“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…..