Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Demise of an Iconic Room

Recently, I attended a wonderful lecture at the Hillwood Estate here in Washington DC, that was given by New York designer and historian, Michael Simon and the author of Jansen by James Archer Abbott. Somehow during the lecture, the subject of Albert Hadley's famous red lacquered library he designed for Brooke Astor came up. I was absolutely stunned to learn from Mr. Abbott that one of the 20th centuries most iconic rooms had become a victim of the wrecking ball so to speak. If this information is incorrect I hope someone who knows will let me know. But after Mrs. Astor passed away I didnt really give the room much thought but would have assumed that whoever bought her apartment would have had the taste, respect and appreciation for such a great room and to preserve it accordingly.

The conversation turned to the interesting question of whether great modern rooms, such as the red lacquered library, should be preserved the same way the period rooms at the Met or the Musee Art et Decoratifs have been. I personally think Albert Hadley's masterpiece would have been a perfect candidate. What do you think?

It also made me think of other rooms that have sadly had the same fate. 

Nelson Rockefeller's New York apartment designed by Jean Michel Frank.

The smoking room designed by Michael Taylor for Dodie Rosekrans in San Francisco. 

Cole Porter's timeless library designed by Billy Balwin.
(Watercolor by the late great Mark Hampton)


Coulda shoulda woulda said...

Very true - if buildings and the exterior that houses these rooms can be listed or preserved via statute I dont see how the room itself where people actually spend time and create memories shouldn't be given that same privilege.

Loi Thai, Tone on Tone said...

Michael, that's a tough one. Because I respect, admire and appreciate a well designed room, I agree it is a shame to destroy / alter those iconic rooms. But the home is so personal. Sometimes I wonder if historic preservation should apply to certain interiors. xo Loi

Mrs. Darcy said...

Hi Michael, I just met you on Mama's lake island post (the birdie). You have a delightful blog. Can't wait to go through it with more time.

I am equally miffed at the thought of Mrs. Astor's red lacquered library possibly becoming a memory. Being selfish, who in their right mind would ever want to change it.

(Leaving birdie behind to take a new name here.)

Michael Hampton said...

Hi Darcy,

Thanks for your comments and I agree! Look forward to checking out your blog too!