Category Archives: LIBRARIES

Thanksgiving in Palm Beach

The Breakers, Palm Beach, lit up for the Holidays

The Breakers, Palm Beach, lighted for the holidays

For the past decade, my art dealer husband William Secord  and I have spent Thanksgiving in London or Paris. Our families would ask, “Are you coming for the holidays?” but we would head overseas. This year we’ll be eating our turkey at the house of friends in Palm Beach, where we’ll be spending the break in our West Palm Beach apartment with Rocky, our Dandie Dinmont terrier.

Bruce Bierman's Dandie Dinmont terrier, in the West Palm Beach apartment

Rocky, Bruce Bierman’s Dandie Dinmont terrier, takes it easy in West Palm Beach.

The living room of Bruce Bierman's West Palm Beach apartment. Sargent Architectural Photography

The apartment living room. Sargent Architectural Photography

As with all New Yorkers, our life in the city is incredibly hectic, and we plan to take it nice and easy down in Florida. But it won’t be all R&R. I actually have a client meeting at noon on Thanksgiving Day itself, as well as having three projects in Palm Beach that are all currently in the installation phase—a process that can be incredibly detailed, down to stocking the clients’ refrigerator (in some cases, even matching its content to that of the fridge in their New York apartment). The projects are located in two legendary Palm Beach resort properties: one is a penthouse in The Biltmore; the other two are in The Breakers, which I get an incredible view of from my 30th-floor apartment.

View of the Breakers hotel in Palm Beach from Bruce Bierman's apartment in West Palm Beach

 The view of Palm Beach and The Breakers from Bruce Bierman’s 30th-floor apartment in West Palm Beach.

But I have more than a strong visual relationship with The Breakers. I’ve actually designed six apartments (one of them twice) in the 40-apartment complex over the years. One client, who I’ve known for 30 years, is herself an interior designer but incredibly we did not disagree about anything!

Penthouse apartment in The Breakers, Palm Beach, by Bruce Bierman

 At The Breakers, the library in a penthouse Bruce Bierman designed for a client who is herself an interior designer


Albert Hadley, 1920–2012

When Albert Hadley died in March, we lost the most influential contemporary master of American interior design.  As the New York Times obituary succinctly put it, “His taste was relatively spare and modernist, but he was willing to mix ideas, drawing on a deep knowledge of design history. And reflecting his own moderate temperament, he had a keen sense of how much was too much and how much was not enough.” His was a quintessentially American aesthetic—sophisticated yet unpretentious, elegant yet practical—that we’ve all learned from and aspire to. We wrote about Mr. Hadley most recently a year ago, when Tim Button and Barry Goralnick ran into him at the preview for a Sotheby’s auction of some of his furniture. Here some Designers Collaborative members share reminiscences of and thoughts about the great designer.

Albert Hadley in his New York City apartment

Albert Hadley in his New York City apartment

Scott Bromley: I met Albert soon after I arrived in New York in 1965, fresh out of architecture school in Montreal. He was a great friend of the textile designer Alan Campbell who was my neighbor on West 55th Street and introduced us. Albert remained a pal through the years and always encouraged me in my endeavors. In fact, he was one of those who strongly urged me to go out on my own in 1974. He will be much missed!

The living room at Cherryfields, Mrs. Nancy Buck Pyne's country house in Peapack, NJ, designed by Parish Hadley in 1963

The living room at Cherryfields, Mrs. Nancy Buck Pyne’s country house in Peapack, New Jersey, designed by Parish Hadley in 1963

Tim Button: I have been thinking about Mr. Hadley and how Barry Goralnick and I ran into him at the preview for the auction of his things at Sotheby’s. He was so gracious, as he always was whenever I saw him at design  events, even though I don’t think he remembered me. I’ve also been thinking about how such an impeccably well-mannered gentleman must have run his projects—the iron fist inside the most velvet of gloves—to make them come out flawlessly time after time. He must have had a fantastic grasp of human character to have worked so successfully and so repeatedly for that roster of formidable clients—Astors, Rockefellers, Bronfmans, Paleys, Gettys, Whitneys, and Mellons, just to name a few. What a remarkable man !

Brooke Astor's Manhattan library designed by Albert Hadley

With its red-lacquer-and-brass bookshelves, the library in Brooke Astor’s apartment from the 1970s is one of Albert Hadley’s most famous and influential rooms

Ron Bricke: I was a recent Parsons interior design graduate in the 1960s when I  first viewed Albert Hadley’s work. I had the opportunity of attending an exhibition at Cooper Union, which included a room by Albert Hadley.  It was staggering in its simplicity and ease—elegant, extraordinary, livable.  I remember being  was particularly stunned by the woven cellophane curtains. Altogether, a masterpiece. Not only was Mr. Hadley a brilliant designer, he was also (to steal a word from Clodagh) a thoroughbred of a type I have never experienced before or since.

The study in Albert Hadley's own Manhattan apartment

The study in Albert Hadley’s own Manhattan apartment

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Reading Over Your Shoulder: Bookshelves Behind Sofas

We may be moving into the Age of the iPad and the Kindle, but real printed-on-paper books–with their irreplaceable mix of aesthetic, sensual, and intellectual delights–are not going to disappear any time soon. One of the great pleasures for an interior designer is accommodating  a client’s library, and one of the most satisfying solutions is to  put shelves behind a comfortable sofa, so that favorite books are always within arm’s reach. Here are some winning examples of this time-tested strategy by members of Designers Collaborative.

Books behind a sofa in an East Hampton library-dining room by Tim Button and Stedila Design

Tim Button: At Stedila Design we created a warm and welcoming reading nook in this small East Hampton dining room/library by dedicating an entire wall to shelving. In front we put an alcove-spanning settee, mounting sconces at each end for great reading light. It’s an open invitation to curl up with a good book.

Books behind a sofa in a library by Glenn Gissler

Glenn Gissler: This Manhattan apartment library uses many of the reading room’s classic elements–floor-to-ceiling shelves, leather-upholstered sofas, a patterned rug, table lamps–but thanks to the careful use of proportion, color, and scale, the feeling is lightly modern rather than heavily traditional.

Books behind a sofa in a library by Barry Goralnick

Barry Goralnick: I designed this understated study/guest room in a large Central Park West apartment for an author and professor. The wife of an acclaimed actor, she wanted a table, not a desk, so we purchased this one from Lee Calicchio Antiques. The sofa, a custom sleeper of my design, sits in a niche surrounded by handsome mahogany bookshelves and cabinets; the adjacent window provides excellent light for reading. The William Freed painting over the table is from Acme Fine Art in Boston.

Books behind a sofa in Michael Kors apartment designed by Glenn Gissler

  Glenn Gissler: Almost like an abstract work of art, book-lined shelves add a dash of color to the mostly black, brown, and white palette of this Greenwich Village penthouse apartment I designed for fashion maestro Michael Kors. The sofa and coffee table are modern classics by Florence Knoll.  

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