Michael Smith at Samuel & Sons
10 . 29 . 09
Michael Smith has been the talk of the town since he was chosen as the Obamas’ personal interior designer. It’s also one of the reasons that I have never gotten up the nerve to speak to him when I’ve seen him at events or on the street. I figured he has a million people bothering him everyday so I didn’t want to be one more which was why I was beyond delighted to finally to meet him today! Samuel & Sons hosted an intimate little breakfast gathering this morning to introduce The Grotto Collection, Michael’s first passamenterie line for the company.
I always love hearing from designers directly about their designs because they usually let you in on the process of how long it can take from idea to conception and in this case it was two years! Michael said he only uses Samuel & Sons trims as do most of us in New York since their selection is endless so it was a natural partnership. If you can’t find it at Samuel & Sons, it probably doesn’t exist!
The Grotto Collection is clearly elegant but also casual and that was Michael’s intention. “In this collection, I wanted to make something that is natural and tailored, but that also feels comfortable,” he said. The trims that are made in France on special looms that only produce 10 meters a day have a subtle color palette but a lot of depth and dimension. Michael asked the mills to create trims with variation but a perfect variation.
Trims are definitely making a comeback and Michael suggested that they are what separate “real decorating from retail options.” They have the ability to take a take a sofa and make it something much more special. I think clients appreciate that you can create a combination of fabrics and trims for them that is special and unique. I keep hearing that in the fashion world that people are willing to pay more for clothing and accessories that is more embellished and special and I also see that happening in the interior design world.
Samuel & Sons noticed that Greek Key tapes have been very popular to finish off a design and Michael thinks his less hard line tapes seem like the next evolution of that concept. He is a big collector of antique textiles and especially loves Indian and African that have a patina and softness to them and that was another inspiration for his collection.
The tapes, cords and tie backs are also made with raffia and linen so that also helps to bridge the informal and formal in a room. Michael thinks they would help to tone down an overly fancy room just as his favorite straw carpet from the South of France does as well. The fibers capture the light and the raffia helps pull out the design.
The color combinations are very inspiring and I’m already trying to think of where I can use them! Michael joked that many of them would look great as ribbon on a Christmas present especially with brown kraft paper but that would be a very expensive ribbon!
It was such a pleasure to finally meet Michael Smith and see his beautiful collection. He said he was very excited since he had not yet seen them in such large quantities. I can also imagine that it must feel very good to see all his hard work come to fruition! If you don’t live in New York, the collection is also available in quite a few other cities and I know Samuel & Sons would be happy to help you find them.
I just had to take a photo of Michael’s striped socks that were peeking out from under his pant leg! Love that detail! I also asked him if we will ever see his work at the White House published. He said the Bush family waited seven years to let cameras in and of course it’s not up to him to make that decision. I completely understand the family not wanting it photographed since it’s their private quarters but I hope the Obamas will give us a glimpse. I can already picture Michelle leading a tour like Jackie Kennedy! More importantly, if she can do for the interior design industry what she’s done for the fashion industry (and sleeveless dresses), then I definitely hope she will let the cameras in!
And lastly, a few photos of the Samuel & Sons
showroom. Doesn’t it look just like a candy store?! And the best part is that everything is calorie free!
Oh, and if you’re not sick of Michael Smith yet, Stefan of Architect Design has a great post on the recent lecture he gave in Washington, DC. I hope Michael’s going to use all his frequent flyer miles on a much need vacation soon! I bet he could use one!
Photos by Heather Clawson