Classic Design Luncheon with Thomas Jayne and Pilar Viladas

Just as the Jay Estate has adapted its buildings and landscape to serve a 21st-century audience in a modern and inclusive way, today’s foremost style influencers are leading discussions about how to make classic design more accessible by seamlessly mixing the old and the new. On Thursday, September 23, 100 guests joined us for a lively conversation about this creative process with AD 100 Interior Designer Thomas Jayne and design journalist Pilar Viladas. 

Jayne and Viladas under the rose arbor

The wind howled but the rain held off as guests sipped Champagne and strolled through the newly reimagined Jay Gardens during the reception hour. They admiring the parterre plantings and vegetable beds meticulously maintained by volunteers and snapped photos of the sensory room, reflecting pool and picturesque rose arbor. Selections from the Great American Songbook were provided by a jazz duo on the lawn.

Inside an open-air tent on a slope overlooking the gardens, guests then dined on elegant and sustainably boxed lunches (in compostable containers selected in honor of Climate Week). Choices of grilled chicken salad, grilled salmon nicoise salad, and vegetable and quinoa salads were offered by JHC favorite Scarborough Fair Catering.

After lunch Jayne and Viladas ascended the dais, and Jayne held the audience transfixed with a presentation of his firm’s work, which incorporates classical elements with a modern twist. Luncheon-goers admired a slide of one innovative arrangement in Jayne’s own loft, in which he had paired traditional antiques against walls painted with crisp bright squares of pink and blue. After Jayne’s talk, Viladas quizzed Jayne about his inspirations, including from one of his mentors, Albert Hadley, a principal, along with Sister Parish, in the legendary design firm of Parish-Hadley.

All guests took home a copy of Jayne’s book, “Classical Principles for Modern Design: Lessons from Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman’s ‘The Decoration of Houses,’(from Monacelli Press) which Jayne signed after the talk.

Our deepest thanks to our 2021 luncheon co-chairs, Tracy Edwards, Sara Goddard, Daniell Neuman and Suzanne Clary, for their heroic work.

Proceeds from this annual fundraising luncheon will benefit a wide range of JHC’s educational programs in American history, architecture, social justice, and environmental stewardship.

Alec Safy on acoustic bass and Tony Davis on guitar provided music for the reception
Alec Safy on acoustic bass and Tony Davis on guitar provided music for the reception
Guests took a seat on the edge of the reflecting pool in the gardens. Left to right, Amanda del Vaulx, Marie-Anne van Roijen, Suzanne Clary, Caroline Wallach, Erika Mercurio, Mary Elizabeth Campbell and Barbara Cummings
Visitors to the gardens included Gretchen Crowley
Thomas Jayne inscribing books
Suzanne Clary, Michael Kovner, Jean Doyen de Montaillou, and Kevin Peraino in the native pollinator room
Evelyn Tompkins and Mark Gilbertson in the walled gardens
Caroline Walker and Dede Montgomery
Marie-Eve Velikson, Brad Neuman, Mitchell Stern, Daniell Neuman and Gina Intorre
JHC Executive Director Kevin Peraino introduced the speakers


Thomas Jayne is an award-winning decorator, historian and author. For the past 30 years, Jayne has designed rooms that reflect a strong connection to history and place, drawing upon the past for inspiration, seeking details that will deepen and enhance a room’s decoration. His firm, Jayne Design Studio, has developed a reputation for creating spaces that are traditionally inspired, but modern in spirit. According to Elle Decor which listed him on their 2021 A List: “Whether it’s a SoHo loft or a late-19th-century industrial building, Thomas Jayne’s designs never fail to convey a deep connection to history and place. His firm, Jayne Design Studio, knows how to create personality-packed spaces for clients ranging from families to collectors.” The New York-based firm is known for tailored, comfortable houses and apartments that meet the present-day needs of its clients, whether they are young families or advanced collectors. In addition to his well-regarded practice, Thomas Jayne is a noted author and has published three highly acclaimed books with the Monacelli Press. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Luxe Interiors + Design.

Pilar Viladas is a journalist and editor who writes about design and architecture. She is the former design editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and was an editor at Progressive Architecture and House & Garden magazines. She has written three books on interiors, including Domesticities: At Home With The New York Times Magazine, an essay for Ward Bennett, a 2017 book on the American designer, and Achille Salvagni, a book on the work of the Italian architect and designer that was published by Rizzoli in 2019.

Photos by Cutty McGill