Designers: John C Jay and Janet Jay/Studio J; Lighting design: Yuri Kinoshita; Client: Ping Restaurant, Andy Ricker, Kurt Huffman, John C Jay, Janet Jay
runs Studio J
, an independent creative consultancy located in Portland's Old Town/Chinatown, where they develop new lifestyle concepts, products and experiences, from residences to restaurants.
One such development project is a floating home on the Columbia River inspired by the Minka style of Japanese rural architecture.
Another is the James Beard Award-nominated restaurant Ping
, of which Studio J
is part owner.
is trying to bring a new vision and energy to the area," says Jay
"My goal is to help shape a new creative corridor of this city based upon contemporary Asian creativity and culture.
So, if successful, my next 'adventure' is the creative direction of a full city block in Chinatown."
If it seems as though Jay
is constantly working, then you have the right impression.
has an almost limitless passion for creating and delights in sharing his
enthusiasm with others.
For the last 15 years, he
has hosted art salons with the sole purpose of bringing together artists of varied disciplines, from graphic design to painting to journalism.
credits Diane Von Furstenberg, whose now-legendary gatherings he
attended in the 1980s in her
then-expansive Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking the Metropolitan Museum
in New York, with the perfection of the format.
desire to bring creative people together, he
says, "It has nothing to do with making money... nothing to do with getting work.
It's about being a conduit for culture and information."
thinks quite a bit about culture and information, and approaches branding with a prescience that has allowed him to anticipate trends and tell people exactly the stories they want to hear.
For W+K Tokyo
in 1999, Jay
, tasked with creating new basketball mythologies in a post-Michael Jordan world, turned to Japanese hip-hop, a genre that was then finding its voice and beginning to embrace its own cultural relevance.
saw a chance to tell the compelling stories of three new athletes Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Jason "White Chocolate" Williams through the prism of that musical genre and lifestyle.
By 1997 Nike sales had swelled to $9.2 billion; at the same time Jay
was cultivating an antiestablishment identity for the athletic brand with a campaign centered on street basketball and captured in an award-winning book, Soul of the Game.
One of the traits that make Jay unique in the advertising world is his
genuine appreciation of the opportunities his
success has created, perhaps because he
didn't always have them.
The first child of Chinese immigrants living in Columbus, Ohio, Jay
grew up sharing one large backroom at his
parents' business, a laundry.
picked up his
first English words by watching car commercials on television.
would stand on a corner downtown watching traffic, "spotting the cars, matching their shapes to the commercials and practicing the 'sound' of their logo," he
More than once, he
got in trouble with his
parents for drawing on their walls.
Those early drawings often depicted the toys he
owned-robots, space guns, airplanes-and the Art Deco LeVeque Tower, then Columbus' tallest building.
All of it-the drawing, the early obsessions with cars, architecture and toy space guns-might have led him to a career in industrial design had Jay
family known that such a path existed.
It wasn't until he was a student at Ohio State University that a friend suggested he take a course in visual communications.
was devouring European design magazines in the university library.
"It was startlingly new," says Jay
, and he
was finally in his
Although his new calling was initially a tough sell with his (eventually supportive) parents, Jay graduated from OSU in 1971 with a visual communications degree.
is continually actualizing those lessons in his
In October 2009 Studio J
organized an exhibition of contemporary Chinese design, "The Jelly Generation," in the Old Town neighborhood.
And in late 2009 he
and hotelier Alex Calderwood co-edited and creative-directed an issue of Arkitip magazine celebrating, of all things, great collaborations.
How does he
sustain all of this constant self-reinvention?
"It's still fun.
That's why I work so hard," says Jay