“In design, it is important to have a point of view. And a point of view is derived from a sense of style. Style, in turn, comes from an awareness of the world around us.” These words of wisdom were voiced by Jay Spectre (1929 – 1992) in a 1984 interview with Architectural Digest magazine.
Jay Spectre. Photo courtesy of quietroomsgreen.com
Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1929, Jay Spectre was educated in his hometown and began his work as an interior designer in 1951 when he joined the staff of Hubbuch, a local store. His work was marked by Art Deco, Asian and African influences. His designs have incorporated high-tech and hand-carved elements, and represent “a strong a 20th-century point of view”. Indeed, of his own apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, with its Chinese raw silk and bleached oak with brushed-stainless-steel details, Spectre said “The reason I love the Orient and Oriental art is because they represent a culture that has survived, flourished, vanished and reemerged. There is a quality of timelessness.”
An interior attributed to Jay Spectre
Gold and white porcelain box for Silvestri, 1991
In 1968, he established his Manhattan-based design company Jay Spectre Inc., whose clientele he described as “silent celebrities who valued their privacy”. The company completed commissions in Europe, South America, Canada and Asia as well as throughout the U.S. Not satisfied with being limited to designing for homes, Spectre also designed private jet interiors, yachts and large office complexes. In 1985 Spectre and his partner Geoffrey Bradfield founded a licensing firm out of Manhattan called J. S. P. S., Inc. to sell companies the right to manufacture articles that were designed by Jay Spectre Inc.
Spectre’s apartment on Fifth Avenue
Century Furniture commissioned for Bloomingdale’s centennial celebration a sixty-piece collection by Spectre which utilized glass, wood and metals. Other projects included a print collection for American Textiles, table top items for Sasaki and lamps for George Hansen. His work was seen by the public in Architectural Digest, Interior Design, and Arbitare, as well as in other design magazines.
“Eclipse” desk of blonde veneered cerused oak
Spectre received much recognition. He was named “one of the top eight Designers of America” by the Smithsonian Institution as part of their “Giants of Design 1979” exhibition, and also awarded the “Dean of Design” award and Residential Design Excellence Award by the Chicago Merchandise Mart in 1982 and 1983, respectively, and was also the first designer represented in the permanent collection of the New York State Museum. Spectre died in 1992 at the age of 63 at his home in New Caanan, CT.
Lounge chair by Jay Spectre