Ride of the Week: Architect Steve Jones and his Jeep Lifestyle

It’s always interesting to interview designers. But nowadays, it seems that everyone’s a designer and that sentiment is actually true.

Human beings are creators. It’s what we do. But what sets us apart is our mindset and how we do what we do in our own unique way. Case in point: Stephen Francis Jones from SFJones Architects.

Jones has been an architect here in LA for many years and specializes in social spaces, basically extending your living room at home out among the world. It’s a place where you can gather with friends, eat, talk and swap stories for a time. Warm and inviting spaces that inspire creativity among friends, family and new acquaintances are Jones’s domain.

He’s created spaces for several places here in Malibu (Bui Sushi, for one), as well as for the likes of Wolfgang Puck and many others.

But when it came time for this successful architect to snag a cool car, he wasn’t interested in the likes of what many Malibuites clamor for. Instead, he pined for a bit of a grittier and textural option: the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara.

“Although, it’s a lease,” Jones explained, as we drove north on PCH. “We didn’t upgrade other than the lighting package, the sound system upgrade and the safety feature package.”

As the new Jeep is filled with thousands of Original Equipment Manufacturer options, modifying them isn’t all that necessary anymore and a lease makes sense.

But Jones goes on.

“I’ve only had it for two months, but we got it after we visited the LA Auto Show in January,” he said. “We were told that they were taking custom orders, so I went to Scott Robinson Jeep in Torrance with my daughter and we picked out the options we wanted. I especially liked the new safety features and light upgrade since my daughter just got her learner’s permit.”

But why this car for Jones instead of so many other SUVs?

“I have been a Jeep owner since I moved to LA in 1988 for grad school at UCLA,” he said. “It was a 1975 CJ-5 and was the only thing I could afford that was still cool.”

Ah, and here we have it. The car makes Jones feel a certain way.

“After I got married and had my first child, my wife made me sell the CJ-5 and get a more practical car. I did this with the caveat that one day I would get a new one. That day was after the recession when I had to downgrade from my Land Rover to something more affordable. My daughter talked me into looking at the Jeep … and after I drove it … [I] fell in love again.” 

“I love the fact that I can basically have a car that I can drive to a business meeting or take the top off and have an open air vehicle and scoot around my home near the beach,” Jones added.

Primarily, Jones uses his Jeep to commute to work and to meetings.

Occasionally he goes camping or on road trips to Palm Springs, Mammoth, or somewhere where he can load his bikes in the back and have a weekend excursion. And that, my friends, is what separates the Jeep from most.

The outdoor mindset of a Jeep owner says “I want to be in nature, any way I can.” And this, in many ways, also seems to inspire Jones’ designs.

“Since it is a hard top, taking the top off by myself isn’t all that easy,” Jones said. “So I devised a way to lift it off using a series of pulleys and ropes mounted to the ceiling of my garage. I can back it in and hook it up to lift it so I can drive out by myself.”

Of course, knowing Jones, the lift probably looks very cool, too. 

An avid cyclist, Jones mentioned that he always loved riding on PCH or through the Santa Monica Mountains.

“I love the ocean and mountain views and can decide if I want to ride my bike to the bottom of a hill and loop around or can just cruise down PCH,” he said.

It’s a good feeling to live in a town where people come to enjoy what we have. And we have a lot.

Cars can, if you allow them to, provide far more than transportation. They take us on a journey, but in the mind and in the body. And through that journey, our spirit is lifted into a kind of peace that at times defies description — like the moment when you catch a wave and everything goes into slo-mo. This is why surfers chase that high.

But the high doesn’t have to put your life at risk. It can quietly sneak in and bring you the present moment. And this is also why I like the Jeep so much, and it seems to be why Jones likes it, too.

Thanks Steve-o for hanging with me on the Vlog! Be sure to check out his awesome stuff at www.sfjones.com

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