Chic People
Glamorous Places
Stylish Things
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Part 1

MDS-How would you define your style?

MSS- I rely on others to define my style since it’s ever-evolving. But, I’ve heard it described as “updated traditional” or “a juxtaposition of modern and traditional.” I don’t want to be restricted or roped in to thinking of myself as only one thing.

Michael’s Bel-air home featured- updated traditional style- california style- elle decor


MDS- Where did you grow up and how do you think that influences your work?

MSS- I grew up in an aesthetic, design-oriented family in Newport Beach, CA. The area is very much a culture of set rules of what houses were supposed to look like. So, for me, not sticking to a certain sense of style – a California style – just wasn’t a part of it. But even things like seeing the fog on eucalyptus leaves as I rode my bike to school each morning helped define my idea of a California room. It’s a bit second nature when you grow up in it.

Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerbers Malibu Master bedroom- california style- elle decor


MDS- If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

MSS- I’d be a real estate developer. I always loved building as a kid – blocks, Legos. I built an underground city on graph paper. I also love organization and structure. One of the things I do to relax is check out the rental markets.

Michael’s new home in Hombly Hills


MDS- Who or what is inspiring you right now?

MSS- I am captivated by the Billy Baldwin 70s aesthetic right now. Basically, if you take away the pop, groovy 70s you get a “hippie meets casual.” Think Bob Evans or bamboo matchstick shades or a Karl Springer table covered in batik. It’s sexy without being sinister; an interesting balance of Bohemian with a sense of lightness.

Billy Baldwin designed Manhattan apartment

Bob Evans- 1974


MDS- What is the favorite room in your home?

MSS- My bedroom in NewYork. There’s a crazy rock crystal chandelier in it that appears differently throughout the day. It’s great to wake up and fall asleep to it because it has this magical, other-worldly quality to it.

Michael’s Master bedrooom in NYC- Architectural Digest


MDS- Is there anything you obsessively collect?

MSS- Karl Springer. Warhol drawings as much as I can, specifically the black and white pieces from the late 70s and early 80s. There’s also a pair of silvery-gold Converse tennis shoes they just discontinued. I buy up every pair I can find.

Karl Springer dining chairs


MDS- Fill in the blank: “I could never own too many ____________ .”

MSS- I could probably own too much of anything. But, if I had to pick something: houses. There’s a particular cotton-linen J. Crew navy cardigan I have quite a few of too.

Malibu estate designed by Michael


MDS- If you could decorate anyones home – who’s would it be and why?

MSS- Beyoncé. I just think she’s so great. Her whole presentation: it’s so together. I love someone who is incredibly strong and professional.

Beyonce performing at President Obama’s first inauguration


MDS- What do you want to be known for?

MSS- I think I don’t know yet. A question better asked at the end of my career.

Monticeto estate designed by Michael- Sentimental

open aired california white interior

blue and white portuguese tiles

chinoiserie wall papered bedroom


MDS- What do you think is chic, stylish and glamorous?

MSS- People who are really confident and can move the needle forward in an intellectual way. They are truly chic, stylish and glamorous. Of course someone can have a veneer of those things – photos and moments are ephemeral – but depth is the really interesting thing.

Michael’s new book arriving in may- Building Beauty: the Alchemy of Design


“MICHAEL S. SMITH” - 6 Comments

  1. Very nice! So excited for the new book in may. thank you for the post on one of the greats!


  2. gREAT INTERVIEW! I started reading your blog not too long ago, and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoy it. :)


  3. i worked for michael and feel so lucky to have learned from such a talented individual. i enjoyed your interview, thanks! i especially like your question re. what’s/who’s inspiring michael today.


  4. Thanks, mark! That was fun.


  5. I so enjoyed this interview. In my mind he can do no wrong. i was just rereading parts of his first book yesterday. Can’t wait for the new one!


  6. michael is a national treasure. as a fabricator who has worked on his projects, there aren’t many who have his vision and courage. he seems to understand beauty like no other.


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