August 31, 2010

At the Zaha Hadid Café...

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... you can talk about the "urban carpet" effect of architecture in a "somewhat declining downtown"... or anything else that might amuse you.

AND: Speaking of questionable interior space, you might what to weigh in on the redecoration of the Oval Office.

ALSO: Here's how LBJ had it:

DSC02243.JPG

I took that picture at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.

110 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Urban carpet...that would be concrete.

Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

We do NOT have a downtown that is declining in Cincinnati, not even "somewhat." I certainly hope it is not the opinion of Althouse, too.

MadisonMan said...

A little too beige for me, the new Oval Office. Or should I say, too much ecru and wheat.

GMay said...

"The White House, it seems, took pains to ensure that new additions were American made -- including New York wallpaper and a Michigan-made rug."

Looks like he can pad his "Jobs Saved and Created" number now!

madawaskan said...

Bad:couches, coffee table and the throw pillows. Could be any waiting room or funeral parlor.

traditionalguy said...

The middle eastern rich guys are mostly into stone/marble structures to give off a feeling of permanence. But they soften that look inside for better livability with many carpets on their floors and walls. This London based Architect must come from that school. But he makes his carpet look out of stone/concrete too. Give me that good old wood look.

Calypso Facto said...

Carpet smarpet. But did you watch the Brewers and Reds go to 10 innings last night at Great American Ballpark?

MadisonMan said...

I for one appreciate that the White House bought American. That kind of decision should be applauded, not joked about.

Mike said...

Was the White House redecoration donated by Restoration Hardware?

madawaskan said...

They supposedly have this quote -woven into the carpet:

"The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us.
-Theodore Roosevelt.

The first place on the web that I find it includes this part-

"Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and commonsense."... "We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less.""The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us."-Theodore Roosevelt

TMink said...

Mr. Obama won the office, he gets to decorate it. Works for me.

Trey

prairie wind said...

Not only does the Oval look bland, the couches look like rec room furniture. If I were a visiting dignitary, I would want to sit upright on a firm seat. Nothing to make me look slouchy. This stuff looks like O is planning more beer summits.

MadisonMan said...

Heh. Mike, we got the Restoration Hardware catalog the other day. Who has a house that is immensely large enough for that stuff? 10-foot long couches? Insane!

prairie wind said...

I don't see the quotes around the seal in the photo. I know why O chose JFK's "No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings" instead of "Ask not..." Seems like all the quotes except FDR's were selected to justify O's idea that government should take care of us.

Irene said...

The decorating is so white bread.

I mean Wonder Bread.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Boring and bland colors in the Oval Office. The couches do not look like you could sit in them in any dignified manner. Slouchy.

On the otherhand, you don't want to see the office of the President in wild and inappropriate decorations.

So...it really isn't that bad and it really isn't very remarkable.


It would have been nice to see the before and after to see just what had been changed.

Joe said...

Where's the Prayer Rug?

madawaskan said...

The couches bother me-they seem so-

Carteresque.

That's about when that style came about...no?

GMay said...

MadMan lectured: "I for one appreciate that the White House bought American. That kind of decision should be applauded, not joked about."

You know what, you're right.

He's 'telling on' a U.S. state to the U.N., cratering the economy and the job market on a massive scale and I'm supposed to applaud his commitment to America because he hired a few contractors?

What made you think I was joking? Fuck you both.

Seriously.

Kirstin said...

The Oval Office decor is bland and depressing. Also, I sort of expect to see a La-Z-Boy next to the sofas.

prairie wind said...

Maybe even a La-Z-Boy behind the desk.

edutcher said...

Hadid's work looks visually interesting, but, lowbrow that I am, that's about it.

As for the White House, he seems to have disposed of Remington's Cowboy.

The guy has got to go.

Irene said...

The decorating is so white bread.

I mean Wonder Bread.


You mean Oneder Bread. (Had to)

traditionalguy said...

The Jason Heyward phenom in Atlanta has hit its stride with the Braves. His hits seem to be harder than everyone else's hits. In the last 8 games he is hitting 531 with 4 home runs. The Mets are goners this year despite their much higher payroll. I blame Bobby Cox.

AllenS said...

I'll bet that when Michelle takes a look at it, she won't like it. Contrast this look with what kind of clothes she likes to wear.

lemondog said...

White House Museum Oval Office

...all done at no taxpayer expense, the White House says.

MadisonMan said...
A little too beige for me, the new Oval Office. Or should I say, too much ecru and wheat.

Agree. Too neutral. Too bland. Is that the point?

Bush was also very beige_y

Would prefer colors a tad more vibrant and that reflect the country's colors, e.g., the Clinton deep blue rug.

Ugh on the style of furniture.

BUT as long as we are not paying for it.

Who is paying?

AllenS said...

Clinton -- blue rug, blue dress, and stains. Don't forget the stains.

madawaskan said...

OK what the hell-just to be petty.

They are braggin' on the fact that the new wool carpet is some 25% recycled wool-

Well when you are taking out a perfectly good carpet...do you still have to take credit for how you are "recycling" and saving wool when you tossed out a whole heap of good wool?

It's a conundrum.

MadisonMan said...

@Dustbunny, if you click through to the link, there is a before pic. 2nd picture on the website.

AlphaLiberal said...

Now you're attacking Obama over the oval office decor.

Obama could cure cancer tomorrow and you'd find fault with him for that somehow.

Pogo said...

When I am President, my carpet will be made of baby seal and polar bear fur, and say "The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop." ~ P. J. O'Rourke

Pogo said...

"Obama could cure cancer tomorrow and you'd find fault with him for that somehow."

Obama couldn't cure a hangover, tending toward the hair of the dog as he does.

madawaskan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madawaskan said...

Alpha-

defend the throw pillows-

please...

Pogo said...

I won the Oval and I want it painted beige
No colors anymore I want them to turn beige

I see Michelle walk by dressed in her summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my blandness goes


Barry Jagger, The Roiling Stones

rhhardin said...

My own office should serve as a model.

traditionalguy said...

One thing to remember about LBJ and Obama is that they were and are smokers. Those colors would do better in heavy smoking rooms.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@Madison Man

Thanks. The before was pretty bland and boring too.

Pogo said...

Why no giant paintings of dogs playing poker?

AlphaLiberal said...

BTW, I want to say Senator Orrin Hatch did the right thing (that hurt!) when he stood up for religious freedom and opposed efforts to shut down the Muslim Community center at the former Burlington Coat Factory.

Sadly, we saw more anti-Muslim violence in Tennessee over the weekend, including arson and gunfire.

Kirstin said...

I wasn't "attacking" Obama for the redecoration. I just think it's drab. It might look beautiful and impressive in person.

I liked the Clinton Oval Office, and he definitely wasn't my favorite president.

madawaskan said...

Come on Alpha-

toss a pillow....

Christy said...

OMGoodness! The new Oval Office is straight out of the Sims 2 Double Deluxe Buy catalog! You could buy the entire room, including the exact wallpaper and wainscoting, for maybe 10,000 simoleons.

I like it. Except for the coffee table and the fact that the furniture placement reduces the prestige of the Seal. The most Powerful Man in the World can have whatever office he wants. Except that this is in such careful good taste that it reinforces the narrative that Obama is an empty suit.

MadisonMan said...

The before was pretty bland and boring too.

One change I do like is the white paint on the door trim, and the vertical stripes on the wallpaper. But the furniture is snoozeville.

I wonder if they stripped the old paint off first.

Trooper York said...

That little chair in front of the rocker is where Doris Kearns Goodwin used to sit when she gave LBJ a hummer while she was working at the Library.

Pogo said...

Trooper, I thought hummers weren't available until like 1992.

Trooper York said...

Not that kind of hummer Pogo.

Doris copied her techique from her friend Nina Totenberg who gave William O Douglas one once and never got over it.

HDHouse said...

Christy said...
"... this is in such careful good taste that it reinforces the narrative that Obama is an empty suit."

ahhh Christy, my hunch and just thinkin' out loud here, is that a decorator did it and the President was probably not too involved at the fabric store...just a hunch...call me crazy.


Ohhh and I'll bet a lot of the posters got confused over the picture that was carried in the main part of the thread and thought that was the new oval office rather than taking the link and reading the text that came with it...again..just a hunch.

Trooper York said...

Doris likes to copy stuff. Just sayn'

madawaskan said...

MadisonMan-

Snoozeville is the word.

The only good that come of it is that four Rahm Emanuels could take naps on 'em.

E.M. Davis said...

Hey Alpha-

Off topic much?

Trooper York said...

But LBJ was glad that Doris copied Nina's method instead of Helen Thomas.

Helen specialized in the get them drunk then bite down hard and spit it out.

That's why Wilbur Mills was drunk all the time and hanging out with strippers in the Tidal Basin.

Trooper York said...

I am just glad that our current President will not indulge in the same activities in the Oval Office.

I mean there is no way that he will try to get a hummer in the Oval Office.

Trooper York said...

Well at least from a girl.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

DaveW said...

The old carpet was much better looking. On the other hand the new wallpaper looks way better...but wouldn't have worked with the old carpet. Look at the third photo in the link, see the grain in the new carpet? Eew.

I'd have gone for some contrast in the drapes, I'm thinking of maybe a really deep rich green.

Those couches...I wouldn't put one in my garage for the dogs to sleep on. As long as you can sit on them for a meeting...but it doesn't look like you could to me.

/shrug. It's his office, if he likes it then it's fine.

BJM said...

@Christy

Exactly!! I knew it looked familiar.

I have no problem with a new President changing the office to suit his taste. I am sure there are many firms eager to donate to the WH. I'd also guess that two years into his term that the Bush library was probably pressing to have his bits and pieces.

However, the timing is another forced error when they are sixty days out from critical mid-terms with the economy floundering, unemployment rising and foreclosures skyrocketing.

Americans who are packing their belongings as the sheriff nails a 3 day quit notice to the door may not be impressed.

Especially given that it comes hard on the heels of multiple gaffs, vacations and Michele's lavish trip. It's almost as if someone is deliberately sabotaging the WH from within.

Perhaps Obama really doesn't want a second term.

El Pollo Real said...

That little chair in front of the rocker is where Doris Kearns Goodwin used to sit when she gave LBJ a hummer while she was working at the Library.

I heard that Doris Goodwin worked with Nixon later on.

Doris called him Dick to his face.

wv = presser

David said...

Here are the quotes BHO put on the rug:

"The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself" -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt
"The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice" -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Government of the People, By the People, For the People" -- President Abraham Lincoln
"No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings" - President John F. Kennedy
"The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us" -- President Theodore Roosevelt


Detect a theme?

Me neither.

Trooper York said...

Well someday a future President will put the most famous saying of President Obama on their carpet.

They can choose from:

"My grandmother was a typical white person."

"Those people are just clinging to their guns and their religion."

"I have visited all 57 states."

"Joe you have to understand that we have to redistribute the wealth to make it fairer."

"You're likeable enough Hillary."

"Now can I eat my waffle?"

Trooper York said...

I like the waffle one myself.

prairie wind said...

I couldn't see any of the quotes on the rug. They could have made the lettering larger by combining the quotes: The only thing to bend the moral universe is government over human beings dependent on welfare.

Freeman Hunt said...

"The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself" -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt
"The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice" -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Government of the People, By the People, For the People" -- President Abraham Lincoln
"No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings" - President John F. Kennedy
"The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us" -- President Theodore Roosevelt


Where did these come from? One of those quote-a-day Twitter feeds? Or maybe those little page a day tear off calendars?

Jim said...

Overall, I like it. I'm not sold on the couches until I see someone sitting on them. The coffee table is strange looking. I agree that new drapes in a green or rich blue would be a good contrast. I love the wallpaper and the rug (you can vaguely make out the words on the outer edge of the rug in that first picture). It'll grow on people. After all, we're going to be seeing it for the next 6 years or so.

Shanna said...

I hate the desk (not sure if they replaced that or not, it looks similar to the other). The LBJ desk was pretty and i liked the layout, nice and circular. I don't know why they chose that coffee table and the throw pillows are awful. The couches look comfy. I guess that's good.

Sixty Grit said...

LBJ's version looks as like an office occupied by a man. Omongrel's is full of teh ghey.

Freeman Hunt said...

Rug, meet fireplace.

Freeman Hunt said...

Not specific to this redecoration, but I wish that those wall-doors in the Oval Office looked like real doors.

prairie wind said...

LBJ's version looks as like an office occupied by a man.
And here, I was thinking that it was occupied by Mary Kay.

madawaskan said...

The Theodore Roosevelt quote comes from a 1903 speech-you can read it in it's entirety -

Link


I think the Obama Administration might have missed this part of it:

The failure in public and in private life thus to treat each man on his own merits, the recognition of this government as being either for the poor as such or for the rich as such, would prove fatal to our Republic, as such failure and such recognition have always proved fatal in the past to other republics.

A healthy republican government must rest upon individuals, not upon classes or sections. As soon as it becomes government by a class or by a section it departs from the old American ideal.

Freeman Hunt said...

I guess he listened to Nate Berkus. Thank goodness he did not listen to Kelly Wearstler.

Freeman Hunt said...

The Rose Tarlow one from that article would have been my pick, I think.

Irene said...

The desktop is empty.

former law student said...

Beige is soothing to look at, and does not clash with colorfully dressed visitors.

Note that he lens makes the Oval Office look much bigger than it is.

JFK's "No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings"

Had he wanted to slam Bush, he could have added Einstein's “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Obama's office does seem to lack statuary. I suggest another historic Illinoisan, the great general and Senator, John A. "Black Jack" Logan.

Shanna said...

"Government of the People, By the People, For the People" -- President Abraham Lincoln

I hate how chopped up this is as a quote. What was wrong with the whole quote? I like the “shall not perish from the earth” part better than what was quoted? Then again, I am not a liberal.

former law student said...

The desktop is empty.

Possible explanations:

1. Obama's a clean desk guy.
2. He cleared it off because he knew the photographers were coming. Normally it's cluttered with a hundred post-it notes and scribbled-on cocktail napkins.
3. Leaving state secrets out when strangers are coming is a bad policy.
4. This is not the real Oval Office. This is the one a hundred feet down a salt mine.

Irene said...

fls, I agree.

I am a clean desk gal.

Triangle Man said...

Where is the ash tray?

Ralph L said...

the Bush library was probably pressing to have his bits and pieces.
"I'm quite fond of them and took them with me in 2009."
- Trooper's Laura Bush Dairy

Irene said...

Freeman Hunt said, "I guess he listened to Nate Berkus."

Another Oprah connection?

Revenant said...

The new Oval Office design is pretty banal. It looks like a Hilton hotel lobby.

Here is a set of pictures of past Oval Office looks. I would say that both Bushes were pretty mediocre too. Clinton had the best, followed by Reagan and Carter.

Bob_R said...

Good news:

1. It looks like a Holiday Inn Express.

2. Obama will be smarter tomorrowm

I can't wait!

Bob_R said...

I will not be able to type while lying on the couch towerwrw.

MamaM said...

Blah.

Blah, blah, blah,
blah, blah
blah blah

It looks generic.

What is the purpose of the two rigid side chairs flanking the desk?

A place for recalcitrant scofflaws to sit and be schooled? Maybe he keeps the wooden ruler in the desk drawer.

BJM said...

@als

Sadly, we saw more anti-Muslim violence in Tennessee over the weekend, including arson and gunfire.

Every immigrant group has had it's share of violence, discrimination and hardship. What makes Muslims a protected class more than the Irish, German, Poles, Jews, Italians or any immigrant group before them?

Do you know why there are so many 2nd & 3rd generation Italian-Americans who do not speak Italian? Because the kids got the shit kicked out of them if they didn't speak English, and during WWII Italians feared for their lives in many parts of the country. My German grandparents experienced the same after WWI.

In California Chinese weren't even considered "human"and don't even get me started on the Japanese, Vietnamese or Filipinos.

So cry me a fucking river and get over it.

d-day said...

Forget the content - he put WORDS on the RUG. So tacky. So obvious. Maybe he should stencil on one of those horrible "live, laugh, love" messages all over the walls.

Seriously, Obama, words do not belong in your decor. Words have a place--paper or monitor. If you feel the need to put words all around you to look out, you need to get out of your paper-centric world. There's a real world. Words do not belong everywhere. They do not belong on your rug. Get away from the words.

How can anyone possibly think that someone with a nuanced and refined intellect, capable of grasping deep nuance WOULD PUT WORDS ON THE FLOOR.

Penny said...

First things first...Althouse nearly always opens my eyes through her own "artful" ways....beautiful photographs, insiteful (or inciteful) commentary, not to mention the "juxtaposition" of both.

Do you see how she does that? Honestly, when she is at her best, I find that it takes my breath away.

You are a BORN teacher, Althouse, and I am priviledged to have met your company.

Ralph L said...

I suppose they removed the chandelier so the mic booms wouldn't hit it.

Christy said...

Revenant, I agree, Clinton had the best. I love globes so I have to vote for Truman's as my next favorite.

former law student said...

Forget the content - he put WORDS on the RUG. So tacky.

He better razor up that whole "E Pluribus Unum" deal from the Presidential Seal. Seriously, what's up with that?

JAL said...

Shanna (I think)

I believe the desk is the Resolute desk. National Treasure notwithstanding, the Resolute desk has a fascinating history. google it. (Footnote to all: Brits are crazy.)

IIRC, Kennedy brought it out of the basement. I think most of the other presidents since have used it.

wv dignali
Italian visitors to the Oval Office

Penny said...

That being said...

Why are my Althouse companions focusing on decorating? We are puzzlers, dammit!

Let's just assume our brilliant hostess wanted us to focus on her post heading..."At the Zaha Hadid Cafe". How might we reconcile the post heading with the "chum" - shark food- of "presidential decorating", which, of course, has all of us with our strongly felt personal opinions, yet does very little in moving us closer to much of anything besides agreeing that we can "argue" about decorating and still like each other. Right???

It's a start....

There's a connection here, folks, and it has not ONE thing to do with decorating.

Chip Ahoy said...

I'm particularly drawn to the new presidential seal with 57 stars.

traditionalguy said...

I love your comments Penney. We need to remember that we are in the company of a world class teacher.

former law student said...

IIRC, Kennedy brought it out of the basement. I think most of the other presidents since have used it.

A fun but spotty history on whitehousemuseum.org: The Resolute desk was used by every President from Hayes through JFK, but JFK was the first to put it in the Oval Office. When the desk was received, the President's Office was today's Lincoln Bedroom. When the Oval Office was completed in 1909, the desk stayed where it was. It bounced around a bit, from the President's study to the Yellow Oval Room to the Treaty Room. Under Truman, a special broadcast room was created in the basement, and the Resolute Desk moved there. While Truman and Ike both used the Broadcast Room, the appeal of a windowless room soon faded. JFK pulled it out of the disused Broadcast Room and installed it in the Oval Office.

But, LBJ did not want to use it, and sent it on tour as a JFK memento. Neither Nixon nor Ford used it. Jimmy Carter was the first to put it back in the Oval Office. Succeeding Presidents used it as well, although GHW Bush used it in a different room.

Interesting to me is that the desk was a partner desk, made for two people to work across from each other. The modesty panel we see was ordered and carved, but not installed, under FDR to disguise his polio-related hardware.

Revenant said...

Sadly, we saw more anti-Muslim violence in Tennessee over the weekend, including arson and gunfire.

The mere act of hearing gunfire in rural Tennessee is "violence" now, is it? Boy, I sure was subjected to a lot of violence growing up.

You're right about the arson, though.

BJM said...

@revenant

I thought Clinton's French blue carpet was a bit garish with the deep gold drapery, but I did like the use of period furnishings, artwork and classic fabrics. I didn't care for W's wahoo sunburst carpet either.

Given that this is the most powerful office in the world,Obama's oval office projects neither power nor authority. Perhaps that was the point; to defang the image.

However, the lack of a delineated style and characterless furnishings is puzzling when the WH has a rich history and inventory on which to draw.

OTOH-Michelle's office has a more vibrant color palette that seems to suit her quite well.
[warning: the linked site could be a major time suck]

Revenant said...

BJM,

There's a fine line between garish and striking, but I thought Clinton's office came down on the right side of it. The Bushes and Obama had/have this bloodless hotel room look -- no personality, no history. You could get a better looking Oval Office at Ikea, really.

Penny said...

"We need to remember that we are in the company of a world class teacher."

Sometimes. And sometimes, not so much, tg.

But tonight? I wanted to give credit to Althouse when it was surely due.

Ralph L said...

fls, I'll wager the desk doesn't have enough knee room for LBJ or GHWB, since it was made by those tiny Victorians. I'm surprised Obama can stand it--perhaps this explains the vacations.

Pastafarian said...

I hate to criticize Obama for something this trivial; but it doesn't look like a work-space to me.

Overly soft sofas with a shin-level coffee table between them, end tables to hold your margarita while you shoot the shit with the boys.

Office furniture should be hard leather and wood, goddammit. Colors should be bolder and...what's the word? Simpler? And the arrangement of furniture should be utilitarian. There's still beauty in that, just a different kind, the type you'd expect to find in an office. It looks like they had one of those feng shui hacks in there with a dowsing rod and magic crystals.

Kirk Parker said...

Wow, LBJ was a pinko???

Freeman Hunt said...

Lyndon Johnson had the floor replaced in the mid-1960s with wood-grain linoleum.

What the hell?

former law student said...

What the hell?

Ike messed up the wood floor with his golf spikes -- another WTF? moment.

former law student said...

And the arrangement of furniture should be utilitarian.

The Oval Office layout has been the same for years. The couches have been amazingly similar. Obama has less furniture than many.

But the President always has his study next door for true utilitarianism. Check out Reagan's lounger and hassock:

http://www.whitehousemuseum.org/west-wing/presidents-study.htm

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rhhardin said...

Mark Simone: They changed everything in the Oval Office except the President. The carpet was fine...

ricpic said...

Did LBJ have the walls of the Oval Office painted pink?!?!

former law student said...

The carpet was fine...

The carpet had been W's carpet, which was a close copy of Reagan's carpet. Why not just send Ron's carpet out to be cleaned, if the design was satisfactory? Further, what happened to the principle of going to war with the carpet you have, not the carpet you would like to have?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Did LBJ have the walls of the Oval Office painted pink?!?!

I guess you're too young to remember the colors of the 60's. There was a particularlly ugly shade of tan that was popular back then for walls that had undertones of the dead pink color of a shaved cat.

Almost as ugly as avocado or tomato colored appliances. Blech!!

1jpb said...

Folks can vote on their favorite oval going back to Carter.

I was the tenth person to vote. So, either I was very early, or those folks have awful traffic, or the traffic they have doesn't like online polls.

DaveW said...

Why not just send Ron's carpet out to be cleaned, if the design was satisfactory?

I'm guessing they give the old carpets to the presidential libraries for the mock-ups they make. It would make sense and they do these refurbs with private money after all.

There was a big re-work on the whole White House years ago, I can't remember exactly when. I think it was Nancy Reagan that raised the money and had it done.

The place was falling apart, had cracks. It was originally built before electricity and air conditioning, and I remember being surprised to hear it had electrical wires stapled to the walls and surface mounted air ducts.

I can't remember how much money they spent but it was a lot at the time. I think it took them a couple years to raise enough to get started.