What Laura Bush Told Me At The White House.

http://www.nationaldesignawards.org/2008/I had brunch at the White House on Monday, thanks to being a Finalist for a National Design Award, given by the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (yep, it’s a mouthful). We all posed for a photo, Mrs. Bush came out, shook each of our hands, and we smiled for the camera. It was my first time meeting her and she was calm and confident as she walked down the line, looking each of us in the eye and congratulating us. For those of you who care (and there are many, I know), Mrs. Bush wore a beige (tan?—I’m a guy and can’t do colors well) skirt suit with silvery thread woven into the fabric. Pearls (I think). Beige closed-toe shoes. Make-up, coiffed.

She gave a short speech on design, describing traditional design categories, such as architecture, interior design, landscaping, as important.

OK, here’s something new. In the hallway, Mrs. Bush said that the Bush Presidential library would be “the greenest” Presidential library ever, “with geothermal” and other good green things. Remember that the Bush ranch house in Texas has geothermal heating and is pretty green. Mrs. Bush also said that Robert Stern would be the architect. Stern, who’s taught at Yale for many years, is, of course, a well-known architect and writer. His latest work is 15 CPW—the most residential expensive condo in Manhattan. It just opened. I just read that an apartment bought for $30 million when it was in development is on the market for $90 million.

Lots of people were at the White House fete, including a few that I knew. John Maeda, the new head of RISD was there. David Rockwell, founder of the Rockwell Group, won for Interior Design and he was there. Google won for Corporate Achievement and Melissa Mayer, who was on our first Inside Innovation cover, was at the White House reception. Along with her mom. I also talked with Frank Tyneski, the new head of the Industrial Designers Society of America. We publsh the annual winners of the International Design Excellence Awards in a few hours. Siggi and Massa, founders of the incredible firm Antenna Design, won after being a Finalist twice, and they were there. Siggi's mom was there (All the mom's posed with Laura Bush and had their photos taken. I hear fuseproject's Yves Behar took his mom last year).

I had skipped all the tours of the White House when I was in grade school so this was my first time. It's incredibly ornate, at least the Green, Red and Blue rooms that I visited. All the people guiding us were military personnel in dress uniforms. David Rockwell and I both were taken by this. The President and his family live surrounded and protected by the military. We don't. The 20-somethings in uniform were incredibly helpful--and commanding. When they told us we had to move on and clear a room, we moved. And rather fast for a bunch of "cultural creatives."

Sorry, no photos. The White House doesn't post on the web and I have to wait 6-8 weeks.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.