is an insider’s look at one of the design milestones of the twenty-first century: Designing History: The Extraordinary Art & Style of the Obama White House Michael S. Smith’s decoration of the Obama White House. Written by Michael and journalist Margaret Russell with a foreward by Michelle Obama, the book places the Obama White House within the context of the building’s storied past and its evolution over the past two centuries. Not since Jacqueline Kennedy’s iconic work on the White House has a designer of Michael’s stature been commissioned to bring a new design spirit to the mansion.
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Through extensive photography, behind-the-scenes stories and archival material, the tome documents the process of updating the People’s House. Michael’s thoughtful decoration reflected the youthful spirit of the First Family and their vision of a more progressive, inclusive American society.
Paintings by Paul Cézanne (left) and Daniel Garber from the White House collection flank the fireplace in the Yellow Oval Room. Antique toys from the Smithsonian are displayed on the shelves to the left and sofas by Jonas are covered in a Claremont damask.
In the Family Sitting Room, Sean Scully’s painting
ONEONEZERONINE RED, on loan from the National Gallery of Art, is displayed against a wall clad in a rush-cloth paper by Crezana. The sofa is by Roman Thomas, the side pedestal table and travertine-top table are by Jasper Furniture, and the rug is by Mansour.
Michael created an elegant master bedroom for the Obamas. Augustus Vincent Tack’s
Abstraction is displayed to the left of the mantel while Nocturne by James McNeill Whistler hangs above it; the Samuel Marx-inspired coffee table is by Jasper Furniture.
In President Obama’s Private Dining Room, George P. A. Healy’s
The Peacemakers, an 1868 painting depicting Civil War peace negotiations, is displayed on the far wall, above a pair of Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves autographed “to Barack”; to the right are framed notes from a speech by John F. Kennedy and a seascape painted by Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
The Master Bedroom offers a sunny view of leafy trees and the wide South Lawn below. The high-post bed is early 19th-century American, and its canopy, curtains and bed skirt are a Larsen raw silk. The embroidered pillow in the foreground is by Jed Johnson Home, and the wallpaper is by Gracie; the rug was custom made by Mitchell Denburg.
The Solarium is wrapped by windows and faces south, offering a spectacular view of the Washington Monument.
Author: Wendy Jacob
Michael S. Smith