The Company He Keeps

Photographs by Douglas Friedman

Federico de Vera likes being surrounded by people—“silent people,” he clarifies, namely portraiture subjects with imagined psyches and made-up names, like Gay Napoleon and Mean German. Objects with rich psychic lives are a specialty in De Vera’s two eponymous shops—one in Soho and a soon-to-open location on the Upper East Side—known for their “anti-retail” mix of artwork, antiques, and jewelry. A similar bohemian grandeur enlivens the apartment De Vera shares with partner Randy Saunders, at 20 Pine Street in the financial district, an area not often associated with aesthetic provocateurs. “It wasn’t necessarily the neighborhood that sold us,” says De Vera. “It was the building and its amenities,” which include sleek Armani/Casa kitchens and bathrooms and a basement pool and spa. Even a man with a classicist’s taste for Viennese glass and Turkish carpets can go weak-kneed for an indoor pool.

Weird and Sublime
“Portraits have become my obsession,” says Federico de Vera, whose living room mixes mostly nineteenth-century works with contemporary pieces, including three by Brooklyn painter Jenny Dubnau. All photographs by Douglas Friedman

The Entrance Hall
The metal-wire area rug separating the living room and bedroom is by Jorge Lizarazo. De Vera brought back the wood statue of the Virgin of the Sorrows from the Philippines. The painting is nineteenth century and German, while the red chair against the wall is by Donald Judd.

The Study
De Vera designed the anodized aluminum chair with dyed nylon cords to evoke Anni Albers textiles. The wood plank used for a desktop (upon which sits a Cindy Sherman photo) came from De Vera’s native Philippines. The cloth shade for the hanging lamp is from a Tibetan temple.

The Bedroom Pedestal
De Vera designed the bell jar and pedestal, while the Bimini Werkstätte glass figures (Viennese, circa 1920) are mostly gifts from friend Reneé Price, who is the director of the Neue Gallerie.

The Bedroom
There was very little storage in the apartment, so De Vera and Saunders added a mirrored wall that doubles as closet space. The French antique wood doors were found in San Francisco. The bed is from the German furniture designers e15. The couple’s Chihuahua, Diego, sleeps in a Scandinavian doghouse in the corner.

Sitting Pretty
Artist-designer Richard Saja embroidered the toile-covered wing chair and pillow in the study.

The Company He Keeps