Opening of Waldorf-Astoria

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Opening of Waldorf-Astoria - The Waldorf Decor Br HELEN APPLETON READ...
The Waldorf Decor Br HELEN APPLETON READ Decorative Schemes in New Waldorf-Astoria Fail to Follow Predecessors Footsteps in Setting New Standards of Luxurious Elegance American Artists Not Employed PERSONALITY and a new concept of service endeared the old Waldorf-Astoria to two generations and made It the favorite hostelry with people of taste and discernment long after Its guilded and plush luxury was definitely dated as fin de siecle. Now that the new Waldorf-Astoria is the talk of the town, it is unfortunate that Its reincarnation In 30th century terms of this concept should not have been as expressive of luxurious modernity, as the gilded ballrooms, mahogany panels and hand-painted chairs of its predecessor epitomized the tastes and standards of the "90s. ' There has been so much talk about the exceptional taste displayed in the new Waldorf's schemes of interior decorations, such big names have been bandied about as contributing their expert knowledge that something very much akin to the public's reaction to the emperor's new clothes as described in the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale has . . . . , . ,. . come to pass. One sees what one !mJ?ioyedJs"h wU;now.n has been told to see, But to phrase the universal idea that the fable illustrates the public rooms or the new hotel, and exceptions must be taken in the case of the Sert room and of the private suites.which is another story, give no evidence of the much vaunted superior taste, luxurious elegance and individuality that the many eulogistic accounts would have us believe is the case. It just isn't there. The unbelievable silvered gadgets affixed to the towers are a symbol of what has happened inside. The building is the last word in skyscraper efficiency. The conditions which determined the design have been an important factor in its architectural interests the set backs with their terrace gardens, the twin towers used for the special apartment suites, and the driveways which honeycomb the foundation. Then through some curious miscon-celvjd idea of the necessity of decoration the silvered turrets were added. Inside efficient arrangement, the latest innovations in lighting, heating, ventilating and service are sure to make the new Waldorf a byword for vision in hotel management and construction, as was the case with Its celebrated predecessor. In the suites, for example, conditioned air, sound-proofed walls, radios, television equipment, dry ice, portable heaters and electric clocks are Just a few of the items which make living in the new Waldorf "almost impossibly pleasant," to quote from current editorial. All of this is the essence of a 20th century concept of luxurious living. Junior League Rooms But the decorations and furnishings, which should have been the outward expression of this luxury of efficiency, are curiously out of key. And this not to be understood as a brief for modern- decoration - It is paradoxically, however, a brief for lunctionalism. Not the functional-Ism of the function determining form sort, but spirit and intention determining form. The function of the decoration of a super de luxe hotel is to create that atmosphere. In the case of the new Waldorf this should have been the last word in distinguished taste and elegance. The old Waldorf-Astoria accomplished this according to the gold coast standards of the day by using gilded rococo ornament and hand painting. Yes, even to- having Its ballroom decorated by the foremost artists of the time. Incidentally no American mural painters, with the exception of Victor White, who painted the attractive decorations on glass panelled walls for the roof garden restaurant, have been called in to help decorate the walls. Unity Lacking The new Waldorf's decorations end furnishings do not create an effect of super-luxury. Costly as they are, they appear no more so than the furnishings of dozen other hotels. They ere not effective; they are heterogeneous and there is no central idea unless one concedes that the rose-colored carpet provide a central theme. It might have been if the peacock colored chairs In Peacock Alley did not defeat any such idea. Those in charge of the decorations score on one point. They made no effort to do the hotel in the so-called modern style. With 1925 modernism already as demode as the Art Nouveau of 1900, even to have used It In its most conservative interpretation would have been unwise where a certain degree of permanency la desirable. But stylizing the tried and tested tnM of the pa nd adapting it to mortem concept of simplicity produces charming effects. Just how successful this can be is proved in many of the suites, which fortunately are not on public view. The National Association of Junior leagues, who now have their headquarters In the Waldorf, are an excellent example of styling a period to harmonize with modern needs and tastes. Mrs. Babin, who designed many of the suites, U responsible for the Junior Leagues decorative scheme. The basic Idea la stylized Empire. White green and gold are effectively used. It ends up bv being a more attractive room than the effort at a modern atyle used in the Leagues' old rooms at the Barblzon. Opportunities Missed What an opportunity was lost in Che ballroom and Peacock Alley. Stylised fin de siecle should have been the motif a period far enough behind us to have become period. The ballroom should have been gorgeous twentieth century tosoco and Peacock Alley should have been reminiscent of the flattering background of its Inspiration. Nelter of these two rather anemic, although competent replicas, as far as function Is concerned, has the legend-making quality of the originals. And what a pity that the old Waldorf's patronage of American art was not carried over to Its successor. The old Waldorf took special pride rra-." S JZTS, fZZJT Low and Edward Simmons to decorate the ballrooms and banauet halls. The Waldorf-Astoria murals were an important Influence in making the general public conscious of American art. It was a carrying on of the spirit engendered In the Chicago World s Fair, where America's art consciousness may be said to have its beginnings. There "was room in the new Waldorf for native talent. Sert Murals No one can quarrel with the murals which theWaldorf commissioned the Spanish painter, Jose Maria Sert, to paint for the banquet room. whether or not It would have been pleasant to have some display of native art elsewhere. The end in this case completely Justifies the means. Intellectually one may quarrel with the choice of subject. The "Marriage of Don Quixote" in a Park Ave. hotel seems a trifle out of place. But as a matter of fact Serfs subjects are not important, they are merely a peg on which to hang his opulent, dramatic, Ooyaesque designs. The colors are warm and sonorous. Set into grey gold walls the effect is strikingly handsome. The Rigal murals which decorate the foyer are conventional and unimpressive and add to the confusion of a so-called Pompeian ensemble, of which again the basic motive is the pink carpet. Although I have commended the good sense which prevented any display of the decorator's version of modern it is not to be interpreted as meaning that I do not believe In that an esthetic Interpretation of the machine age does not exist. European architects have Riven convincing demonstrations of this. But to accomplish it requires another spirit. It would have necessitated. in the first plao,.a single presiding genius (artistic genius). This is no reflection on the unquestioned talents of the management. Some of the tenets of this esthetic are clean-cut architectural simplicity, elegance and luxury obtained by beautiful materials and colors; no irrelevant decoration, and the occasional Introduction of sculpture. And in each case having the function of the room determine the design and color of the decorative arrangement. Newark's Design In Industry Announcement is made of the undertaking of a second year of "Design in Industry," the monthly bulletin annotating the current literature on industrial design which Is sponsored Jointly by the Newark Public Library and the Newark Museum. With the appearance of Its current Issue, "Design In Industry" completes its first volume of 12 Issues. Because of the increased demand for it and In order to cover partially the expense Involved in publication, a yearly subscription of 11 will replace the present mailing charge of 25 cents. To residents of Newark the publication will continue to be sent free of charge. Undertaken a year ago' as an experiment, "Design in Industry" quickly won a cordial reception and proved its usefulness to workers in the field of applied arts. There is no existing agency which covers the field indexed by "Design in Industry" with such completeness, as It annotates about 80 articles each month. As evidence of the scope of "Design in Industry" la noted the fact that during Its flrst, year 849 items were annotated, covering the fields of architecture, ceramics, fashions, interior decorations, furniture, merchandising, packaging, printing and advertising, photography, textiles and kindred subjects: Of these 765 annotations were drawn from periodicals, 84 from books and pamphlets, and of the entire number 174 were French, German and Italian publications. For the annotations the content of 186 different periodicals were drawn upon. Young Men's Symphony The Young Men's Symphony Orchestra of New York will inaugurate Its 30th season on Sunday morning, Oct. 4. at the York villa Casino, where rehearsals will be held at regular Intervals In preparation for concerts to be given during the Winter of '31-32. The orchestra was founded and endowed by Alfred 8eligman for the special purpose of affording young musicians an opportunity to train themselves In orchestral routine, to acquire knowledge of the classic symphonic repertory. Its activities through the coming season will be in charge of Max Jacobs, who for several years past has acted for it In capacity of conductor and musical director. Applicants for admission to the society may apply to the Young Men's Symphony Orchestra, 406 Lexington Ave, Manhattan

Clipped from
  1. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
  2. 04 Oct 1931, Sun,
  3. Page 65

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  • Opening of Waldorf-Astoria

    ryandenver – 02 Feb 2016

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