The new Obama State China Service, designed by first lady Michelle Obama, will make its official debut on Monday

By Tierney McAfee
April 27, 2015 01:35 PM
Amanda Lucidon/White House

Michelle Obama is making her mark on the White House dining room.

The first lady joined forces with White House curator William Allman and AD100 designer Michael S. Smith to create the new Obama State China Service, a stunning set of tableware to be used by not only the Obamas, but by many future first families to come.

Obama, 51, follows in the footsteps of many presidents and first ladies before her who purchased or commissioned china services for official use, including the Reagans, the Lincolns and Laura and George W. Bush, to name a few.

It’s a longstanding tradition that dates back to the early 19th century, but of course, our ever-fashionable first lady found a way to freshen it up. Veering away from the more primary red, green, blue and yellow hues used on recent state services, Obama’s 11-piece mismatched gold and “Kailua blue” table settings serve up a more modern feel.

According to Architectural Digest, Obama said at the unveiling of the new china on Thursday, “If you’ve seen our state dinners, we really do a lot of mixing and matching – sometimes because we really do not have enough, sometimes because we’re trying to create a new modern, different, edgy kind of look. This Kailua blue is one of those colors that will complement some of the other pieces already in the collection in a way that’s elegant, and I think it will be timeless. This really came out well. Nice job, everyone involved!”

The 320 place settings were designed with love and care, with Obama consulting the White House chefs and cooking staff. The service, donated by the White House Endowment Trust and administered by the White House Historical Association, is the first to include a tureen, which can be used for soups, desserts and more.

The striking “Kailua Blue” color that lines the majority of the pieces was inspired by the water in President Obama‘s home state of Hawaii. And the service’s manufacturer, Pickard China, is based in Antioch, Illinois, the first lady’s home state.

“The first lady has often said that she views her family as caretakers of the White House,” says Smith, the designer. “And one of the most important ideas behind the creation of this china was that it must be useful not just for the Obama family but for all future presidents and their families. We wanted it to be modern, so it’s not a matching set, but there is a continuity and theme that joins the pieces. It’s a fresh approach, and one that respects and honors the remarkable beauty and history of the entire White House china collection.”

The Obama State China Service will make its official debut on Monday at the Japan State Dinner, where we’re sure many a glass will be raised to the designer.

Amanda Lucidon/White House

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