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Decorator Albert Hadley's Old Employees Talk Nice 'Bout the Boss

The new book The Finest Rooms by Great America's Great Decorators, by Thomas Jayne, includes a photo of designer Robert Couturier's dining room, the drawing room of jeweler Kenneth Jay Lane, and the living room of Charles Eames and wife Ray, among others. But Jayne saves what's perhaps the best for last, publishing venerable decorator Albert Hadley's small Manhattan sitting room (above) on the very last page—"an object lesson in understated chic," reports The Moment. What other lessons are there to be learned from Hadley, whose client list has boasted Jackie O. and Vice President Al Gore, and whose body of work inspired the theme of last year's Kips Bay Decorator Show House? This month, regional shelter magazine Connecticut Cottages & Gardens asks that very same question to certain big-name graduates of Parish-Hadley Associates, a firm founded by Hadley and decorator Sister Parish in the early '60s. Turns out Hadley's nothing if not a human launching pad, having made the careers of more than a few top designers. And they've all got somethin' to say.

Says Bunny Williams, who worked at the firm for 22 years: "Always stay attuned to what is new—never be boring, but always focus on good design and scale." Thom Filicia, who started his career at the firm, recalls Hadley's experimentation with a lustrous wall finish. "Albert is always pushing the boundaries as a designer," he remarks. David Easton, who worked at Parish-Hadley for a year and a half before setting off on his own, comments on Hadley's editing skills. "Years ago you could look at work by some designers and it was all about more—more pattern, more curtains, more weight. Albert eschewed that and always has. He is a modernist at heart." And Michael Whaley points to a practical tip. "Always carry a tape measure," he says.

· Connecticut Cottages & Gardens [official site]
· Now Reading: The Finest Rooms [The Moment]
· The Amazing Human Launching Pads [NYMag]