Franklin Report Report Card for Michael S. Smith Inc. in Los Angeles
★ Franklin Report Card

Michael S. Smith Inc.

1646 19th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 315-3018
Main Contact: Michael Smith

Interior Design

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Services & Specialties
Opulently casual, refined interior design

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FR Review:
Though he's the media-pronounced king of the LA interior design world, Michael Smith is not resting on his laurels. Intensely involved with his clients and their projects, Smith delivers an instant pedigree of understated, timeless elegance hearkening to a more innocent era. While Smith disparages designs with a "staged, theatrical vibe," each Smith project is a finely tuned, multilayered performance involving substantial architecture, investment antiques and layers and layers of paint. While clients gush, many others just don't get it. Smith basks in the limelight, most often enjoying the company of movie-star clients and customers with open checkbooks.

Stylistically, Smith's designs are refined and polished versions of historically classical motifs: English country, Art Deco, 1940s French moderne. Smith has the energy to attend to clients in New York, Hawaii and LA all in the same week—often just after shopping in Italy. Jobs are usually over $1 million, sometimes less for patrons with household names. Past and current clients include Rupert Murdoch, Sir Evelyn and Lady de Rothschild, Richard Gere (2 projects), Dustin Hoffman (3), Cindy Crawford (6), Michelle Pfeiffer (4) and Steven Spielberg (5).

Smith charges standard design fees as a percentage of the job, no hourlies and standard product markups. However, the products tend to cost a lot and the architects are often parachuted in from New York. The staff of 24 is said to be exceptionally efficient and the reimbursables are not marked up. Smith is known to doggedly pursue the perfect piece for a client, sometimes using his clout to force a dealer to place an antique on trial in the client's home for longer periods than normal and then negotiate hard on price. While vendors appreciate his sensibility and dedication, he is not their favorite customer. Similarly, he will go to an auction house's rug warehouse to inspect the quality of goods not yet on sale. Clients clearly appreciate the effort and the result, saying that Smith tries very hard to create his effortless perfection. AD 100. HB Top Designer. Elle Decor A-List. AD 100 2018.

Representative Client Comments:
"I still do not know how he does it. The rooms are impossibly beautiful but also very livable." "With tongue firmly implanted in cheek, he never takes himself or the decorating too seriously, although it is clearly serious decorating." "Michael finds it highly amusing to use fabric from Urban Outfitters and priceless antiques in the same room." "Michael canceled our interview. I know he did not think the job was big enough." "Michael is now trying to be more a part of the design community." "He gets completely jazzed about an idea and it is contagious." "Michael's gigantic staff really helps to leverage his time so he can be there for the client." "He has a warehouse of product that he has taken back when the client says no. It just magically disappears." "Does not suffer fools gladly." "You won't believe how much you will spend, but it will be your fault, not his." "He brought life to our home."

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