Clean and Simple Leather Goods for the Modern Man
Developing a personal aesthetic is a process that is fraught with many potential pitfalls. If you make a wrong turn somewhere along the line, you could end up hot glueing fake vents to every available surface of your dragon-themed C5 Corvette. If, by some miracle, the planets align and everything works out and you develop a keen eye for good design, generally all you’re rewarded with is the ability to see bad design everywhere around you. It’s a real gift/curse kind of situation and most people simply become jaded, cynical and annoying about design as a response. Jacques Flynn is not most people. He has taken his sharp eye and turned it to not only creating some of the automotive world’s most exciting design language from the last decade, but also has gone even further and created a line of extremely clean looking, unique leather goods. Jacques is a pretty interesting guy. We spoke to him recently about how he got to be the way he is, and about what he’s been up to both in his day job at Mazda and with his personal line of wallets and belts known as Jaqet.
The product of a British father and a French mother, he grew up in New Jersey riding BMX and mountain bikes. In fact, bikes were his first love, in terms of wheeled things. In his late teens, he moved to Southern California, decided he wanted to attend Art Center College of Design and went about taking many of the night classes that they offered. During the day Jacques worked at a bike shop until he was accepted to Art Center’s prestigious Transportation Design program, considered to be one of the best such programs in the world. While in school Jacques interned with both BMW at their Newbury Park, CA Designworks studio and Volkswagen at their facility in Simi Valley, CA. After graduating from his program in 2006, he was approached by Mazda to work at their US design facility in Irvine, CA and Jacques has been there ever since.
During his time at Mazda he has worked on such notable projects as the much loved fire-breathing, rotary-powered Furai concept (RIP) and the “ND” 2016 MX-5 Miata, along with many other past and current Mazda vehicles. Outside of Mazda, Jacques has worked on building his personal line of high end leather goods under the name Jaqet, founded in 2012. As an automotive designer, your work is constantly being subjected to committee, altered, reworked, and restrained. “Because Jaqet is basically just me and one other guy, it allows me to react really quickly to changes and demands, it also allows me an unfiltered outlet,” said Flynn. Another aspect of Jaqet that makes it interesting, is the fact that Flynn runs it essentially out of the Long Beach, CA apartment that he shares with his girlfriend, though based on the quality that he’s able to achieve, you’d think it was a much bigger operation.
In recent years, the market for high quality mens clothes and accessories has expanded in a way that would have been difficult to foresee even a decade ago. This has opened the doors to many brands like Jaqet but at the same time it can make it tough to not drown in the rising tide. Some of the ways Jaqet stands out is in the extremely unique graining finish that Flynn applies to many of his products. The dye streaks look almost like wood grain and with enough wear and tear, develops an incredibly beautiful patina. This streaking was one of those happy accidents. “I was brushing the dye onto a wallet, and it began streaking. Rather than freaking out and trying to fix it, I saw that there was a kind of beauty to the grain pattern it created. I’ve just stuck with it since,” said Flynn. In addition to the dye finish to the wallet, Jacques has added hand-burnishing, stitching, and other unique features like money clips, etc. “Part of what’s exciting as a designer, especially with Jaqet, is seeing the products develop and change with use. The leather for our wallets starts out as being really stiff and over months and years, the material relaxes, the dye fades and changes. A patina develops that is completely unique to the person using it and the piece takes on a life of its own. It’s really satisfying.”
Throughout his life, Jacques has continually built upon his personal sense of style, developed his tastes, and sharpened his design sensibilities. He’s avoided falling into those traps of either fixating on one style or simply becoming too negative. The quality of his work has reached a point where he doesn’t have to speak for it or really explain it. It stands on its own. He attributes this to simply maturing as a designer, “As you mature, you are able to pull a really clear and concise message from a design. You can look at something, a car or a watch or whatever, and distill from it the ideas that the designer was trying to convey.” When we look at his work with Mazda and with Jaqet, the message we divine is one of someone continually trying to push their own boundaries and limits as a designer. We can’t wait to see what Jacques decides to do next, whatever it is, it’s sure to be awesome.
Shop Jacques Flynn’s line at jaqet.com