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Publishing Magnate Richard Klein Prefers Pretty Over Practical in His Flat

Rare is the day when a homeowner admits to making design decisions driven by form rather than function, or maybe Richard Klein, founder of LGBT network dot429 and its signature glossy, FourTwoNine magazine, is just more forthright than most.

At first glance, his Duboce Triangle home—the middle flat in a 1905 Victorian—appears to be the thoroughly modern and totally practicable space you’d expect from the former owner of art and design bible Surface. You might be surprised to find out that, according to Klein, the undulating orange velvet Capellini sofa in the living room is not very comfortable, despite its welcoming curves. Or that, in typical Victorian fashion, his home has two lilliputian living rooms—separated by a hearth that’s ornamental at best—rather than one gracious space. Or that the room Klein uses as his office is the only square footage in the pad that isn’t boosted with performance-enhancing WiFi.

“I work from the couch, so my desk has turned into a display top for odds and ends,” says Klein, who moved back to San Francisco in 2012 after a short stint in New York. Where a desktop computer was intended, there now exists a menagerie of collectibles, including a framed postcard of Yves Saint Laurent’s home in Marrakech, a few vintage ink pens, and a carved book by New York designer Dror Benshetrit (a score from 2009 Art Basel Miami Beach).

Because the tableau’s functional transgressions are mostly in service to Klein’s enviable collection of art, they are easily forgiven. For instance, the narrow wall that houses the fireplace and partially divides the living rooms is mirrored in size and scale by Klein’s prized possession, a sizable Barry McGee painting, proceeds from the sale of which were donated to arts education—reason enough for Klein to make the buy, stratospheric street cred notwithstanding. A James Nares oil-on-linen, acquired in a barter, has a single, expressive brushstroke rendered in brilliant blue; it hangs opposite the orange Capellini for a classic color pairing. One treasured print, however, is bewilderingly functional and dysfunctional all at once: Andy Warhol’s macabre work Electric Chair hangs above the headboard in the tranquil master bedroom; its nightmarish qualities are somehow nullified by the soothing mint-green ink, a rare variant of the silkscreen print. “I don’t even know what to say about its placement,” says Klein. “Except that it belongs there, like everything else in this place, logic be damned.”

Photography by Mimi Giboin 

This article was published in 7x7's July/August 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.