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Natural Selections

A peek inside the owner of Hejfina boutique’s down-to-earth loft

Style to spare: Heiji Choy Black, who owns one of the city’s coolest boutiques, in her living room

 

The owner: Heiji Choy Black, design and fashion maven and proprietor of the Hejfina lifestyle boutique in Wicker Park. (Her husband, Brian Black, is a hedge fund manager by day and bluegrass musician by night.) The digs: A large multilevel Wicker Park loft with glass block windows, exposed bricks, and lots of light. The aesthetic: Earthy modern. “I researched and visited the Eames House in California, and it left a very strong impression on me,” she says. “I love how there is a big tree growing in the middle of the space, how it’s modern, but it still has Oriental rugs and feels warm and comfortable. I have trouble being neat and pristine. Fuss and austerity grosses me out.” How she honed her taste: Choy Black grew up in Virginia, “hyper-aware of fashion, art, and architecture,” she says. “My mom took me to every museum, I went to camp in France, I traveled to Korea to visit family.” And perhaps most telling, “My parents were modernists: We had a Le Corbusier sofa set.” The art of communing: “I love entertaining. We host a dinner party probably once a month and about two big parties a year,” says Choy Black, who designed her mahogany kitchen herself (the Giuletta bar (1) stools are from Design Within Reach). Dinner may be served at her chunky, organic-feeling Crate & Barrel Big Sur dining table, but the most memorable hanging out takes place in her living room, “which I love because it’s this communal, cozy spot where my closest friends can come, sip wine, and talk late into the night,” she says. They sit on simple, decidedly non-plush matching couches from (2) Orange Skin (decorated with bright pillows (3) by Judy Ross, which Choy Black picked up at Auto in New York) or on matching vintage gray leather Milo Baughman armchairs (4), purchased at a Wright auction. The Rug Company carpet (5) is “not the most modern, but what’s important is that it’s handmade, it’s like a piece of art in itself, and it gives the room an incredible warmth,” says Choy Black. The ipe-framed mirror (6) and Arco lamp (7) are from Design Within Reach, the coffee table (8) is from now-closed Abode, and the most recent purchase, a pagaya tree-trunk end table (9), is from Jayson Home and Garden. Her peeps: Pieces by the furniture designers Choy Black represents in her showroom are also on display in her home, including a sleek, room-dividing bookcase (10) by Michael Koehler in the living room and a walnut bedframe (11) by Ism’s Andrew Kephart in her bedroom. Referring to the latter, she says, “I wanted a substantial and clean-lined bed that incorporated nightstand space to minimize the number of pieces of furniture in the room.” (The groovy lamp (12) that occupies said “nightstand” is vintage ’60s from the now-defunct Tragara.) As for her husband: She met Brian Black at one of her own parties, at which he wowed her with his knowledge of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. While he owes much of his recently acquired design savvy to his wife, he did bring to the marriage some of the couple’s best artwork, including an original photograph of Pablo Picasso taken by André Villers. Chicago artists, too, are well represented in the Black home: drawings by Tony Fitzpatrick hang in the dining area and a photograph by Doug Fogelson (13) hangs above the couple’s bed. In the mailbox: Magazines. A lot of them. “I subscribe to like 20,” she says. “Metropolis, Dwell, The New Yorker. And all of the fashion magazines.”

 

Photography: Andreas Larsson

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