1920 — 2012
Albert Hadley, of Albert Hadley, Inc., was a friend of the Show from the very beginning. His leadership and vision were essential in developing national credibility in the early years. Mr. Hadley’s great sense of sophistication and national reputation set the tone early on, attracting top U.S. designers and lecturers, and allowing the Show to continue recruiting the best and most forward-thinking speakers.
The story of American interior design cannot be told without a good portion devoted to the career of Nashville-born
Albert Livingstone Hadley, Jr., America’s preeminent interior designer. Hadley’s handiwork is found anywhere restraint, flexibility of style and contextually appropriate design are valued. He informed a young associate, “Statements are a dime a dozen.” That same Hadley disciple, now an architect, told a The New York Times reporter of the invaluable lesson he learned from the Master: “He taught me that I’m not supposed to have a signature,” the architect said. “I’m supposed to be telling the client’s story, not my own.”
Since moving to New York City in 1947, Hadley has mentored young designers, many of them now among the ranks of our most noted A-list interior designers. During more than 30 years as one the two principals of Parish-Hadley Associates, the decorating firm of choice for bluebloods and society types, Hadley’s talents attracted so many artistic disciples that his aesthetic DNA is now found virtually everywhere one finds tasteful and timeless interiors.
Hadley’s work is legendary, not solely through association with famous clients and legendary rooms such as the Kennedy White House and the homes of Brooke Astor, Babe Paley, and Happy Rockefeller. He’s not one to coast on legendary works or a star client roster. In a 2004 interview with New York magazine he said, “But names really are not the point,” he says. “It’s what you can achieve for the simplest person. Glamour is part of it, but glamour is not the essence. Design is about discipline and reality, not about fantasy beyond reality.”
In the same interview, Hadley noted that many of today’s designers create projects that strive for sophistication but somehow look exactly the same. “They’re all doing beige rooms.” He expressed the wish that young designers would take more time to educate themselves about Versailles and the twenties and “ancient history.” “It’s all about acquiring a richer vocabulary,” he said. “Today, because of magazines and all the advice that’s out there, people know what the game is. And everybody knows they can go on the Internet and get this or that. The whole attitude has changed.As beautiful and fanciful as one might wish to be in this business, it really is about real people and real lives and real situations.”
Hadley once summed up his artistry saying, “Decorating is not about making stage sets, it’s not about making pretty pictures for the magazines; it’s really about creating a quality of life, a beauty that nourishes the soul.”