Design in Depth: In Memoriam

March 9, 2011

The design community lost a tremendous member last month. Lee Bierly was an interior designer blessed with enormous talent, personality, knowledge and kindness. I was lucky enough to work with him on a number of projects, including introducing him and his partner Chris Drake as they were inducted into the New England Design Hall of Fame in 2007.

Lee Bierly and Christopher Drake being inducted into the New England Design Hall of Fame, November 2007; photo by Tara Carvalho

That night I read these words before Lee and Chris took the stage: “Boston, Palm Beach, Deer Valley, Osaka, Jakarta. I’m not rattling off a list of where interior designers Lee Bierly and Christopher Drake vacation, but where their work takes them. Designing warm, comfortable spaces in exotic locales, being entrusted to purchase Renoirs and Bonnards at auction in Paris–they accomplish it all at a frenzied pace with camaraderie and grace. Just as important as the homes they have designed are the number of younger designers they have influenced. Even one who once said that “working for Bierly-Drake was like trying to take a sip of water out of a fire hydrant.†These men are true arbiters of elegance whose talents and charm complement one another so completely that they are being honored together.â€

In 2009 I was invited to style and photograph Lee and Chris’s Nantucket home for New England Home. The epitome of domestic bliss, the house radiated warmth and a history of travel. Each piece had a story behind it that Lee couldn’t help but tell. Even after the hundreds of photo shoots he’s been a part of, he still had an enthusiasm for it as if it were the first.

Photos by Michael Partenio

Lee’s magic was his energy and his excitement. There was always something he couldn’t wait to share with you. Lee’s memory lives on not only in our hearts, but in the pages of magazines and books, Web images and interviews, showing us a glimpse into a perfectly assembled world.

Memorial services for Lee will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 12,  at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston. Donations in Lee’s memory may be made to MSPCA-Angell, 350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130. These donations will be designated for the Nantucket Animal Hospital.

–Stacy Kunstel