The White House Historical Association is a private, not-for-profit educational institution that funds most of the conservation work, preservation, and purchase of new items in the executive mansion.
Sikes announced the news of his selection on Instagram with a photo of FLOTUS in a long fuchsia coat walking out of the White House: “This is an honor of a lifetime and I am both humbled and excited. Creating beauty has always been my passion and I have also come to realize that this is my goal. Thank you to The First Lady, her team and to those who came before her and those who are yet to come.”
Sikes is a household name in interior design circles and is featured in the AD100, Architectural Digest’s annual list of top interior design talents. “It’s a solid choice, its style is classic and beautiful,” said Amy Astley, Architectural Digest’s global editor-in-chief. “It’s not about trendy, it’s about quality. He loves American history.”
Astley added: “He has a little respect for what the White House stands for. He knows the history of decorating there and how important it is to be asked for it.”
The design community eagerly awaits news about who would be the next White House interior decorator. While the Bidens have not yet formally selected anyone to do design work in the public spaces or private homes of the White House, Sikes is the first design professional they have publicly announced they will be working with since moving to the White House. The statement from the first lady’s office also said: “While most First Ladies come in immediately and make changes to the areas where they spend the most time, Dr. Biden hadn’t focused on this until now, in between her travels. the country, teaching, and its issuance portfolio.”
The Bidens used New York designer Victoria Hagan when they lived in the vice president’s official residence. That house had an apple-green conservatory, a sapphire-blue dining room, and a forest-green library, all decors with plenty of cozy seating and art on loan from the National Gallery, as well as Delaware artists. “I wanted it to feel warm and comfortable,” Jill Biden told The Washington Post in 2017 as they were packing to move. “I didn’t want people to walk through the front door and feel like they couldn’t sit on the couch.”
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Sikes is a seasoned designer who grew up in the Midwest and works with A-list clients, including Reese Witherspoon. He told Elle Decor in 2019 that his design heroes were the late Mark Hampton, for his “timeless, all-American sensibility,” and Bunny Williams, and that he had learned a lot as an executive at Banana Republic. Sikes has designed rooms for the prestigious Kips Bay Decorator Show House and includes his own furniture, fabric and light lines. He declined to comment on this article.
One of his signature looks is fresh blue and white, with lots of airy fabrics with stripes, gingham and prints, plus blue and white china. Sikes has written two books for Rizzoli: “Beautiful” and “More Beautiful”.
On Saturday, the design world was buzzing on social media and elsewhere over Sikes’ choice of the White House’s coveted design appearance. “I think it’s very curious for the Bidens,” said Emily Eerdmans, a New York design historian. “Mark is always about making beauty accessible. I would describe his style as very American and influenced by the pinnacles of American 20th century design, including Jackie Kennedy and Billy Baldwin. He is very inspired by bringing sportiness to elegance.”
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Michael S. Smith, a Los Angeles designer who decorated the entire White House for the Obamas, said, “I’m happy for Mark. For me, designing the first lady’s office was a truly amazing experience.”
In his book “Designing History,” Smith wrote, “To be honest, the East Wing offices never get much public attention.” Smith created Michelle Obama’s formal office as a multi-purpose place where she could have Twitter chats and host meetings with staff. After painting in layers of pale terracotta covered in glaze and adding white shutters that could filter sunlight for photo shoots, he added sculptures and paintings, including a Mark Rothko on loan from the National Gallery. “Michelle Obama didn’t have a traditional desk, she had a long table and chairs,” Smith says. “It worked better for her. This is really a work office.”
Not much is known about the appearance of Melania Trump’s office. In her book “Melania and Me,” Stephanie Winston Wolkoff described Trump’s East Wing office as being painted in one of the first lady’s favorite colors, Farrow & Ball’s Middleton Pink, which she chose in consultation with her designer, Tham Kannalikham. .
Michael LaRosa, Jill Biden’s press secretary, confirmed that the walls in the first lady’s office have now been painted white. In other words, a clean slate as Sikes begins his transformation into the taste and style of a new first lady.
Correction: In an earlier version of this article, the name of former First Lady Michelle Obama was misspelled. This article has been corrected.