The Hollywood Reporter's 25 Most Influential Interior Designers in L.A.
If L.A. has a reigning emperor of decor, it’s Michael S. Smith. The designer — whose first big commission in his twenties was for Bruce Springsteen — redid the private quarters and Oval Office for President and Michelle Obama, has published three books (with a fourth set for 2013) and was just named the creative director of 112-year-old fabric company Brunschwig & Fils. Smith, who hails from Newport Beach, Calif., is doing a house in London for Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet, designed the Long Island house Rupert Murdoch sold last year for $9 million and includes Harrison Ford, George Clooney and Peter and Megan Chernin on his L.A. roster.
Clients treasure his expert composition, refined color sense and skill at creating a (quiet) monied look that still has personality. “For me, it’s about a sense of balance, such as adding a strong Roman antique to a modern interior,” says the designer. Two years ago, he traded in his traditional Bel-Air house (he also owns a Manhattan duplex) for a modern manse in Holmby Hills. He and partner James Costos, a vp at HBO, have become two of Obama’s top fund-raisers, hosting an event at their house in June attended by the first lady that raised more than $1 million.
Current inspirations: “I’m obsessed with sophisticated ’70s houses in L.A. not groovy ’70s — Sue Mengers’ or Bob Evans’ house and Lee Grant’s Beverly Hills house in Shampoo.”