Designer Michael S. Smith
My evening with California-based designer Michael S. Smith consisted of an auditorium at the Corcoran Gallery of Art with 100+ of my closest friends. The event was part of the Corcoran's lecture series, which on this occasion turned the discussion to interior design. And Mr. Smith was a timely choice as his name has been buzzing around the District - his recent clients are a family by the name of Obama.
Every designer I come across captures my attention for a different reason - in Michael's case, I'm drawn to his versatility. He can create the most over-the-top Chinoiserie bedroom and then captivate you with a white, crisp, classic living room. He seems to do it all - depending on his client.
Michael shared some of his design thoughts during the presentation:
Design should be timeless. He focuses not only on how a design currently functions for a client, but how it will function in ten years. He also encourages clients to purchase pieces (typically antiques) that will continue to perform as lives and homes change.
Design should be personal. He notes that he challenges each client to create a home that reflects who they are, as opposed to copying the Joneses down the street (even though he may have designed the Joneses' home).
Design should be balanced. He may have a gorgeous, elaborate wallpaper in a dining room, but you'll notice that the chairs are upholstered in a neutral fabric. I think he also balances gender very well in his rooms with both masculine and feminine details.
Design should pop...usually with one statement piece. He has a knack for introducing one showstopper into his rooms - like an oversize work of modern art or a beautiful antique - that gives the room a jolt to keep it interesting.
During the Q&A, folks were itchin' to talk Obama, but Michael was quite mumsy about his work decorating the private residence of the White House. So, we didn't hear much about that project (except that it is almost complete). We did have many laughs, though, as he brought his friend Ali Wentworth on stage to liven up the discussion and she was hilarious.
I really enjoyed the event. It exposed me to another great designer with an inspirational aesthetic. I'm always up for that...
Following images all via www.michaelsmithinc.com