Since starting his Instagram handle @hellocousteau in 2016, Henriques has gained over 20,000 followers and, on occasion, has received more than a hundred emails a day asking where to buy or order his helmets.
From Issue Seven of Gear Patrol Magazine.
What do you do when you’ve made a living designing everything from toothpicks to super-yacht interiors — and then get bored? Would creating your own motorcycle helmet designs be the obvious choice? It was for Nuno Henriques, more famously known on Instagram as @hellocousteau.
Considering Henriques’s career saw stints at such legendary design firms as Phoenix Design in Stuttgart, Germany, KiBiSi in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Rémi Tessier Design in Paris, France, it’s easy to see how Henriques became frustrated with the helmet market. “I was never a graphic designer, never a helmet designer. I was simply looking for a helmet for myself and couldn’t find anything I liked. They all seemed to be the same, there was no individuality.”
Since starting his Instagram handle @hellocousteau in 2016, Henriques has gained over 20,000 followers and, on occasion, has received more than a hundred emails a day asking where to buy or order his helmets. But to date, only a couple of the renders from Henriques’s Instagram have made the jump to reality — one for AGV, one for HJC and a one-off race suit for Spidi.
Despite the widespread appeal of @hellocousteau designs, Henriques finds that bigger brands — the ones best equipped to bring the creative work to market — are sometimes the biggest hurdles. “People want change, people want different helmets, but the problem is inside the companies,” Henriques says. “A lot of brands have contacted me to work with them, but if you do what they want, you lose your creativity and individuality. You just do one more thing for them.” Design ideas go into approval meetings with promising momentum only to suffer death by committee because “brands insist on making the same thing over and over,” he says.
Why not, then, go the custom route and get a skilled painter to bring the designs to life? That’s when his profits would skyrocket, after all. But Henriques isn’t in it for the money. In fact, he’s turned down requests from Hollywood stars, motorcycle racers and race car drivers — he doesn’t want his designs to come with some ultra-premium price tag. “The main idea behind @hellocousteau was not to make a lot of money, but to give people a choice,” Henriques says. “That’s the reason I’m putting my designs on display: so someone can come and do something about it.”
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A version of this story appears in Gear Patrol Magazine: Issue Seven. Subscribe Now: $39