Interior Design

Designing History: The Extraordinary Art & Style of the Obama White House

The long-awaited insider's look at one of the design milestones of the twenty-first century: Michael S Smith's celebrated decoration of the Obama White House, featuring a foreword by Michelle Obama.

Created for design enthusiasts, political aficionados, and students of Americana, Designing History documents Michael Smith's extraordinary collaboration with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Not since Jacqueline Kennedy's iconic work on the White House has a designer of Michael Smith's stature been commissioned to bring a new design spirit to the mansion. Through extensive photography, behind-the-scenes stories, and rich archival material, the book places the Obama White House within the context of the building's storied past and its evolution over the past two centuries. The book beautifully documents the process of updating the country's most symbolic residence, revealing how Smith's collaboration on the decoration, showcasing of artworks, and style of entertaining reflected the youthful spirit of the First Family and their vision of a more progressive, inclusive American society.

Ultimately, this book will serve as both a historical document and a voyeur's delight, capturing a specific moment in time for the White House, the Obamas, and the American experience.

About The Author

Internationally renowned decorator Michael S Smith is a longtime member of the AD100 and was named Designer of the Year by Elle Decor. In 2010, Smith was appointed by President Obama to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. Michelle Obama served as first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. Margaret Russell is a design journalist and the former editor in chief of Elle Decor and Architectural Digest.

  • Publish Date: September 01, 2020
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: House & Home - Decorating & Furnishings
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 9-1/4 x 11-1/2
  • Pages: 304
  • US Price: $60.00
  • CDN Price: $80.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-6479-9


"...offers an up-close-and-personal look at the former first family's home life." —HOUSE BEAUTIFUL 

"The decorator Michael Smith, who has transformed interiors for the Obamas, Rupert Murdoch and Cindy Crawford, is spilling paint in a new book." —NEW YORK TIMES

"Decorators often lament the fact that once a room is redone, nobody remembers their work. For Michael S. Smith, documenting his design of the Obama White House—and processing the eight years he shuttled back and forth to Washington, D.C., for the first family after an introduction from Obama’s social secretary, Desirée Rogers—became a personal mission. 'It was important to kind of take a moment and not just let history flow by,' he says. The result is Designing History: The Extraordinary Art & Style of the Obama White House, a monograph out now from Rizzoli that situates the Obamas’ friendly, unpretentious décor within the snow globe of White House style." —WSJ. MAGAZINE

"Smith offers readers an inside look at his work ushering in a new era of decor at the historic residence." —IN STYLE

" far the most comprehensive illustrated record of the executive mansion and Smith's deep dive into the history of the white house, as he helped the Obamas update the stolid mansion with a more contemporary and open aesthetic, easing the burdens of a young family living in the White House."

"Smith shares everything from the advice he got from Nancy Reagan to the secret code his staff used to refer to the Obamas." —BUSINESSOFHOME.COM

"'Designing History,' the new publication by Michael S Smith, is about the world's most famous house and its continuous design legacy. But it is much more than a document on decorating the White House, the mansion which continues to fascinate and inspire all Americans. It is about a relationship forged between a client and a decorator, a connection crucial to the success of any project. 'Designing History' provides a glimpse into the private lives of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama during their eight years in office (2009-17). The text and wonderful photographs bring to life the spaces hosted their legacy and achievements – being the first African American president in US history, the Affordable Care Act, or the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals – through the décor they chose to live in." —DANIELLAONDESIGN.COM

"Created for design enthusiasts, political aficionados, and students of Americana, Designing History documents Michael Smith’s extraordinary collaboration with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama."—LOVE HAPPENS 

"In Designing History, Smith catalogs his collaboration with the First Family with behind-the-scenes photos, design schemes, room renderings, and more, documenting the artists and craftspeople integral in the reimagining of the home. Interestingly, the White House’s storied decorative past—as Smith, a self-described student of history, discovered through letters written by Mary Todd Lincoln, archival records of Jackie Kennedy, and present-day calls with Nancy Reagan, a friend—helped inform the Obama-era design plans." —ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST.COM 

"Reading this book was a joy.  I spent the better part of a day and a half reading its 300+ pages and hated that it came to an end.  I was hungry for even more."—COTE DE TEXAS

"...full of behind-the-scenes insight...takes readers room by room through Smith’s overhaul of the former First Family’s private residence." —WASHINGTONIAN

Author Bookshelf: Margaret Russell

Author Bookshelf: Michael S. Smith