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03.18.2009
Eavesdrop

THE POWER & THE APPETIZERS
Tone deafness has trickled down to those who create the illusion of taste. Gawker recently let Los Angeles interior designer Michael Smith have it between the armoires for throwing a lavish Fashion Week luncheon at the Four Seasons for magazine editors and Barbara Walters. Isn’t lavishness the soul of Fashion Week? Yes, but by some (anyone breathing) it is also considered bad taste to flaunt wealth during an historic economic meltdown. In politics, as in fashion, perception is reality, and Smith would be wise to manage the public’s view of him. After all, he’s the decorator who realized Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain’s dream of running his company into the ground from a $1.22 million office, while hydrating from a $960 Michael Graves cobalt-blue glass. The media would not have bothered to out Smith as the designer if it weren’t for the fact that he’s been retained by the Obamas to refreshen up the White House living quarters. The irony is that President Obama referred to Thain as a symbol of wretched excess in a speech last month, saying, “Taxpayer money should not go toward renovating offices.” Of course, Smith’s budget for the White House is a measly $100,000 of taxpayer money, which we calculated to be less than the fee he collected for the Thain job. Remember, perception is reality. The lunch, by the way, was given in honor of Desiree Rogers, the new White House social secretary. Awkward.

EDITRIXES
...Speaking of magazine editors, we doubt that Paige Rense was among the guests at Smith’s get-together. Architectural Digest’s octogenarian editor was overheard at a Los Angeles party last month enthusiastically dissing Smith’s decorating skills. Of course, the disrespect got back to him before you could say commode-on-legs.

SING TO ME, O MUSE, OR NOT
If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody’s there to hear it, does it make a noise? If a cable show has no viewers, does it exist? No and no. Muse, the virtually unknown show on the hardly watched Bloomberg Network is about to go from unknown to nonexistent, which we acknowledge is just a technicality. Muse was the network’s gratuitous nod to arts and culture and aired at dawn on the weekends. Architectural luminaries such as Thom Mayne, Frank Gehry, Steven Holl, Ben van Berkel, Zaha Hadid, and Richard Meier were among those given air time. Now Bloomberg has decided that business news is more better. We say more is less.

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Sara Hart