Arts & Culture
Fairfax Dorn: bringing art to utility
The Ballroom Marfa co-founder is making her mark with her first Kips Bay Decorator Show House room.
Who says a laundry room needs to be purely functional?
To Fairfax Dorn, principal of interior design collective, Fairfax Dorn Projects (FDP), no space is off-limits for art.
Her “Impressions of Pompeii” laundry room—Dorn’s contribution to this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House—features a mélange of art and design objects, including wooden works by Ukrainian-American artist Louise Nevelson from Pace Gallery.
It takes cues from its Jennifer Shorto Pompeii Blue wallpaper, which mixes Italian animal-filled frescos with Art Deco geometries. Shorto’s cerulean textiles also inspired the room’s cool-toned palette. Mindful of the home’s historic era, Dorn opted to paint the original moldings in a dusty blue. “It’s the kind of space where you can cut flowers, or sit and take a call,” she says.
“It was an interesting challenge to figure out how to make a laundry room feel special and serene,” says Dorn, who has a “soft spot” for these practical alcoves. “In New York, laundry rooms tend to be teeny tiny or in a hallway, so having a fancy one is the ultimate luxury.”
This year’s fundraiser—which benefits the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Clubs and is back after a three-year hiatus—is grander than ever. Dorn is one of 22 designers and architects (among them such industry titans as Mary McDonald and Timothy Corrigan) charged with transforming the sprawling 1902 River Mansion on 106th and Riverside into a ready-to-sell space.
The designer’s calling card is making blue-chip collections feel warm and approachable. “We love to create spaces that feel inviting and serene. We are a real hybrid between art and design in the way we work,” she says of the approach at FDP.
The Texas native first wowed the design world two decades ago as co-founder of the nonprofit contemporary arts foundation, Ballroom Marfa, whose iconic Prada Marfa commission forever transformed the rural town in 2005.
She went on to establish the design collective in 2017, two years after marrying Pace Gallery President and CEO, Marc Glimcher, and moving her home base to New York City, as she increasingly helped clients source collectible art and design for their interiors.
In the homes of her loyal art-world clients, a Yoshitomo Nara drawing, Gio Ponti mirror, and vintage Italian sconces can even have pride of place in a powder room.
Dorn’s presence in the city expanded earlier this year with the opening of FDP Collection, which joins the gallery of showrooms at Showplace in Chelsea. The “evolving and experimental” space features a rotating mix of art, objects, and furniture from her vintage inventory.
The Show House is open to the public through June 6.