Mayor Marion Barry has a round conference table with a chrome-plated base and half a dozen chrome-legged chairs. So does the mayor's right hand man, general assistant Ivanhoe Donaldson. So does special assistant Diane C. Lewis. And special assistant Edward Meyers. And special assistant Matthew Shannon. And special assistant Lillian Sedgwick.
"The round table has become the status symbol of the new administration," said Sam D. Starobin, director of the D.C. Department of General Services, jokingly. "The mayor asked for one and then everyone else wanted one."
The mayor's wife, First Lady Effi Barry, was oohing and ashing the other day as workmen hung 15 milticolored contemporary Senegalese tapestries in the corridor ieading to her husband's office. Making that corridor into a mini-gallery of art is one of Mrs. Barry's personal projects.
"The District Building should be a building utilized by people, not just a place to come and make complaints," she said.
She also plans to redecorate her husband's office in a style that she said would be "kind of eclectic, Third World and international."
"Mayor Washington was an older man," said Mrs. Barry. "Some things [in the office now] reflect the characteristics of an older man. Marion is a younger man. Some of the things we get will reflect the characteristics of a younger man."
Two months into offive, the cadre of young, middle-class former community activists who from a large portion of the mayor's personal office staff has begun to make its decorative mark in the corridors and offices and even on the desk tops of the traditionally drab District Building.
Orange, earth-tones, green plants and African artifactos are in.
Press secretary Florence Tate has a butcher-block coffee table to go with the low-backed, Danish-style sofa in her office.
The style of the new breed at city hall is Afro-Bloomingdales, replacing the career-bureaucrat, governmentissue gray steel decor characteristic of Washington's top aides, Julian Dugas and John Risher, kept jars of red-and-yellow civil defense surplus candy balls in their offices. Barry and Donadson are into dryroasted peanuts.
The cost of furnishings alone for the large new central office staff could reach about $15,000, according to Executive Secretary Dwight S. Cropp. Some costs are especially high because items have been purchased from private vendors rather than through the federal government in order to avoid delays in delivery.
Starebin estimated that the beige pile carpeting will cost another $6,000-$8,000. The city has spent about $10,000-$15,000 carvidng up the large, highceilingd rooms of the District Building to make offices for the new mayor's staff.
Cropp said that when the new administration took over the fourth and fifth floors of the District Building in January, it found little furniture on hand that it could use.
"It was 10 years old, most of it was battered and worn out and fifthy dirty, and the mayor didn't feel as though he could ask people to come in in a new administration in such conditions," Cropp said. "Once every 10 years the mayor's office can get a little rejuvenation."
Because Barry's central office staff is much larger than Washington's, many of the old officers formerly occupied by a single bureaucrat have been divided.
For example, the largest office in the building, formerly occupied by Dugas, has been divided by carpet-covered screens into space for four persons.
Cropp said that administration officials had rummaged through several city warehouses in search of materials already owned by the city. Some furniture was salvaged from the office of former general assistant Joseph P. Yeldell, said Cropp, but otherwise the officials found little that was usable.
Each mayoral aide who moved into an unfurnished office was given a spending limit for new items, and then allowed to make purchases from a catalog. Those in furnished offices inherited what was already there, Cropp said.