Brooke Astor

designers I admire: albert hadley

Imagine my delight when Mr. Austin and I were strolling down Madison Ave in the way that 2 professional shoppers do (that is to say, at a blistering pace, eyes darting about to spot the best shops and window displays and checking out all the bags and shoes on the Upper East Side ladies), and happened upon Gerald Bland Inc. Mr. Bland's walls are almost entirely covered with room drawings by master designer Albert Hadley. Not sure how I missed reading about this exhibit and sale before Portering to NYC, because of course it has been widely covered and I am late to the game here. The opening coincided with this year's Kips Bay Designer Showhouse, which was a salute to Mr. Hadley.

I'm quite glad I just happened upon it, since that was all part of the fun. The highlight by far was the very special very preliminary sketch for the design of Brooke Astor's library. It has to be one of the most famous rooms ever published. And there it was -- a masterpiece of modern interior design -- hastily plotted out in black ink on a cheap piece of yellow lined paper.  It's the kind of paper I used to write out a rough copy of an essay on before doing the "good" copy (Yes, showing my age here -- wrote essays by hand, even in university). Anyway, the point being that was the kind of paper you worked things out on and more often than not just crumpled up and threw away (before recycling). So glad Mr. Hadley didn't have a waste basket or recycling box nearby after that sketch. So glad I got to see it in person so many years later. So sad it couldn't come home with me. 

Not only was the exhibit a thrill, but Mr. Bland was a delight. So handsome and so beautifully dressed. His gallery features an amazing collection of fine and decorative arts. The likes of Alexa Hampton, Carolina Herrera and Daniel Romualdez are among his clients. It didn't seem polite for me to take photos, so here are some images from Gerald Bland's web site. Visit it here. And by all means, if you are headed to New York, do take it in and please bring me back a sketch -- any one will do!

A later sketch of the Brooke Astor library (not on yellow paper).

the interior of Gerald Bland Inc. shown with Albert Hadley sketches on the walls.