Designer Jae Joo combines multiple sensibilities—and two adjacent apartments in New York City’s Flatiron neighborhood—to create a modern, minimalist, eccentric space for a young real-estate developer.
Photos by Nick Glimenakis
“Starting with a blank canvas is the way to go, and we did just that,” saysof her experience redesigning the home of a young real-estate developer. That blank canvas? Not one, but two adjacent sun-drenched lofts in Flatiron, which she was tasked with combining into one cohesive 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom apartment. Even as blank canvases go, this one qualifies as a special kind of treat. So when it came to picking a direction, Jae refrained from reducing the space to just one label.
“I don’t ever like to have a general theme or a concept when we start a project,” she reveals. “Everyone can have their style preference, but calling it something before it happens just feels boring and limiting to me. I just made sure we paid attention to each and every piece we bought.”
Jae’s client was equally as eager to dive into researching the design elements as she was. Together, they pored over fabric and finishes, creating a modern, organic space that balances stark white walls with black architectural lines, many of which come from the custom work of James Ramsey of Raad Studio. To balance his clever contributions to the space (like glass doors that convert an office to a private bedroom and cordon off the kitchen area and a sleek hidden bar), Jae amped up the atmosphere with her signature blend of minimalist luxury.
To create a modernist, eclectic space for her client, she started with a largely pared-down palette, sprinkling in pops of color through sumptuous upholstery and art. For the master bedroom, she sourced a set of vintage chairs and ottomans and covered them in stunning Pierre Frey Teddy mohair.
“I found those on eBay late at night and they were in a pretty scary condition even in the photos,” Jae explains. “I was hesitant to show them to my clients but they kind of loved it. Now they feel and look amazing.”
In a guest room, she used the same fabric to reupholster an Eames recliner, which ties back to cerulean blue throw pillows on the bed. (Eames is a favorite of the client’s—its his dog’s name as well.)
Jae drew from a range of sensibilities to create a stunning patchwork of styles. The resulting design centers around the apartment’s show-stopping pieces—think a delicious Dmitriy & Co couch, a graphic Madeline Weinrib rug, and a Vonnegut Kraft crescent lounge daybed in the living room.
“I think mixing and matching is the key to creating an interesting space,” Jae reveals.
“I was looking at a lot of eclectic European designs very heavy in upholstery, patterns, and colors,” Jae explains. “It inspired me to go full swing with mixing and matching fabric and style.”
She then selected accents with big personality, like the sculptural side tables and a leather swing chair in library. Jae and her client also spent significant time sourcing lighting from all over the world. The light fixture from Apparatus, which hovers above the dining table is particularly transfixing. Equally mesmerizing is the TV that emerges from the master bedroom at the push of a button—a feature that will instantly make you feel transported to an ultra-stylish James Bond set.
“I wanted this space to feel livable and cozy without losing its eccentricity,” she shares.