
“These spaces were so badly built out in the 70s and 80s that when you are doing a build out and start taking away you reveal original tin and original elements so the spaces naturally take on an older feel,” Kevin explained.
That being said, he quoted a friend: “I felt like I was in the 1900s, but they had very modern prices.”
Because the modern Brooklyn “look” is influenced by so many cultures and eras, it’s difficult to have a dialogue about the aesthetic of the Bklyn Curated, which Kevin said is a “mash-up” of Mid-Century Modern, Native American, American Folk Art, with textiles and books and a surfer element.
Kevin’s finds are “a little bit of all over” – LA, Ohio, Pennsylvania and flea markets.
When working with clients he tries to help them get out of design boxes, which only draw from a particular period.
“I buy a lot of antiques, a lot of vintage, which requires a lot of trust from my clients,” he said. “When I find pieces it’s not like I’m shopping from a catalog or walking around Soho. It takes time to find the right piece,” which is not always easy for clients.
When I asked Kevin if he could give advice to people designing or decorating their own homes, he said, “Buy what you like, buy what you think is cool. You can always make it work.”