Enthusiastic is a key word used when describing Dana Jenkins’ approach to design: her ability to find delight and bring a unique perspective to her work facilitates design conversations and often leads to results that exceed her client’s expectations.
In 2011, Dana founded Jenkins & Grey, after having spent 17 years with Gensler. In only five years, this boutique New Jersey firm designed, managed, and implemented more than one million square feet of new workplace. This work included a ground-up headquarters building for Commvault, and multiple projects nationwide for Energy Capital Partners, inVentiv Health, and Carroll, McNulty & Kull. In early 2017, Jenkins & Grey began its association with Mancini Duffy, and Dana was named principal of our firm and the managing principal of our New Jersey office. Through her leadership, she’ll not only further strengthen our commitment to the New Jersey market, but inject her dynamic design sensibilities into all our projects nationwide.
In 2009, Dana received the “Woman of Influence” award from New Jersey Real Estate Magazine. A leader in workplace design, Dana has been invited to speak about workplace trends and sustainability throughout the tri-state region. As her expertise is greatly valued, she has served on a fund allocation committee which delivers resources for much needed capital improvement projects to nonprofit institutions through the United Way of Morris County. And for many years she shared her vision with design students at Pratt Institute of Technology.
Dana lives with her husband and three sons in South Orange, New Jersey.
When did you know you wanted to be an architect/designer?
From a very young age, I knew I needed to plan spaces and solve spatial problems. My parents had a subscription to a house design and planning magazine, and I would pore over the plans and redraw them to “fix” their deficiencies. At the age of 15, knowing my passion for design, my parents allowed me to take bus into New York City every Saturday to take drafting classes at Parsons School of Design. The rest is history. I ultimately landed at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and what I learned there became the foundation of my future successes.
What’s the biggest highlight of your career?
Working on the design of Stringfellow’s, a high-end nightclub back in the mid-‘80s. It was all bubble-gum pink leather and black mirror. But while that was certainly a highlight, my biggest highlight was designing and building Commvault, a 300,000-sf project which started with a pile of dirt and a vision. We produced this project as Jenkins & Grey with just four team members, working out of my house.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
Three tidbits from my dad:
- “Spend all your money because you never know when you are going to die.” In hindsight, I should have followed my mother’s advice on this one.
- “Never leave the ‘buy-back’ drink on the bar.” Traditionally, this was an empty shot glass left next to your drink indicating the next round was on the bartender.
- “If you’re going to get into a fight, throw the first punch and then run.” Luckily, I’ve never had to use this advice.
Where would we find you on the weekend?
Weekends are for my children, so whatever they have scheduled is where you would find me. I secretly hope for rainy weekends so I don’t have to go anywhere.
What is something you collect?
I collect many things, from hand-built pottery to carved wood objects, but my largest collection, by far, is a collection of rocks gathered from all over the world. I have specimens from Australia, Thailand, Bali, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, and all over the United States. I’ve actually thrown away shoes to make room for rocks in my suitcase. My favorites are flints from southern England. They have a smooth, chalky, white exterior and a shiny, blackish-brown interior—the perfect juxtaposition of color and texture.
What’s the most unusual item in your desk drawer?
A bunch of voodoo dolls.