Edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 10/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Albert Hadley: The Story of America's Preeminent Interior Designer
by Adam Lewis with Albert Hadley
New York: Rizzoli International Publications, $65
240 pages, 200 illustrations
On the heels of last spring's Albert Hadley: Drawings and the Design Process comes a full-fledged biography that's a welcome addition to the literature on a man who became one of the earliest members of this magazine's Hall of Fame. That young organization would have had little credibility without him, for he was then at the top of the profession—as he remains today. (He just received the Parsons School of Design's inaugural Centurion Award for Design Excellence.)
Author Adam Lewis previously wrote a biography of Van Day Truex, the esteemed former president of Parsons. (Hadley contributed a graceful foreword.) In that case, Lewis seemed more interested in his subject's wardrobe and dinner companions than in his thoughts on design. So it's a relief—even if we occasionally hear about Hadley's black cashmere turtlenecks and meetings with Brooke Astor and the Duchess of Windsor—that the real subject of this new book is design.
And what wonderful design it is. We see Rosedown, the 1836 Louisiana plantation he redecorated while at McMillen; his work with Sister Parish at the Kennedy-era White House; a striking corrugated-steel house in New Jersey; the yellow drawing room at William and Babe Paley's New York apartment; an executive office for the Bank of New York; four years of his Kips Bay Decorator Show House rooms; his own New York apartment, with its red-painted foyer; and a dozen spreads of his fabrics and wallpapers. Many of these are shown with Hadley's wonderfully free but precisely informative sketches.
The book's foreword is by Annette de la Renta, whose own Maine and New York residences Hadley designed, and Lewis cites many of his other A-list admirers. A telling quote comes from Pilar Viladas, design editor of the New York Times Magazine: "Albert Hadley is the undisputed dean of American decorators, but his New York apartment is 10 times fresher than that of your average 29-year-old upstart. He knows the rules so well that he can break them with aplomb—and without the self-conscious posing that often afflicts the young."
Buckminster Fuller: Designing for Mobility
by Michael John Gorman
Milan: Gruppo Editoriale Skira, distributed by Rizzoli International Publications, $65
208 pages, 253 illustrations
Writings on Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller have been prolific. (Including those by Fuller himself.) But this book has the advantage of author Michael John Gorman's access to the Fuller archive, housed at Stanford University. Another plus is a slightly different emphasis: a focus on the mobility of his designs for shelter. His famous house in Wichita, Kansas, for example, has moved to Michigan, and he engineered many of his signature domes to be lightweight enough for delivery by helicopter. Also superior, the unusually attractive book design by Marcello Francone features some images never published before. More than most designers' projects, Fuller's prompt us to rethink basic assumptions—so his work deserves to be presented in a format that's new and improved.
What They're Reading...
Richard C. Peters, Retired chair of the architecture department at the University of California, Berkeley
The Sea Ranch
by Donlyn Lyndon
New York: Princeton Architectural Press, $66
304 pages, 200 illustrations (30 color)
From 1965 until today, the Sea Ranch housing complex on the California coast has been continually growing, built in past years to the design specifications of Charles Moore, William Turnbull, Richard Whitaker, Joseph Esherick, and author Donlyn Lyndon himself. "It's the single most important development scheme of the 20th century," says Peters, who finds Lyndon's book on the project a "wonderful anthology of ideas about how houses and places relate." Additional attractions are supporting essays and Jim Alinder's photography.