It’s about giving form to an idea. It’s about taking what’s inside and realizing it in the world. But in order to do that, you have to know things. You have to know history and art. You have to read and be curious. In order to live amid beauty, you have to be intellectually engaged. This has nothing to do with shopping for furniture. Connoisseurship does not necessarily develop from great wealth.

Albert Hadley

Style and Beauty

Albert Hadley is one of the most important American interior designers of the 20th century and is one of only two interior designers whose work is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution. Along with Sister Parish, his partner at Parish-Hadley, he elevated interior design to a true art form. Hadley was renowned for his warmth, sophistication and masterful sense of proportion and scale. While not necessarily having a style distinct unto himself, Hadley personalized interiors to his high society clientele and often started his designs with a deep consideration for the architectural bones of a space, rather than simply “decorating.” 

Albert Hadley and Sister Parish

Hadley joined Parish's design firm in 1962, leaving the namesake company he established in 1955 after studying and teaching at Parsons. Parish-Hadley Associates was the preeminent design firm in New York City, furnishing homes for the likes of the Astors, the Gettys and Jackie Onassis, as well as designing for the White House and Gracie Mansion. While Parish was often extravagant, Hadley was far more minimal, function-focused and unpretentious; this tension fueled their enduring, iconic interiors. To Hadley, design was “not about making pretty pictures for magazines,” but “creating a quality of life, a beauty that nourishes the soul.”

Albert Hadley Interiors

Flair is a primitive kind of style. It is innate and cannot be taught.. It can be polished and refined. When a person has flair, a grounding in the principles of design, and self-discipline, that person has the potential of being an outstanding designer. The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilized, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what's in or what's out.

Albert Hadley

Deaccessioning, moi?

Mark and Susan Laracy on collecting, ageing, and changing tastes

We started collecting in our early forties, facilitated by the success of the perfume company we founded after Mark’s separation by firing from corporate life. The premise of Parfums de Coeur, “Designer quality fragrances not designer prices”, proved powerful and enduring...we sold it after thirty years of success and profitable growth.

Early on we acquired a noble white brick colonial on nine acres in New Canaan, Connecticut. Designer-magician, Albert Hadley transformed it into a place of great comfort, luxury, and beauty and he became part of our life for twenty six years. We collected American antiques, furniture and art, John Brewster, Amni Phillips, Goddard Townsend. We wanted to project a life of conservative comfort, solid old money—of course, nothing could have been further from the truth!

“Timing IS everything!"

Come 2005, we were empty nesters, Susan decided to depart Connecticut and move to New York City. We wanted change, foreign films, newness. We found a co-op at One Fifth Avenue, starting a long running love affair with Greenwich Village.

In early 2007 we sold our antiques collection and New Canaan house, talk about blessed timing!

Ours proved a familiar collecting arc; brown furniture and folk art gave way to mid-century modern furniture and contemporary art. We were tired of dark; we wanted color, newness, more space! In 2010 a Greenwich Village townhouse came our way. We had never stopped buying and collecting and we were always redecorating!

We continue changing our lives. We are building a new mid-century modern style house in Beverly Hills. Again, we wanted change, to be near our only grandchild, in La La land. We will be bi-coastal—New York and Los Angeles—straight urban energy full on.

Another motivation was realizing Mark has proven unable to maintain three houses; just too, too much. So we are selling our Florida home at the Bears Club and our 1917 Summer home in Weekapaug, Rhode Island.

By now you see the contents of those two houses will not easily fit into one new smaller house, thus our parting ways with these long cherished objects.

On one hand we’re sorry to see these go. However, these memories will always be with us, the wins and misses at so many auctions, Albert Hadley’s special eye on our handful of houses, most of all what a lucky and mostly happy life we have had together. We are passing these on, and, dear reader, we hope these bring you the same pleasures and good fortune we have so enjoyed.

P.S. A mild antidote to the above admitted orgy of fat cat disease: we regularly give to and support Harlem Children’s Zone and KIPP. This, and our two wonderful sons, is what we are most proud of...

Paul McCobb 1917–1969

Paul McCobb studied painting at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston but never completed his course work. With the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the Army Corps of Engineers but was honorably discharged shortly thereafter due to health issues. McCobb moved to New York to work as a product development engineer in the new medium of plastics and in 1945, he opened his own design firm, Paul McCobb Associates. In 1950, McCobb launched his first mass produced line of furniture known as the Planner Group in collaboration with B.G. Mesburg; this collection, with its sleek lines and warm finishes, was a hit, and the pieces were showcased in living rooms across America.

McCobb took inspiration from classic American styles like Windsor and Shaker, but transformed them into new and modern forms. As McCobb stated, “we don’t design fads,” and indeed his designs are imbued with a timeless quality. Further, McCobb pioneered the concept of the room divider, to which he attached desk sets, cabinets and shelves, coining the term “living walls.” His work was featured prominently in the Museum of Modern Art’s Good Design exhibitions (1950–1955), and he received MoMA Good Design awards in 1950, 1951, 1953, and 1954. In the 1960s, McCobb worked as an interior design consultant for corporations like Columbia Records, Singer Manufacturing Company, Bell & Howell Company, and Alcoa Aluminum Corporation. McCobb died in 1969 and today his designs are featured in the museum collections of the Copper Hewitt Design Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, among many others.

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Auction Results Paul McCobb