Five Under 40: Jenny Murphy

Colorado Homes & Lifestyles' Class of 2019

Photo by Jennifer Olson

It was a shock for Jenny Murphy to finish school and “land on design-build,” a project-delivery system vastly different from being an interior designer in a studio. Years later, Murphy is at ease with juggling the many interconnected, moving parts to the design-build process. Since 2012, the Montrose native has been delivering creative, comprehensive projects at Factor Design Build.

Her highest aspiration? To create spaces where people feel like themselves.“In design-build, you are touching the project from the very first client meeting until delivery: one entity, one contract, one unified flow of work from concept through completion. I want to make sure people are happy throughout and also happy with the end result,” Murphy says. To this end, she sets out to actively get to know her clients before putting her considerable skills on the design table and working with the rest of the team to raise the bar.

Photo by Kimberly Gavin
“Ultimately, clients want something that will improve their lives. Anything we do, we’re shooting for improving their lives in one way or another.” — Jenny Murphy

CAN YOU PLEASE MOVE THAT WINDOW?: “Despite the complexities involved in design-build, the involvement in the whole process is worth doing. Dealing with one entity offers many advantages to our clients. We don’t have a separate office for the carpenters, the traffic managers, the architects and the designers. Because all of us involved in the project are sitting in the same room, I’m able to turn around and talk to an architect about moving a window to make room for an appliance, for instance. That’s the beauty of design-build.” 

THAT LOOK: “Most clients go to a specific studio for that look. I don’t have one signature look. My job as a designer is to relinquish my ego and stay malleable, while keeping my clients rooted. I’m designing for someone else’s taste; it’s not my house. Ultimately, they are paying for the service.”

Photo by Kimberly Gavin

A MATTER OF PINTEREST: “What was at one time a matter of form and function has become a matter of Pinterest. Pin boards are a great resource. But many people pin things that are out of their budget or impractical for where they live. If you live in Colorado and pin a deck from California, chances are some of the materials are not going to work here. My job is to get inside my clients’ heads and figure out exactly what they want and how to make it work. When someone shows me 600 pins of white cabinets, I look for the commonality. I look at the 600 pictures and try to figure out what my client might not have noticed, and I say, ‘I just noticed this element in every single one of your photos.’”

PROGRESS BY ELIMINATION: “My ideal client is someone who is able to pinpoint what they like and what they don’t like, someone willing to place faith in me to guide them through what can be an overwhelming process. I’m not offended if you say you hate it. If we’re eliminating something, we’re moving forward. Anxiety about what to pick can hinder the outcome and hurt construction timelines. But having faith in the design process and trusting the final outcome isn’t easy. Ultimately, clients want something that will improve their lives. Anything we do, we’re shooting for improving their lives in one way or another.”

Photo by Kimberly Gavin

THE SKITTLES CARNIVAL: Inspired by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, a love of Skittles and a childhood fear, Murphy’s carnival would be an easy-to-navigate pictorial playground. “Carnivals are whimsical and fun, and the memories last a lifetime. So I would keep all the traditional elements—the rides, the food, the games—and I would play with color to add to the zaniness of it all. As a kid, I was afraid of losing my parents at a carnival, so I would use color-blocking and keep each section of the carnival monochromatic—think a life-size bag of Skittles. I’d have the blue Skittle area, the yellow Skittle area, all marked with clear shapes and lines. I think that would be super-fun and would keep the energy of a carnival, without overstimulating the senses.”

WORDS TO LIVE BY: Inspired by interior designer, author and TV personality Nate Berkus, Murphy advises, "Be a rutheless editor of what you allow in your home. Ask yourself: What does this object mean to me?"

See the rest of the 2019 Five Under 40 Design Award Winners

Categories: Stylemakers