Habitually Chic®'s Logo  

Michael Smith at Samuel & Sons

by habituallychic

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

Comments Closed

  1. ArchitectDesign™ October 29, 2009 | 8:50 pm

    Thanks for the shout out! I just love his Paul Smith looking socks -just speaks to his attention to detail (as does his having a collection of great trims!).
    LOL @ calorie free candy store -it’s so true!!

  2. Thomas October 29, 2009 | 8:59 pm

    so great that you got to meet michael. seems like a nice person (add talented).

    i’m with you and stefan–>socks are cool.

  3. Keri Shrimpton October 29, 2009 | 9:00 pm

    Wow, what an exciting morning! The Michael S. Smith collection looks superb, and I am really tickled to learn about a new design resource in Samuel & Sons (and such a pretty showroom!).

  4. Jen West Design October 29, 2009 | 9:15 pm

    I have loved him ever since his first little house was published a million years ago with that punched tin coffee table. I heard once that he worked at Indigo Seas and asked to be a partner with Rachel Ashwell…to help take the company in a new direction. Supposedly, that didn’t work out. Look at him today. Samuel & Sons is the only trim. My favorite.

  5. Karena October 29, 2009 | 11:04 pm

    Heather, love the trims, and Michael Smith just looks like a great guy. I am like a kid in a candy store, seeing the tassels all lined up.

  6. Grant K. Gibson October 29, 2009 | 11:33 pm

    I love his work and I can’t wait to check out this new line! What great socks too!

  7. Mrs. G October 29, 2009 | 11:43 pm

    What a gorgeous line. I see a major place in the market for his elegant yet casual trims. Very beautiful.

  8. the NEO-traditionalist October 30, 2009 | 12:55 am

    LOVE Michael Smith and LOVE Samuel & Sons—this is too good to be true! Thank for sharing the new collection with us. I’m dying to see what he does to the White House!
    XXX Kate

  9. Laura Casey Interiors October 30, 2009 | 12:07 pm

    Lucky you. I miss Samuel & Sons, used to go in there all the time. Have a great weekend.

  10. Jane Schott October 30, 2009 | 12:23 pm

    Bring on the trim! As a pillow maker I am so tired of flat flanges and small piping.

  11. Ruthie's Renewed Treasures October 30, 2009 | 1:06 pm

    Gorgeous trim! Love the designs! Especially loved seeing how he displays them all. Thanks for sharing the details with us.

  12. Gabrielle Katz October 30, 2009 | 2:08 pm

    Great post and very interesting, you can see how his personal style has rubbed off on his work… jumping on the sock bandwagon. The Obama family portrait was done last week, which we wrote about and linked to some Obama inspired interiors you might be interesting in checking out. http://wellappointedhouse.blogspot.com/2009/10/americas-first-family-portrait.html

  13. jones October 30, 2009 | 3:12 pm

    Samuel& Son–a slice of heaven. REminds me of shopping in Europe. Nice to see a photo of Michael Smith where he is not posed. Thanks. Mary

  14. CashmereLibrarian October 30, 2009 | 3:22 pm

    So beautiful! I do love Michael Smith, and I’m excited for you that you met him! However, I found it interesting that Michael pointed out that trim was the difference b/n real decoration and retail. Well, I see his point but since 99% of the population can’t afford custom furniture (at least on a full-room or house-wide scale), I think this is a bit disingenuous. Certainly “real decorating” happens on many levels.

  15. DoxaHome.com October 30, 2009 | 5:32 pm

    What a gorgeous line, I love the color ways, patterns and materials. I use tapes all the time! Especially these days, as I am finding myself customizing ready made furniture/draperies/bedding far more frequently in the name of saving money;) Thanks for sharing, for those of us not in the city it is great to see the product!

  16. Laura Holland November 2, 2009 | 1:00 am

    I love the trims too! They are a simple way to add style and personality to almost any piece!

  17. Jennifer November 2, 2009 | 8:50 pm

    beautiful! as expected.

  18. Jennifer Sergent November 13, 2009 | 7:30 pm

    Hi Heather — I’m just now reading this post. Isn’t Michael fabulous? We had the pleasure of interviewing him before his DC lecture, and he’s so cool — totally down to earth — you instantly feel like he’s your best friend. Great post on Samuel & Sons — it made me lust after some trim for my own window treatments.
    Take care — Jennifer Sergent/ Washington Spaces