Designer Friday: Jeffrey Dungan

Born and raised in rural Alabama, architect Jeffrey Dungan found a love for design early on in life; his gorgeous surroundings on his family’s farm inspired him to begin creating art. After studying architecture at Auburn University, he went on to found Jeffrey Dugan Architects in Mountain Brook, Alabama, not far from the farm that first inspired him. Now, Dungan leads a team of dedicated designers who bring ingenuity and imagination to life in residential homes across the country. His debut book from Rizolli, “The Nature of Home,” is a collection of eight very different Dungan projects, with tips, insight, and stories about each home from the architect himself. See two Jeffrey-designed residences below, and read his opinions and outlooks on life in this week’s #DesignerFriday.

Dungan crafts a headboard for the ages. Photo by William Abranowicz.

Andrew Joseph: What’s your wakeup ritual?
Jeffrey Dungan: I wake up at 6:30 a.m. and either head to gym and workout or some days I sit up in bed and read, check emails and Instagram, and read the news. Then about 8-9 a.m. I clean myself up and go to the office.

Andrew: What’s your go to bed ritual?
Jeffrey: Reading helps me wind down. Gandhi said, “prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.” I prefer to feed the soul with spiritual food. I’ve also found hydration and an Advil help the 50-plus-year-old body.

Andrew: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Jeffrey: Balance and control are both illusions. You have days that demand certain things from you, and you have to meet each day. Jesus said, “Sufficient to the day is the trouble thereof” and I have found that to absolutely be true. If Gandhi was right, I think Jesus was the truth.

Andrew: What modern design trend makes you cringe?
Jeffrey: The tuck. What is it really? Why did it happen? Who thought it was a good idea? Get a belt. Or don’t. But tuck? Nah.

Andrew: What’s your favorite time of day?
Jeffrey: The early morning and the late evening. At both times I feel no one else is awake and I like being awake then.

Andrew: What is one thing no one knows about you?
Jeffrey: I’m all about transparency. I’m not into secrets.

Andrew: Dream country to work in? Or dream project to take on?
Jeffrey: One day, I dream of creating a needle-like building of maybe 15 times the base like a skyscraper. But a dream country – Australia.

Andrew: What’s the biggest surprise you’ve had?
Jeffrey: That I wake up every day for almost 20,000 days in a row and that I get to make people’s dreams come true and even draw their dreams out in front of them. It’s surreal the life I live.

Andrew: Who do you want to write your obituary?
Jeffrey: I’m not interested in death, understandably it’s coming, but I live every day the best I know how. I never assume I get another one so each one for me is a miracle.

Andrew: Style (or design) icon?
Jeffrey: Carlo Scarpa, Michelangelo, Picasso, Voysey and Gaudi. All were men of vision and innovation all changed the game and moved the needle.

Looming ceilings and lots of window space make this Dungan living room a striking space. Photo by Chuck Williams.

Andrew: What’s one ingredient you put in everything?
Jeffrey: Soul.

Andrew: What’s your biggest fear in life?
Jeffrey: Being boring.

Andrew: What’s your current TV obsession?
Jeffrey: I don’t watch much TV except for sports. To me sports is the only real thing on there, the rest is fabrication one way or another.

Andrew: Most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Jeffrey: Jumped off a 50-foot-tall telephone pole, and had children.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
Jeffrey: The same thing and the only thing that has for centuries: Nature.

Andrew: Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
Jeffrey: It’s going to be okay…

Andrew: What’s your favorite board game?
Jeffrey: Chess. Backgammon is also fun. I’ve played Chess since I was about 15 years old and I play almost every single day.

Andrew: Least favorite color?
Jeffrey: Mauve… I mean is it really even a color?

Andrew: You are stuck on an island, you can pick one food to eat forever without getting tired of it, what would you eat?
Jeffrey: Potatoes. But judiciously.

Andrew: A skill you’re working on mastering?
Jeffrey: Kindness and generosity.

Andrew: Best compliment you’ve ever received?
Jeffrey: That I inspired someone by my work or something I said. Mark Twain and I have one thing in common, he said, “I can live for two months from one good compliment.”

Andrew: Favorite scent?
Jeffrey: Hermes Samarcande, and rain on a dry road.

Andrew: Sweet or savory?
Jeffrey: Savory.

Andrew: Who is your ideal client?
Jeffrey: Ones who can listen and hear, ones who are wise and understand. Ones who appreciate beauty and allow it to happen.

Andrew: Song you can listen to on repeat?
Jeffrey: Blackbird, by The Beatles.

About The Designer | Celebrated architect Jeffrey Dungan grew up on a small farm in Alabama. He was named a fellow in 2015 of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art and has won three coveted Shutze Awards from the ICAA. He has been honored with awards from the American Institute of Architects as well as the 2017 Southeast Architect of the Year Award by Veranda magazine and ADAC. In 2018, Jeffrey was a recipient of a prestigious Palladio Award, the only national award for classical architecture. Jeffrey released his first book with Rizzoli in September 2018 titled The Nature of Home. Photo by Rob Culpepper.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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