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A Bachelorette Loft Goes Bachelor

Kismet played a role in this Bowery loft, which the tenant found hours after he learned he had to move.

Photo: Vincent Dilio
Photo: Vincent Dilio

Justin von der Fehr has had lightning strike at least twice. The first time he was just out of boarding school — sleeping on a friend’s sofa in New York City, wondering what he was going to do with his life — when a Ford Models agent stopped him on the street and later sent him on a go-see to meet photographer Steven Meisel. Meisel asked him to be at a location van at 4:30 a.m. the next day. That shoot led to a cover on Per Lui, an Italian men’s fashion magazine, jump-starting a career as a supermodel, now a mere chapter in von der Fehr’s creative story.

After a stint in Los Angeles, where he founded JvdF, his design business, he decided that he wanted to move back to New York and work on different design initiatives. What followed were collaborations with the Standard Hotel, Goop, Vogue Italia, and Dia Art Foundation. As of last year, his company disbanded and he started freelancing as a creative director for larger projects, one of which is working with Melanie Courbet, who opened a branch of her gallery, Les Ateliers Courbet, in Miami last year. They are now preparing for a case study that will reinterpret the Surf Club in Miami this December.

The Bowery loft von der Fehr has lived in for the past four years was the result of another round of kismet. The day after he learned he had to vacate the White Street loft he’d been renting, his friend, restaurateur Heather Tierney, asked him if he knew anyone who wanted to take over her loft, as she was going to open a second restaurant, the Butcher’s Daughter, in L.A. Boom. Von der Fehr took over the lease and has added his own informal panache to the interior. A model sailboat that von der Fehr’s grandfather used to sail in the boat pond in Central Park sits on the custom cabinetry framed by the original wood beams of the loft. The dining table, seen above, designed by Harvey Probber, is paired with original Eames chairs that von der Fehr recovered in red velvet fabric from Rosen & Chadick Fabrics “I love juxtaposing industrial with luxury,” he says.

The living area at the far end of the loft by the windows has a 1930s leather couch found at Holler & Squall on Atlantic Avenue that von der Fehr doctored by recovering the worn-out seat cushions with lush emerald-green velvet mohair from Rosen & Chadick Fabrics; the curtains in a different color are the same material. Von der Fehr says he “machine cold-washed and dried the custom velvet curtains to create a better drape and flow.” Photo: Vincent Dilio
Opposite, the two French ’30s slipper chairs are from Holler & Squall, and the area rug is from Restoration Hardware. The pair of standing lamps flanking the TV stand are from Lawson-Fenning in Los Angeles. The artwork above is by John Baldessari. The cherrywood cabinet to the right is by Arne Vodder, found on 1stdibs. Photo: Vincent Dilio
The mid-century Danish boxed bookshelves on the wall framing von der Fehr’s desk were found at Rago Auctions. His desk is from Herman Miller, and the photograph above is by Dirk Braeckman. Photo: Vincent Dilio
The kitchen centers on a ’50s Swedish farm table von der Fehr found upstate. “I had the marble top cut to size by a local stone guy here in the city,” he says. “When I have dinners, we tend to never make it over to the dining table anymore, but then we end up spending all night drinking and chatting away around it!” The stools were purchased from a movie prop house “for next to nothing,” he says, and the butcher block against the wall was inherited from Heather Tierney, who used it as her kitchen island. “It’s so heavy that it took five guys to move it,” von der Fehr says. Photo: Vincent Dilio
Von der Fehr treats himself to a bit of luxury in his bedroom with Pratesi sheets. “I bought them at the Pratesi outlet,” he says. “I have a few sets by various makers, all with the classic hemstitch, which I have then painted over — those lines you see are actually hand done by me. I like to mess with the overly traditional feel. The portrait above the bed is by Sergei Sviatchenko who gifted it to me. He runs this fantastic website on style and substance out of Denmark called Close Up and Private.”The original photo of James Dean on the right wall is by Phil Stern. “It is still one of my all-time favorite images, regardless of being a James Dean fan — who isn’t? I completely relate to the entire emotion and feel of the image,” von der Fehr says. The cherrywood wall unit is by Kai Kristiansen, and above that there is a photograph by Raymond Cauchetier of Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo during the filming of the movie, Breathless. “He was part of the original French New Wave, having been a war photographer before meeting Jean-Luc Godard, the director of Breathless, who let Raymond become the first photographer to be allowed behind the scenes of any of his movies. Fun fact.” Photo: Vincent Dilio
A Bachelorette Loft Goes Bachelor