Donald Trump has a very specific sense of style.
His multiple properties and now the White House all speak to the same sense of taste, which doesn’t necessarily conform to traditional design categories, but rather stands out as a blatant display of wealth and power. One correspondent from Politico summed it up nicely: “The theme is success, wealth, winning, and the aesthetic is bright, brassy, loud—or, depending whom you ask, gaudy and fake.”
The article goes on to compare the President’s design choices with those of tyrant dictators from around the world both past and present. What this says about Trump’s motivations and ruling principles points to an alarming truth — he wears his wealth like a badge of honor, decorating his residences for showmanship, not for comfort.
No decade more perfectly demonstrates this concept than the 1980s. During this time of economic growth, home décor styles followed the money, so to speak, and showing off became the new decorating currency. How fitting that Trump was also at his height of fame during this time. Trump once called his seven-bedroom Manhattan penthouse one of “the finest apartments in the top building in the best location in the hottest city in the world.”
Read on to see the 1980s design trends that the current leader of the free world still cherishes.
1. Gold everything
Gold has reigned as the physical representation of wealth since the beginning of monarchies, and no one loves gold accents better than Donald Trump.
The 80s also saw its fair share of gold-hued everything, from brass fixtures to gilded mirrors, golden statues, and shiny wallpaper. Think of it as the antithesis of the modern tendency towards restraint and minimalism — the gold lover likes things bright, gleaming, opulent, and overstated. One glimpse at any of Trump’s residences proves that he is obsessed with gold-hued everything.
2. Marble surfaces
Gold and marble go together like peanut butter and jelly, or like Donald Trump and the 80s. While more modern homeowners gravitate towards materials like reclaimed wood and granite, marble stands in stark contrast as looking cold and somewhat ostentatious.
In the 80s, marble surfaces spanned across floors, countertops, and even walls. Colored marble even made an appearance in this era and often pale shades of pink and green won out over boring white. The entire look came off as impersonal, yet wealthy — a style that Trump embraces wholeheartedly to this day.
3. Mirrors, mirrors everywhere
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) November 13, 2016
Perhaps the most ubiquitous 1980s stereotype is the presence of mirrors. Besides just the square version hung on walls (set in an ornate gilded frame, of course), mirrors found their way onto tabletops, furniture, knobs, railings, and walls, so that it was next to impossible to make your way through an 80’s-era home without being confronted with a clear picture of yourself.
But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? People who embrace this aesthetic, like Trump, are just a tiny bit impressed with their own power, and naturally like to see their own image staring back at them.
4. Hotel-like interiors
Embed from Getty Images
Forget comfort and warmth — a 1980s era home is all about showmanship, and often the rooms more closely resemble hotel or casino lobbies than they do private residences.
Donald Trump’s design choices match this ideal. Trump’s Manhattan penthouse is described in this way: “The home had lots of gilded French furniture and the strange impersonal look of a hotel lobby, with chairs and sofas placed uncomfortably far from one another.”
5. Ornate French Baroque furnishings
If modernism had an opposite, it would be French Baroque. Anyone who chooses 18th century French furnishings opts for excessive detail and flourishes meant to invoke a sense of wealth that demands unnecessary details at every turn. French décor is lavish, grand, and opulent. In other words, it’s so very 80s.
As expected, Donald Trump has no shortage of 18th century French furnishings interspersed throughout his residences. His Manhattan apartment is a dead ringer for French King Louis XIV and King Louis XV’s Palace of Versailles, a gilded monument of wealth and power which inspired poor peasants to stage the French Revolution.
One important note here: most of these furnishings are new reproductions, not real antiques. Because who would want musty old furniture? Not Trump.
When it comes to lighting, 80s homeowners once again chose theatrics over practicality. Why opt for simple recessed lighting when you could hang an in-your-face chandelier?
When you think about it, chandeliers fit in with the 80s design style perfectly. Shiny, glittering, reflective, overpriced, unnecessary… they’re purely decorative. And while a modest chandelier may find a place in many different décor genres, the ones that Trump prefers are comically oversized and flamboyant.
Trump bought a crystal chandelier to hang above the table in his new private dining room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He used his own money, and referred to it as his “contribution to the White House.”
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) July 16, 2016
What makes a chair a throne? Some say it’s a simple matter of attitude.
Much ado was made about Trump’s choice of chair for a 60 Minutes interview during his campaign. The chair was — obviously — ornate and gilded. But it’s not just the 1980s that loved a good golden chair. Some of the world’s most ambitious and sometimes tyrannical rulers also loved thrones of gold, including Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and Napoleon Bonaparte, to name a few.
To date, the president hasn’t replaced his Oval Office chair with a chair made of gold. But as we’ve seen … anything is possible.
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