The design world is abuzz this week with the news that President Obama's decorator-in-chief, Michael Smith, redid the Oval Office while the first family was on vacation. After reading the New York Times post and this article, I had to ask "why is this news?" A new rug, wallpaper, drapery and a few other updates — frankly, nothing very earth-shaking here. Any corporate office in America could look the same — and maybe that's why it's news.
The sheer blandness of the choices — what's the message behind that? Is it really a reflection of his personality, as Margaret Russell, new editor of Architectural Digest, seems to think? Truly, if the client is happy, the designer is happy. But how much could the clients have allowed themselves to express, knowing the judgmental eyes of the entire country would be searching for hidden meaning (and mentally tallying the cost)?
The most interesting item in the revamped room is the coffee table. In walnut and mica, it's a little step away from the traditional styles of former presidents. The blue Spitzmiller lamps are lovely, but feel a little lost in a sea of neutral. Forlorn really. And the pillows are just plain sad. What a challenge to create a room that tries not to offend anyone!
The Bush Oval Office rug is far more visually interesting, don't you think?
The President's new digs are hopefully just what he wanted, even if the rest of us are underwhelmed. What do you think — subtle and warm? Or bland and boring?