Catching Up with the Curator: The Obama State China Service


Female Speaker: And the name
of the blue color — The President: Is — Female Speaker: — Kailua
Blue. The President: Aw, Kailua
Blue. Female Speaker: The soup
tureen. Kailua Blue. The President: I like that. Getting a little Hawaiian,
isn’t it? (laughter) ♪ (music) ♪ Mrs. Obama: It’s here. The china is here. ♪ (background music) ♪ Mrs. Obama: This is actually
the first time I have seen everything all at once. We’ve seen bits and pieces
of it. The color is just — it’s
beautiful. You really — you guys — it
really looks good. Sorry, I’m just taking a
moment. (laughter) William Allman: Today we’re
talking about a brand-new state service of china. The Obama State China
Service is on the table here, to my left. This was specifically
designed at the request of First Lady Michelle Obama to
include some historic elements, some traditional
elements, and some attempts at being
modern and suitable to more modern cooking than perhaps
some of the earlier state chinas that are regularly in
use. Mrs. Obama: What the chefs
were telling us is that, you know, the plate
structure of some of the old china doesn’t work for
modern plating because the circumference is smaller. And so having something that
matches what food service looks like today, in these
days, was very helpful. William Allman: The first
plate that you’d see on the table is a large gold-banded
service plate with the Presidential Coat-of-Arms at
the center. It’s matched with a number
of pieces that have a brand-new blue color. It’s being called Kailua
Blue by the First Lady in honor of the waters off the
President’s home state of Hawaii. It’s a color that she
selected to be modern but traditional enough that the
china can be mixed and matched with the state
chinas in the more traditional primary color
pallet. And defector is in Antioch,
Illinois, so — The President: It’s got all
kinds of home connections here. Female Speaker:
(affirmative). And we’re to use that —
we’re using it for Tuesday, for the Japan state dinner. That’s why we’re unveiling
it. William Allman: There is a
dinner plate. A white plate with just a
gold rim that has the most historic precedent. It was designed using a
service the then-Secretary of State, James Madison,
owned in 1806. Would have been a personal
china, and was probably the service
they used in the post-fire temporary White Houses when
they had to bring a lot of their own personal things to
help fill up emergency government quarters. But it’s done only in white
relief, so it’s — again, it’s a — it’s a modern
statement using a 200-year-old motif. Mrs. Obama: We tried to tie
in the old and the new. And I think this really
does, in a way that’s still
elegant and I think will be timeless. So — but you guys get the
first look. Female Speakers: Thank you. William Allman: The
Presidential Coat-of-Arms appears, as is tradition, on
the first plate you see on the table, the service
plate, and the last items you see
on a formal dinner table, which is the desert plate at
the far right, and the little cup and
saucer here at the center that would be the tea or
coffee that would be served with the desert course. So there are eleven pieces
in the place setting. One new feature is a little
individual tureen, and it’s unprecedented in
the china services that we have had in the White House
up to this point. Mrs. Obama: But the tureen
was something that — the chef said, “One of the
reasons we don’t do soups or interesting creations like
that — because we don’t have any way to serve it.” So we’re very proud of
(inaudible). (laughter) Mrs. Obama: Very proud. The President: I will
compliment my wife. (laughter) The President: That’s very
nice.

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