Back to Previous Page

White House, Oval Office, Donald Trump

Artist/Designer: Donald Trump

Project Location: Washington, D.C., United States

Figure 1: Interior view of Oval Office. Image is from an article published by the Atlantic, 2017. ( Source | Accessed : January 9, 2018 | Photographer: Carolyn Kester )
Figure 2: Interior View of Oval Office. Image is from Reuters, 2017. ( Source | Accessed : January 9, 2018 | Photographer: Yuri Gripas )
Figure 3: Interior View of Donald Trump at Resolute Desk in Oval Office, 2017. ( Source | Accessed : January 9, 2018 | Photographer: Breitbart )
Figure 4: Interior of Oval Office ( Source | Accessed : January 16, 2018 | Photographer: AOL )
Figure 5: Interior View of Oval Office from Mercury News, 2017. ( Source | Accessed : January 9, 2018 | Photographer: Alex Wong )
Figure 6: Andrew Jackson, by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl, 1837, Oil on Canvas ( Source | Accessed : January 16, 2018 | Photographer: n.a. )
Figure 7: Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, ca. 1805, Oil on Canvas, Gilbert Stuart ( Source | Accessed : January 16, 2018 | Photographer: Artsy )
Figure 8: Letter from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump, Framed, 1987 ( Source | Accessed : January 16, 2018 | Photographer: The Hill )
Figure 9: Careful Curation of American Flags: The Army, Navy, Marine Corp, and The Coast Guard. ( Source | Accessed : January 16, 2018 | Photographer: Jack News )
Figure 10: Equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson by Clark Mills, and photograph of Fred Trump ( Source | Accessed : January 16, 2018 | Photographer: Getty Images )

Colonial Revival, Modern

Primary Material(s):
Fabric, Textile

Government, Workplace, Residential Structure

Related Website(s):

Significant Date(s):
21st Century, 2017

Additional Information:
In this curated section, I examine the ways in which Trump altered the interior design of the White House to symbolize his presidency. Each carefully chosen object illuminates the ways in which the Trump Administration turned to design to make a claim about the 45th President. I argue that The Trump redecoration project aligns his presidency with previous presidents, and neoliberalism, while, at the same time, legitimizing his rule through news tours and the history of design at the White House.

A trope seen throughout Trump's redecoration of the Oval Office is his nod and references to previous presidents of the United States that Trump aims to equate himself with and tie himself to. This particular trope is exemplified through the portrait of Andrew Jackson that hangs next to the HMS desk. In an interview on the newly decorated Oval Office with Fox News's Hannity Trump proclaims, "I put the picture of Andrew Jackson. I put it up because people said because they said his campaign and my campaign tended to mirror each other.” Later in the interview Hannits directs Trump to the rug he chose to display within the Oval Office. Hannity begins by asking,“Why did you choose the rug of Reagan? You could have also designed your own.” To which Trump’s prompt response is: “And others, but I thought that first of all I liked it, I liked the look, I liked the lightness, and I like having it be Reagan, I like Reagan. I disagreed with him on some things primarily trade. He was not as strong on trade as I felt he should have been, but that’s ok, but he represented us very well.”

When Donald Trump’s renovation of the White House occurred during the summer of 2017 some critics condemned the redecoration while others revered the new interior space. One critic, writing in The New Yorker, sarcastically mocked the president’s decoration by asserting that, “All existing doorknobs, which are way too big, by the way, will be replaced with smaller, more terrific gold doorknobs for people of all hand sizes.” In contrast to The New Yorker’s critique is a video on Youtube by Fox News contending that in the redecoration “There was an emphasis on bringing back the history to this building and the elegance.” These two opposing views propose that the newly designed White House was controversially received.

In an illuminating tour of the Oval Office John Dickerson on May 1, 2017, the host of Face The Nation and Washington Correspondent on the politically leaning left CBS News, interviews Trump on his new decor within the Oval Office. The interview begins with Trump and Dickerson framed against the American military flags Trump has meticulously arranged in the office. Unassumingly Dickerson asserts “Every president makes the oval office their’s.” To which Dickerson has asks a rhetorical question “What have you done to make the oval office yours?” Trump attentively replies in his shark-like political persona: “Well a lot of things we had these incredible flags, including the American flags, and they were in different rooms and they were always being pushed around, because they didn’t have enough room and I said how beautiful the base of the flags: The Army, Navy, Marine Corp, just so beautiful, so beautiful. The Coast Guard flag over here. And I said, well, let’s see how they look in the oval office, so the flags are up.” This particular instance with Dickerson symbolizes the ways in which Trump is utilizing design to assert his legitimacy. Throughout the interview Trump repeatedly calls the flags “beautiful,” further aestheticizing the flags, when in reality the flags are purely symbolic.

Moreover, the space is, perhaps, the most significant and symbolic space of American empire and ruling. In his redesign of the Oval Office Trump makes it clear to the media, the American people, and those who enter this historical space that he is conscious of the symbolism that each object within his office holds. Using design to his advantage Trump conveys his political stance and conservative ideologies.

Significant Objects in Trump's Oval Office:

Abraham Lincoln by George Henry Story
George Washington by Gilbert Stuart
Thomas Jefferson by Gilbert Stuart
Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Ralph E. W. Earl

The Bronco Buster by Frederic Remington
Bust of Abraham Lincoln by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Bust of Winston Churchill by Jacob Epstein

Miscellaneous Memorabilia, Furniture, and Objects:
Letter from President Nixon
The United States Flags: The Army, Navy, Marine Corp, and The Coast Guard.
Desk: Resolute Desk, 1880.

Viewers should treat all images as copyrighted and refer to each image's links for copyright information.