dale cohen designstudio
3 min readJul 23, 2021

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Tony Ingrao’s Gardens | Guild Hall’s “Garden As Art” | East Hampton, NY

Magic, mystery, wonder …

As my foot landed on the pea gravel and I looked up, I thought for an instant I must be a forgotten European garden. It was as if I had opened a doorway in to another time, possibly another world.

The gardens are complex in their layering. Nothing fussy, yet every tree is carefully thought out, it’s placement engineered to perfection. It is as if they were painting an old master, using plants and trees instead of oil paint and impasto. The effect is breathtaking. Subtle and sophisticated, carefully thought out, the design requiring deep attention to detail, in order to appear effortless.

The gardens are best seen without others around, except for the deer and squirrels. This is clearly designed to be a place of gathering, in order to preserve the magic, one’s voice should never be above a murmur for fear of imposing crassness on the inimitable beauty. And if you concentrate, very faintly you can hear the ocean’s whisper.

I toured the gardens on a Saturday in late June as part of Guild Hall’s “Garden as Art” annual garden tour in East Hampton, NY. The intensity of color of the greenery was magnified due to the humidity. So heavy was the air, it was near impossible to take photos, the resulting phots are blurred.

As a point of information Tony Ingrao was my first employer when I moved to NYC from LA. It was a baptism by fire. I went from teaching architecture to undergrads and doing small renovations in LA, to working on a 35 million dollar home in Greenwich. It was a world of fantasy realized to the tenth power. I recall thinking ‘so this is who designs homes that appear in Paige Rense’s Architectural Digest’. I learned from just being in Tony’s office every day. He is gifted in a way few I have met are, he has a prodigious imagination and playfulness, imbued with a deep understanding of architecture, furniture and design history.

For a few months I also worked with him on a piece of property he owned in Amagansett, NY. It was effectively an unbuildable site, shaped something akin to an extruded trapezoid. It was working on this intimate project, just the two of us, that I saw how Tony’s imagination worked. I am twice trained as an architect and had, at that point, spent six years teaching undergrad and graduate architecture design studios … my mind was more rigid. Tony’s possessed a kind of fluidity that I found remarkable. It is that singular creativity that imbues these gardens, that has inspired him to remake these acres of land, along a preserve, into a place unique on the East End. A place ripe with luscious secrets.

26 June 2021

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dale cohen designstudio

Leader in NYC design community w/ her award winning Renovation + Interior Design + Furnishings firm. Specializing in designing for men; A Gentleman’s Home.