Spectre went from a teenager designing window displays for the Frankfort furniture store of his brother-in-law Elliott Marcus, to the top of the interior design industry propelled by a fresh yet classic sense of style, drive and considerable charm.
Politicians and movie stars were among his clients. Magazines such as House Beautiful and Architectural Digest covered his work. With his venture into creating furniture, fabrics, rugs, lamps, and other accessories, his name became more well-known in his later career.
He began his interior design career in 1951 in Louisville. In 1968, he established the design company Jay Spectre in New York. He designed interiors for luxury homes, private jet aircraft, yachts, and offices, which showed Art Deco, Asian, and African influences with high-tech and hand-carved elements.
In 1985, he and (Geoffrey Bradfield) set up the licensing firm JSPS to sell rights to furniture, china, rugs, and other articles designed by the Spectre firm.
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In 1987, designed the Neo-Deco line of furniture for the Century Furniture Industry. The collection appealed to a wide range of people, and it could be used in a suburban home or a metropolitan apartment. Metals and light-coloured white oaks add a sense of freshness and sophistication.
“The pieces seem ‘different,’ but never faddish; the line has what we call good continuity. We know it’s the kind of furniture our customers will enjoy for years to come.”
Harley F. Shuford, presidet of Century Furniture 1987
He executed rug designs for Louis de Poortere, outdoor furniture for Jordan Brown, Filipino wicker furniture for Century, and lighting for Sunset.
(With Bradfield) he published the book Point Of View: Design by Jay Spectre (1991).
“All of my clients have been millionaires. . . I’ve never had any other kind. They are people who have achieved a great deal in life. They are risk-takers.
They are presidents and chairmen of boards; they are people who have, mostly by their own means, their own skills, achieved what could be considered great wealth.
Socializing does help, but you must define what you want from both your private and professional life. I have never met a client at a cocktail party (Rense, 1980).”
In 1986, he was appointed to the Interior Design Hall of Fame and received the 1987 Bride’s magazine award for excellence. The Smithsonian Institution chose him as one of the nation’s top eight designers in its “Giants of Interior Design” program.
Rense, P. (1980, September 1). Decorating for Celebrities: Interviews with Twenty of the World’s Best Interior Designers. https://doi.org/10.1604/9780385148108
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