My life’s work as a designer, social entrepreneur activist would not have been possible without the kindness, encouragement, and coaching from Albert Hadley over all the years. Not only was it because of his refined eye, but he was also a gentleman, humanitarian, mentor and a wonderful friend.
In the fall of 1985, after 10 years in an ashram and 6 weeks in the highlands of Guatemala, I arrived the prodigal son with a sack of weavings in a wooden Mayan armoire to my family’s home in Fairfield, Connecticut. Albert had visited and climbed the third floor stairs in my family’s home to view the armoire. It was like nothing ever seen before, much like me. The armoire bore the stories of the Maya from the middle of their civil war and the unique designs they created that celebrated their life perspective & their struggles for respect. Albert loved it! It had no pedigree. And when it was delivered to Sotheby’s, they as well had never seen anything like it before. I had bought it for $50 off the side of the road in the open air from a farmer on the way to sell his vegetables. Albert’s guidance was to donate the armoire to The Lenox Hill Neighborhood Auction. “Go back, get some more,” he advised, and “I will introduce you to my friends.”
Albert’s words “Go back and get more” rang in my ears. Of course there was only one such armoire, yet it lived within a context rich in history, bloody and beautiful. I returned to my host in Guatemala, Benjamin Herrarte, a designer of textiles & clothing who I had introduced to Albert so he knew for himself of his kindness and style. Off we went to search the streets and highlands for similar pieces, coming up with little. Finally we arrived in a remote ﬁnca or coffee plantation passing a small battalion of ragtag rebels. A nineteenth century compound contained a chapel, main house with porticos connected to out houses, stables and a carpenters shop. A lifestyle complete with designs for the family, the matron of the family was pleased to show us the family quarters, “Oh pay no heed to the rebels, we feed them and get them on their way.” Then she showed us a scrolled arm bench, Benjamin loved it and I went along. Back in New York, I showed Albert the pictures, he ﬂipped for the bench and wanted to see it as soon as it arrived. “Conﬁdentially, there is great controversy over Duchese of York asking for us to redesign the interior of her home, Kensington Place. We will paint it white and it’s perfect!” The young Duchese relayed that the Queen had said it was impossible for a foreign company to do the job ”It must be done by a english company.” The Duchese of York then chose Lady Campbell for her residence and asked that Parish-Hadley do the entrance to her show house. Albert sent the bench with 10 coats of white paint.
With Albert’s reputation and network of extraordinary people, I was truly blessed with opportunities to connect with icons and people of great talents that he felt would appreciate me and my work. They included Mark Hampton, Marriette Himes Gomez, Mario Buatta, Jeffery Bilhuber, Tom Shereer, Eleanor Brown, Dorothy Draper Inc, Jack Lenor Larson, Samuel Botero, Stephen Sills to name a few.
-In celebration of Albert Hadley, my first foray into the world of furniture design was the “Albert’s Bench.”
A sketch by Albert Hadley entitled Showroom Exhibition.
Albert Hadley Drawings and The Design Process
Published by the New York School of Interior Design