“POV” ~ Jim Fairfax

a guest post by the celebrated designer regarding his muse Gertrude Stein

The grand dame of style Diana Vreeland once said Most people haven’t got a point of view; they need to have it given to them.”


Do I have a point of view?  Absolutely.  Is there an aspect of my point of view that makes my design work different or unique?  Absolutely.  Do I have an aesthetic angle?  Absolutely.

As an interior designer, I define function, I re-imagine space, I create and commission custom furnishings, I select materials, I select objects and works of art and I provide the organization necessary to secure all the moving parts.  I’m creating a physical world in which the people that commission my work will live their lives.

Is there one person I hold close to me each day as I do what I do?   One person who – by virtue of their choices – lives in both my work and daily routine?  Absolutely.  Gertrude Stein.

Gertrude Stein with her 1905-06 portrait by Picasso

Miss Stein’s literary work and personal life was about the psychology of creativity:  the creation of an “other” world if you will.

The painting by Picasso

Some contextual facts about Gertrude Stein;

1)   Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1874.

2)   Moved to Paris in 1903 to live with her brother Leo at 27 rue de Fleurus – later joined by her life partner Alice B. Toklas in 1910.

3)   With the help of her brother Leo assembled a massive collection of modern art by the great masters of the day.

4)   Shared this art collection at a now infamous weekly evening Salon at which her guest list was a who’s who of artists and writers.

5)   Established an experimental style of writing that changed the course of modern literature.

6)   Lived through the occupation of two World Wars.

7)   Died at the age of 72 in 1946.

Gertrude was at the center of a creative force that defined the zeitgeist of her time.  Her work pushed the creative envelope at every turn and her personal life with Miss Toklas and her circle of friends and family celebrated a life well lived.


My Greenwich Village living room

A very generous critic once told me “your work is like poetry.  There is always something unique about the combination of parts that is unexplainable.”

What does this mean?

I believe with every bone in my body that beauty matters.  When you put beauty first – everything you design will remain useful forever. 

I’m not a designer with a signature “thing”.  I’m not the plaid guy.  I’m not the color guy.  I’m not the modern guy.  I’m not the classical guy.  I’m bits and pieces of all of these.

Although I am partial to certain color palettes, shapes and materials, these elements are not what define my work.  My point of view is expressed in the assembly.  It’s the rigor of an artist.  I edit my canvas to a few exquisite lines to create a visual serenity of spirit.


1)   I’m a reductionist at heart and eliminate anything that is unnecessary.

2)   I embrace purity of form and color.

3)   I celebrate texture.

4)   Contrast and subtle tonal relationships soften.

5)   Antiques and vintage finds bring context to a modern space.




A house in the country is not the same as a country house.” ~ Gertrude Stein


The difference is poetry…..





22 thoughts on ““POV” ~ Jim Fairfax”

    1. LOL – Marcela – you know me so well. 🙂 I think I’m most attracted to the celebration of her ideas. Always so magical to me. People, places and ideas that spawn a life well lived. Always curious. Always questioning. Always inventing.

    1. Welcome to my world and I send you warmest thanks for you kind words. I leave you with a Gertrudism to contemplate: “I have always noticed that in portraits of really great writers the mouth is always firmly closed.” Gertrude Stein

    1. @ Atticus – you’ve been supportive of my work for years and i absolutely cherish that knowledge! Gertrude has been a muse for decades. I’ve read and reread her writing – I’m fascinated with the group she surrounded herself with – and of course – how can I not be inspired by the incredible collection she assembled. When the Stein show came to the MET – i went so many times the security guards started to recognize me. Maybe they thought I was scoping out the place for the next great art heist. 🙂

  1. It so refreshing how you refer to your work as being “commissioned ” a three dimensions artist is true to your work. I hope to one day enjoy the pleasure to experience one of you pieces in person. Great post!

      1. Nothing would make me happier than to have my very talented and generous friends in Harlem. I will gladly host a weekly salon.

  2. I love that Jim chose Gertrude Stein as an influence because she created a way of life as opposed to an interior. I have always admired the life that she created. She celebrated the creative.

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