Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Grading, grading, grading. I have a little grading ....

The peonies we bought last week are at their most lavishly wonderful peak and their diminutive scent seems to hand around the room in bubbles that one walks through in most unexpected places, one of the pleasures of finals week - grading is upon me and lamentations and bitter weeping are heard in the hallways.

What is occupying my spare time is the brilliant book about Mark Hampton written by his widow. Mr Hampton really was one of my favourite decorators and I'm so pleased to have this compilation of his work. I awoke this morning at 4:30 and my first thought on creaking out of bed was to sit in the living room, read this book and wait for it to get light.

Last week I mentioned the New York Times bad-boy review of this book as part of a post about kindness in blogging and now I have this book I wonder again why anyone might be begrudging about Mr Hampton or his widow. Let me recommend this book if you don't yet have it, for in it are some pretty staggering interiors by this admirable decorator - a man whose work I have held in high regard for longer than I would care to admit at this fragile time of day.

Photo of book from as is the book itself. Slightly unfocussed photo of peony courtesy my iPhone. Coffee, WholeFoods' Morning Buzz has yet to be made as Rory is still abed. A glass of water and a niceness pill suffices.


  1. The cover alone is stunning, very moody. Happy grading - may you finish with it soon.

  2. I agree 100% the book is one of the most beautiful ones as far as rooms go in some time. I argued earlier somewhere that Though it is sad that Mr Hampton is gone-to see a body of work- instead of a few rooms or one house a new designer has done-somehow spread out to over 100 pages(irritating and tiresome) is incredibly pleasing. Every designer published in a magazine is then about a book, though I like the Michael Smith books the second is very redundant.Suzanne Kasler,etc etc You get my drift Blue. I think Hampton got it quite right on many counts. The Flood of designer books on the market has diminished the attraction greatly.pgt

  3. It sounds like the perfect morning (well, apart from the grading). Nothing surpasses fresh flowers and fresh coffee!

  4. I just got up-to-speed by reading the Petankus review. Clearly there is still resentment from those who felt Mark Hampton was a Traitor, completely unwilling to use his influence to further the causes of Gay Rights and AIDS Awareness. But, after all, he always credited his success to his hard-working wife in her never ending promotion of their marriage as an ideal one. Whether his success would have been just as great without his wife is debatable. After all, Albert Hadley and Mario Buatta are famous and respected. Albert designed the Vice-President's residence and Mario designed the nation's official Guest House Blair House (sharing that with Mark); it is unlikely either will ever be considered for the White House, but it did not disqualify Michael Smith. Mark was charming and quite funny, but I think his decorating should be evaluated on its own merits without all the other spins that are being associated with it.

  5. le style et la matiere - thank you. I'm nearly done with it. One more day then freedom till the summer semester begins in June.

    litle augury, I agree about a lot of vanity publishing - most of it's a load of twaddle. The real problem for me is the fatuous text that most of them have.

    Sanity Fair - it was the perfect moring and the only request I would have made was that it be Saturday morning rather than Wednesday.

  6. Many of your readers will remember that most of the furnishings in the Steinberg library pictured in the "Times" blog were sold at a reversal-of-fortune auction. But most might be surprised that the architecture of the room was stripped by the next owner's decorator, Peter Marino. The current owner of the palatial apartment is Schwarzman, owner of Blackstone, who became famous (or infamous) for the $3 million birthday party he gave for himself at the Park Av/67th Street Armory.

  7. I read that NY times review, and I was just appalled. There was no reason to be so bitter. All of the reviews I have read in that series so far have been aimed at insulting the subject. Really awful--and with the number of typos I see daily on the NY Times web site? They should be ashamed. They are attacking like a tabloid, and not tending their own garden.

  8. John T, I agree about judging on own merits but there are times, for some people, it is impossible not to associate the work with the actions of the person. There is always a political and sociological aspect to design history that is frequently ignored in the press and from that point of view your comment offers a reason why the reviewer's tone about Hampton was as negative as it was.

    Dandy, thank you for your comment. I agree about typos of which there are many in the press and in the blogosphere too, but what drives me crazy (amongst a long list of irritants, including the misuse of the apostrophe) is the use of past tenses such as "grinded" instead of "ground" "shined" instead of "shone."

    Yummy Scrumptious, mine too - at the moment - but like all men, I'm fickle!

    John T - you give me such ideas for posts. Thank you.