Studio J’s paneled glass walls give John C Jay (pictured at right) and his wife, Janet, a view of Portland’s Old Town Chinatown, while furnishings such as a B&B Italia sofa, a West Elm desk, and a vintage Scandinavian divider screen add a residential feel to their repository of art and objects.
portrait by Brandon Shigeta
It’s a blue-skied late-Friday afternoon at Studio J in
Portland’s Old Town Chinatown neighborhood, and light is pouring in through two walls of paneled glass. But as usual, John C Jay is too busy to bask in the sunshine, with meetings and events scheduled far into the evening. He’s also barely unpacked. “I was in Japan three times in the last five weeks,” says John, who since 1993 has worked in a variety of leadership roles at Wieden+Kennedy, the acclaimed Portland advertising agency, including opening the Tokyo office and running it between 1997 and 2003. With his current role as the president and executive creative director of GX—an independent creative agency that has W+K as an investor—he now travels to Tokyo almost monthly. (See page 90 for his snapshots.) Named one of the 10 most influential creative directors of the past 50 years by Graphic Design USA, John has always pursued a variety of side projects, from guest-editing magazines to real estate development. Five years ago, he and his wife, Janet, the former head of marketing for Diane Von Furstenberg and international product manager at Estée Lauder, founded Studio J, a creative consultancy run out of a historic commercial building just down the street from the ad agency. Together they undertake a range of creative business projects, from co-founding a former nearby restaurant, Ping, to working with acclaimed architect Brad Cloepfil on a spec house in Portland’s West Hills. They also host author readings and dinner parties at Studio J. Most recently, the space has become a headquarters for Janet’s new line of Pearl+ Luxury Soaps, which began as a personal project but now supplies in-room amenities for the hip Ace Hotel chain. “John and I work differently but great together,” Janet says. “The studio gives us a physical space to be when involved in » GRAY ISSUE No. SIXTEEN