Design Poetry at Villa Albertine


Design Poetry at Villa Albertine

"I like projects being anchored in memories, with subliminal codes. The goal is to create something timeless, a place where you don’t know if it was done ten years ago or ten years from now."


"New York to me is like an island surrounded by water. Seeing the building, in the heart of New York facing Central Park, I said to myself that it was a sleeping beauty that needed to be awakened. I found it beautiful and stimulating at the same time. And the idea of contributing to France's influence abroad appealed to me." - Hugo Toro

Nestled in the historic Payne Whitney Mansion, Villa Albertine, opposite Central Park stands as a cultural institution bridging the artistic realms of France and the United States. The Atelier has recently undergone a transformative renewal, led by interior architect and designer, Hugo Toro, in collaboration with Mobilier National.

Informed by the Gilded Age opulence of the building, Toro approached the project with sensitivity, paying homage to the mansion's historical richness. Envisioning Villa Albertine as a sleeping beauty, Toro drew inspiration from the poetic musings of Helen Hay Whitney, a former occupant and society poet. Referencing her poem, ‘my brook’, he shaped a narrative around nature, art nouveau aesthetics and the presence of central park.

Serving as a multidisciplinary space for events, the studio features adaptable furniture, including a sectional conference table reminiscent of water lilies, where Toro aimed to create an environment conducive to collaboration and contemplation.

Every detail, from tables and chairs to lighting and carpets, reflects Toro’s meticulous design in collaboration with French artisans, enriching the project with exceptional French savoir-faire.

The colour palette is drawn from nature and embraces verdant greens, watery blues, and subtle red patinas. Sinuous sofas, echoing the banks of a stream and hand-blown wavy Murano glass chandeliers cast a contemporary glow that contributes to the atmospheric narrative of the space.

Curating a selection of furniture from the Mobilier National archives spanning various decades, he blended styles inspired by the Gilded Age. From Xavier Matégot's spidery armchairs to Olivier Védrine's silvery cocktail table, each piece contributes to the eclectic charm synonymous with the era.

Exceptional in every respect, his vision brings Central Park in from outside, and re-establishes the spirit of poet Helen Hay Whitney.

Toro’s blend of history, poetry, and contemporary perspective creates an enduring narrative for the future.


‘MY BROOK’ by Helen Hay Whitney 

Earth holds no sweeter secret anywhere

Than this my brook, that lisps along the green

Of mossy channels, where slim birch trees lean

Like tall pale ladies, whose delicious hair,

Lures and invites the kiss of wanton air.

The smooth soft grasses, delicate between

The rougher stalks, by waifs alone are seen,

Shy things that live in sweet seclusion there.

And is it still the same, and do the eyes

Of every silver ripple meet the trees

That bend above like guarding emerald skies?

I turn, who read the city’s beggared book,

And hear across the moan of many seas

The whisper and the laughter of my brook.


Adapted from a Milk Decoration interview 

Photography — William Jess Laird

Design — Hugo Toro 

Project  Villa Albertine, New York 


Shop the 'Villa Albertine' inspired edit.

Villa Albertine Collection 




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