The Timeless Eye of Albert Hadley
I learned a great leadership practice from Albert Hadley. When I was in his office as an assistant to David Kleinberg, he and I reorganized the Parish-Hadley sample room. It always struck me as important that Albert paid attention to such a basic task as sorting samples, spending the time deciding on what should be returned and what was worth keeping on the office shelves. This act of his represented both humility and care. It also dawned on me that this was a way, even if it was unintentional, that samples in circulation met his standard.
Thomas Jayne Studio is moving this month and the sample sorting has begun. I was reminded of Albert and have spent time surveying what materials will make the move. It is a truism that one should surround oneself with beauty, and this begins, of course, with beautiful samples.
I remember that leopard was a staple pattern at Albert’s office. I was there in the 1980’s and by that point the more literal copies of leopard were déclassé, but the pattern made on inventive textures and in interesting colors were in active use. The Rose Cummings leopard linen in green and pink was a favorite.
I recounted a great moment with Albert involving the pattern in a tribute I wrote for a book about his drawings, Albert Hadley: Drawings and the Design Process, published by the New York School of Interior Design.
“When I was an assistant at Parish Hadley, Albert would occasionally gather the junior staff for informal discussion about decoration. One afternoon, we studied photographs of early 20th-century French rooms. One plate featured a dressing room covered with mirrored walls, mirrored furniture, and a leopard patterned carpet. The room was handsome, but in the mid-80’s, markedly out of fashion to our eyes, because of the over play of leopard and mirror in recent decoration. I remarked that one could not make the room today. "I could," he gently replied. And he continues to deftly and graciously reinforce the idea that almost any kind of decoration can be done with taste and style.”
There are two practical lessons I take from these stories. They reinforce the notion that surrounding oneself with beautiful things furthers that path to beauty. Things that are beautiful can always be employed in any period or time.
From top: Beautiful samples we decided to take to our new office. A staircase with a leopard carpet in a Meizner house I worked on in Palm Beach. Rose Cummings’ leopard fabrics in yellow, pink, green, and beige. Incidentally, I have long admired leopard; I think you can tell who I am.