First Lady Dr. Jill Biden announced over the weekend that she tapped Los Angeles interior designer Mark D. Sikes to decorate her East Wing office. But whether or not people knew it, Sikes’s designs are already beloved across the U.S., thanks to a certain Nancy Meyers.
Sikes once bumped into Meyers while she was shopping on La Cienega Boulevard with her daughter Annie. Not knowing who the other one was, they struck up a conversation and he helped her pick out fabrics. A month later, she reached out and asked him to decorate her L.A. home, which turned into Sikes also helping to design some of Meyers’s iconic movie sets, like The Intern. So when all that “Nancy Meyers kitchen frenzy” ensued? You can partially credit Sikes. Reese Witherspoon is also a client and fan. Now, working in the Biden White House, his influence on American design will be official.
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Decorating the East Wing Office and private quarters of the President is a longstanding tradition of First Ladies, dating back to (who else?) Jackie Kennedy. It is done in collaboration with the White House Association, a private nonprofit founded by Kennedy that operates on donations and helps preserve the design integrity of the executive mansion. We are still awaiting news regarding who will decorate the Bidens’ private residence within the White House, making Sikes the first designer to be publicly announced as working with the first family.
The statement from the First Lady’s office said, “While most First Ladies immediately come in and make changes to the areas where they spend the most time, Dr. Biden had not focused on this to date, between her travel across the country, teaching, and her issue portfolio.”
Choosing an interior designer for the White House is not only a reflection of the first family, but it helps reframe the building’s history for the current generation. Jackie Kennedy worked with Sister Parrish to solidify true American design at a time when most looked to Europe for sophisticated style. And when the Obamas worked with Michael S. Smith to redecorate the executive mansion, the focus was on creating a more welcome and inclusive space, where history could mix and mingle with the present-day.
While we wait to see what Sikes’s designs will communicate, a few clues from his previous work: crisp white and blue color palettes, lots of pattern, and a mix of traditional American with California cool. In other words, classic, but inviting, polished, but not too showy—very much like Dr. Biden herself.
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