Design 5 Swoon Worthy Things:

Claire Distenfeld, Fivestory

It takes distinct vision, plus what we can only imagine to be massive drive and elbow grease, to start out working in the art world and then switch gears and open a luxury boutique on the Upper East side. And that’s exactly what owner Claire Distenfeld did in creating multilevel fashion mecca Fivestory, all while she was in her mid-20s. Not only is Claire incredibly talented, she’s also testament to a philosophy we at EyeSwoon wholeheartedly share — you don’t have to stick to just one creative discipline when it comes to your career. Here the inspiring entrepreneur and friend shares insight into her design influences, how she came to open her stunning, Ryan Korban-designed store and five things she’s currently coveting for her space.

By Natalie Goel

Claire Distenfeld, Fivestory

NAME: Claire Distenfeld

PROFESSION: Owner of Fivestory


YOUR AESTHETIC IN 3 WORDS: Classic with a curveball, balanced, subtle

DO YOU HAVE ANY DESIGN ICONS? Vladimir Kagan, Les Lalanne, Puiforcat, Donald Judd.

COLOR OR NEUTRAL? Organic patterns in nature (marble, wood, brass) with a pop of jewel-tone velvet.

WE WILL NEVER SEE a super-saturated color (e.g. magenta, bright yellow, orange, etc.) IN YOUR HOME

DESIGN TREND YOU LOVE? Black and white floors, especially in marble, curved velvet couches, especially Vladimir Kagan, interiors by François Champsaur, Lalanne ginkos and sheep, undulating brass coffee tables, carpets by Jan Kath.

ONE YOU WISH WOULD GO AWAY? Oversized big, chunky furniture, picnic tables indoors and barnlike country-style looks in the city.

Claire Distenfeld, Fivestory
Claire Distenfeld, Fivestory

ENDLESSLY OBSESSED WITH: Tony Duquette, Cacao Sampaka Ibiza Sea Salt Dark Chocolate, malachite, Japanese food, hotels, Bernard Buffet, Kees van Dongen, Egon Schiele, Willem de Kooning, Sam Cooke.

HOW AND WHERE YOU SHOP: Hill House Home for all my linens, 1stdibs for pretty much everything else.

BRIEFLY, HOW YOU CAME TO DO WHAT YOU DO: After working in the art world for six years, I began to feel that I wasn’t tapping into all my internal resources. I felt that I had more to tap into than just my fine art side. After making that decision I was very much lost and very much unemployed. I began to explore NYC trying to find as much inspiration as possible. I was looking to discover newness, to be inspired but also to find an outlet for all my unchanneled energies. That is when I realized that the retail landscape of NYC was in need of an experience type of boutique, less about the business side and more about the consumer experience and product assortment.

WHAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK MOST: Meeting as many curious people as possible, living in NYC and endless travel.

Claire Distenfeld, Fivestory
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