In a single week, Corey Damen Jenkins went to Los Angeles to promote his new collection with Hudson Valley Lighting, then to New York City for a Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club annual dinner, and then back to his home base in the Detroit area to scoop up his staff before heading to High Point, N.C., for the semi-annual furniture market.
“It’s three cities in one week, but my frequent flyer miles are bananas,” said Jenkins, whose interior design work has appeared in Architectural Digest, The Wall Street Journal, Veranda and House Beautiful, and who in 2017 was named one of Traditional Home’s New Trad Rising Stars of Design.
Jenkins will be in Houston this week as part of Texas Design Week events, when he’ll be interviewed by Tori Mellott, senior design and market editor at Traditional Home at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Janus et Cie, 3935 San Felipe.
Jenkins took time recently to talk about hard work, going big with color and his brand-new lighting collection.© Corey Damen Jenkins, Photographer / Corey Damen Jenkins An interior design project by Corey Damen Jenkins.
Q. You’re having a bit of a moment right now, recognized by Traditional Home as a rising star and launching your new collection, but life wasn’t always so perfect. Tell me about getting your start in a tough city at a tough time.© Corey Damen Jenkins, Photographer / Corey Damen Jenkins An interior design project by Corey Damen Jenkins.
A. I got started in 1996 working as an interior design assistant in New York City and went into commercial business for a while working for the Big 3 when I moved back to Michigan. After the economy had its meltdown in 2007, I got laid off from a very cushy job buying materials to decorate executive offices, cubicles, things like that.
I decided to go back to the residential side of things, and I literally went door to door asking people for an opportunity. It was in Detroit so we got hit first and hardest. Even the very wealthy were not looking to hire a designer, even if they could afford it. I had a 1995 Honda Accord and didn’t want to drive it into super rich neighborhoods so I rented a fancier car, sat outside gated neighborhoods and waited for someone to leave so I could skedaddle in.
I knocked on 800 doors in the dead of winter: “I’m Corey Damen Jenkins, and I see you’re building a new home, are you looking for a decorator?” People wouldn’t even open their doors. Some slammed them in my face. One day, a really kind couple gave me a shot. It was December of 2009 at this point. My unemployment checks were small, and I was surviving on Ramen noodles and hope. When that couple said we will consider this and get back to you after holidays, it was the longest five weeks of my life.
I completely renovated most of their rooms, tearing out walls and closets and putting in a butler’s pantry and lighting. They were happy, and I purchased a cheap GoDaddy domain website for $29.99 or whatever and launched coreydamenjenkins.com.
Q. Tell me about your new collection with Hudson Valley Lighting.
A. I have been working on the collection for three years; doing this with a great, top-tier company is beyond my wildest dreams. People ask me how to get a collection with a manufacturer. A lot has to do with natural energy and synergy. It’s also about being a champion for the manufacturer. I used Hudson Valley Lighting with my clients for years before I signed a deal.
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One home had a 10-page spread in Traditional Home. When that came out, social media tagged the manufacturers and that put things on the radar with them. A few months later when I was shopping at the Dallas market, Hudson Valley’s V.P. of development says ‘weren’t you in Traditional Home? We saw your work and we love it.’ We had a really great conversation and he said they wanted to do a collaboration … would you be open to that?© Corey Damen Jenkins / Corey Damen Jenkins An interior design project by Corey Damen Jenkins.
Q. Hudson Valley is such a big company, with many thousands of fixtures already. How do you come up with something fresh and new?
A. It needs to be beautiful and functional, affordable to produce and able to make a profit. That’s a lot of boxes to check off when designing a collection. I’m working on flush mounts. Some homes have lower, 8-foot ceilings and there’s not enough room to hang a chandelier.© Corey Damen Jenkins / Corey Damen Jenkins Interior designer Corey Damen Jenkins
I submitted 90 drawings for 90 families, that’s a sconce, chandelier, pendant the whole thing, 90 families of light fixtures.
I was sketching for my life for months and then they go through it with lightning speed: ‘I love this, yeah, OK, no, terrible.’ You put hours and hours into it and then if they say they hate it you can’t take it personally. They know what will sell, what’s been done and what’s dated.
Q: Everywhere I look I see pale neutral palettes. Yet in your own portfolio on your website I see blue, green, orange, yellow — color, texture and patterns are everywhere.
A. We have clients from every background, culture and color from all over the world. We work with people from different walks of life. They all have in common a zest for life. They want color, but they’re terrified of it. I never wanted to be a color guy, but I think it’s how we all should live. In Michigan and Connecticut, people deal with long, bleak winters that are washed out — gray skies, snow on the ground and some of them get depressed from those winters. I find that the antidote to that is having bright, colorful interiors. No matter what’s on the outside, the inside is still cheerful.
Q. You’re heading to High Point for the annual spring market. Can you play trend forecaster and tell me what lies ahead?
A. We will see more color-infused interiors. I do think that look at Restoration Hardware has been very successful with its gray-and-white palette, but it has reached a breaking point. So many people have that in their homes that now no one has individuality. I think we’ll start seeing more international flavors influencing interior design —Scandinavian and Asian influences. I see a return of passementerie touches, like tassles, fringes, but it will be different. It won’t be that classic chintz of the 80s — it will be a fresher take on a classic motif.© Corey Damen Jenkins, Photographer / Corey Damen Jenkins Jenkins believes that our homes are a retreat from the busy-ness of life. © Corey Damen Jenkins, Photographer / Corey Damen Jenkins An interior design project by Corey Damen Jenkins.
Even the whole Mad Men look, that midcentury look, will move forward to other takes of midcentury. America doesn’t have the only midcentury style, other parts of the world do, too. Scandinavian midcentury will be big.
Q. Will your own collection, with Hudson Valley or Leathercraft have any surprises?© Corey Damen Jenkins, Photographer / Corey Damen Jenkins Detroit interior designer believes in colorful palettes. Corey Damen Jenkins. © Corey Damen Jenkins / Corey Damen Jenkins Corey Damen Jenkins launched his design business at what might have been the worst possible time: the economic crash of 2008. He went door to door in affluent neighborhoods until someone gave him a job and gave him a break.
A. One thing people don’t know that’s coming out is that HVL will feature my new lamps, too. They did not preview those in Dallas in January; they will debut in High Point. I’ve got a double gourd lamp, a croc skin lamp. People need great lamp options and semiflush and flush-mount options. I’m filling in the gaps.
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/home-and-garden/rising-design-star-got-foot-in-the-door-by-knocking-first/ar-AAwfgTg