Corey Damen Jenkins’s Book, ‘Design Remix,’ Is an Ode to Detroit
Design Remix: A new twist for traditional spaces
779 is a special number for Corey Ladies Jenkins. That’s because it’s the number of doors the interior designer knocked on before booking their first design project. That’s right – before Jenkins hit the cover of national magazines (including House Beautiful!) Last March, Jenkins was walking door-to-door in his hometown of Detroit to kickstart his (then new) career. The year was 2008 and Jenkins, just fired from his job at a car company in the face of the recession, decided to finally explore his childhood dreams of interior design. The designer describes this story in his debut book Design Remix, published this week by Rizzoli.
“I told myself I would knock until I found someone to hire me to design their house or a thousand rejections, whichever came first,” Jenkins recalls in the introduction to the book. 13 years later he has a successful company with offices in New York and Detroit and has been featured in countless magazines as well as in the renowned Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse in New York.
Jenkins attributes much of his success to a kind of resilience he learned as a native of Detroit. “Starting my company in the middle of the recession in 2009 closes with Detroit falling and I lost my job in 2007. So the idea really was to come out of the ashes and flee,” he tells House Beautiful. “I always tell people who want to get into the industry [or, indeed, any industry!]”It won’t just fall on your lap – you have to hurry and work.”[in Detroit]We’re comeback kids, and when we’re down we keep getting up. ”
Jenkins Room at the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse 2019.
Marco Ricca Studio
In the introduction to the book, designer Jamie Drake compares Jenkins to a peacock, “a symbol of renewal and immortality”. Drake also points out, “The peacock’s plumage is filled with aquamarine, chartreuse, fir, forest, and olives, colors often found in Corey’s beautiful palettes.”
Jenkins nodded to Detroit’s Motown musical roots and coined the term “Design Remix” to describe his style. Classical elements that have been reinterpreted in new ways can often be seen in its multi-layered rooms. “It’s about re-mixing what traditionally worked in design with vibrant play of colors and patterns and different elements that normally don’t go together,” explains Jenkins. “So this book is really supposed to celebrate traditional design and how we can spin it for today.”
A Detroit home from Jenkins in House Beautiful.
On the pages of the book, Jenkins shows exactly how he does it – from mixing custom colors to taking keywords from fashion and not being afraid of mixing up patterns (Pro tip: It’s about harmony, not match ). The result is spaces that feel comfortable – sometimes even comfortably familiar – but always exciting, happy and a little unexpected. “Rich colors, antiques mixed with modern, funky geometric patterns, these are the things that have always appealed to me as a maximalist,” says Jenkins.
He is also a firm believer in the importance of communicating good design early on: “I think the environment we create for our children – or the environment we do not create for our children – affects how they see the world. ” he explains. As such, the book contains an entire chapter on decorating for children. And no, that doesn’t mean childish murals and stuffed animals, but rooms that children can grow into and at the same time encourage their creativity. Because who knows, you might be raising the next generation of creative maximalists.
In this dining room, Jenkins cleverly mixes multiple patterns and jewel tones.
Ultimately, Jenkins believes his bold, remixed style has never had more resonance than it does now. “I think we’ve really seen this gray, minimal, calm look in the last 10 years,” he muses. “But I think people are now under more pressure than ever before – they struggle with loss and uncertainty and they want a more colorful environment. They don’t want to come home to a gray box when it snows and a pandemic strikes. So I think we applaud these jewel tones, this joyful nature of the design. People are ready to be optimistic – they are ready to live again. ”
Ready to start? Order Design Remix here.
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Hadley Keller is a New York-based writer and editor who specializes in design, interiors, and culture.
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