Corey Damen Jenkins
Which “traditional” design rule(s) do you swear by? No matter what size your room or budget may be, strong architectural bones can help take any space to the realm of the “wow” and “now." I also believe that paying attention to proper scale and symmetry is non-negotiable: measure twice and purchase once!
Which design rule(s) do you break? I aim to break as many rules as possible when it comes to manipulating color. Whether it’s lacquering a library’s millwork navy, wrapping a ceiling in pink foil, or painting every interior door of a home purple, I think there are many mays to break barriers. It’s OK to make people go “hmmm."
Do you have favorite “traditional” design elements? I’ve always been obsessed with the architecture of the Italian Renaissance era. I still utilize rosettes, columns, elaborate capitals, and other classic millwork designs into my work—I love contrasting them against sexy, clean-lined furnishings and bold artwork.
Which iconic interior designer(s) do you admire and feel are still relevant today? Furniture and/or product designer(s)? I believe Jamie Drake and Miles Redd are definitely making their mark. I respect their unabashed approaches to color, and their product lines are phenomenal. When I think of icons, the ones that made the biggest impression on me while I was coming up are Mario Buatta and Bunny Williams. They are Master Class level when it comes to mixing patterns and other elements.
What design eras inspire you? I’ve always been impressed by the ancient Egyptians: What they were able to accomplish architecturally without the advances of modern technology simply blows my mind. I’ve also enjoyed studying the Secessionist Period of the late 1800s: some really gorgeous (and unusual!) stuff was created during that era.
Which antiques or vintage designs do you think have held up over time and play well with today’s updated traditional interiors? I believe Neoclassic antiques have maintained strong relevance down to this day. I’ve always found them to be the perfect foil for today’s modern furniture and art. And sometimes you only need one piece to make a huge impact.
Give us a couple of examples of modern and traditional design elements that work well together. Example 1: White lacquered Saarinen table paired with 19th-century Russian Neoclassic dining chairs—on top of a bold kilim rug.
Example 2: Fitted denim jeans paired with double-breasted waistcoat, or trench with patent leather Ferragamo shoes—sans socks!
What is a classic color combination that still feels fresh? Blue and green is a color combination that always feels vibrant and refreshing to me. I don’t know if it’s because they are the predominant colorings of our planet, but putting them together just seems to make people happy. And studies show that most humans love at least one of those colors in one shade or another.
Do you have a favorite go-to palette at the moment? My favorite go-to palette is the one that I haven’t done yet. I love soothing neutrals just as much as I love powerful, vibrant color. And since I’m blessed to have an incredibly diverse clientele, each project I design is very different from the last one. There are endless color combinations out there, and I love playing matchmaker.
How would you define today’s “new traditional” design? I honestly think today’s “New Traditional” design has been greatly informed by the Great Recession. People seem a bit less pretentious these days: They’ve learned that there’s no shame in repurposing things they already have. Young homeowners may inherit that old grandfather clock as a family heirloom, but they may lacquer it in a bold, cerulean hue to make it their own. Or maybe it means framing those dusty 1970s eight-track tapes in a gilt baroque frame. The possibilities will always be endless. New Traditional takes the best of the past and remixes it for the way we’re living now.
How would you describe your personal design style? My personal design style is a fashion-forward, continental mix of tradition and modernity.