Could A Showhouse Be In The Future Of Your Design Career? with Corey Damen Jenkins
One of the most prestigious showhouse projects in the nation is the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse - a project that benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. This past year Corey Damen Jenkins received a personal invitation to participate in the project - and the work his team did in that house was UH-MAY-ZING!
In this episode of Wingnut Social, we talk with Corey about how he became involved with the project, what is typically involved in doing a showhouse project from a practical standpoint, and what he recommends you do if you are considering participation in a showhouse project as part of your business strategy. You’ll learn what is needed in terms of budget, participation, marketing, and more - and hear why we politely declined a showhouse invitation early in our design career.
As you might expect, a showhouse project as prestigious as the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse can garner a lot of attention for the designers who participate, and Corey made the most of his opportunity by being on-site during the tour. He stayed in his room the whole time, interacting with those who came through, discussing his inspiration and purpose for the room, and answering any questions those touring the house may have had.
As a result, the phone has been ringing off the hook ever since. That’s what you’d hope for but given the quality and stunning nature of what Corey was able to create, you’d also expect that to be the case. On this episode, Corey generously shares how he made the most of the opportunity and gives sensible and practical advice about how to get your foot in the door with showhouse organizers in your neck of the woods.
While the prestige and notoriety of being involved with a showhouse are typically very beneficial to you as a designer, you can’t do it alone. Corey explains that much of his success with the Kips Bay project flowed out of the existing relationships he had with General Contractors, photographers, manufacturers, and more. In his mind, the real strength behind your participation will come from the relationships you’re able to forge.
Corey explains why you should work to ally yourself with reputable vendors and manufacturers long before a showhouse project comes on your radar, how to go about it, how to negotiate donations or cost-splits for the showhouse design, and what it takes to work as a team to pull off an incredible effect from your room(s).
When Corey approached the design of his room in the Kips Bay project - the library - he approached it from a very different angle than you might expect. Historically, the library would have been a gentleman’s office or “man cave” of the day, so Corey wanted to bring a 21st-century approach to the room. He reversed that traditional approach into a way to pay homage to the significant role women have played in society.
He suggests that designers have a very clear plan and inspiration behind their room design in a showhouse so that they can easily and passionately talk about it with those who are interested - including the press. There’s nothing more un-press-worthy than a designer who only talks about color palettes and furniture choices for their room. Engaging with reporters about your room’s theme and inspiration provides a spin on the work that interests a wider audience and attracts press coverage.
Listen to hear the entire conversation. Corey is a gifted, generous guest who made this episode a delight for both of us… and we’re confident you’ll feel the same as you hear it.
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