what’s in your toolbox: david stark

Here at Design*Sponge, we have not even attempted to mask our crush on event designer and planner, David Stark! (Just for starters, see his in the kitchen with recipe, his diy interview/video, and this fun diy post-it project) His fresh approach to design is equal measures clever innovation and cheeky wit. He can successfully transition from creating elaborately elegant environments with high-profile clients, to repurposing the humble post-it into a work of art. He can even turn your unlovable paperbacks into a garden shoppe of curiosities! Back in 2007 we featured David’s phenomenal, cheerful home in our sneak peek column, and now we happily turn your attention to his equally inspiring studio. Here he shares his tools of the trade and lets us in on how the man behind the magic manages all his many ventures! Happy Creatives take heed!

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox?

David: My toolbox is the world, and I am always looking for unexpected materials to be the star of our works.  Anything is fair game and some examples of materials that we have employed are the pages of discarded books, 16,000 colored pencils, fresh boxwood, cacti, gesso-ed canvas – the more varied and unlikely, the more exciting!

2. Design*Sponge:Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel… like a lucky duck.”

CLICK HERE for the rest of David’s interview, his tips for combating creative blocks, and his favorite design tools after the jump!

1. Design*Sponge:What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now? This can be anything from blogs, books, magazines, vintage catalogues/manuals, etc.

David: Roy McMakin’s new book, WHEN IS A CHAIR NOT A CHAIR?; The catalogue/book from Urs Fischer’s show at the New Museum, Shovel in a Hole; Any issues of the French shelter publuications Maisons Cote Sud and Marie Clair Maison; Todd Seby’s book, The Selby is in Your House; design*sponge;  remodelista;  Picasso and Matisse and all of the artists that spent time in the south of France creating and enjoying.

4. Design*Sponge:How do you keep yourself organized? Time management is often one of the biggest obstacles for creative minds. Do you have an agenda book and do you make “to-do lists?” If so, would you mind taking a photo of both?

David:I use a calendar on outlook in my computer AND I keep pads and pads of hand written TO DO lists.

5. Design*Sponge:How do you combat creative blocks? What tools do you use to keep your creativity flowing?

David: We have an awful lot of group brainstorm sessions at David Stark Design which lead to the shining answer that initially alludes.  I also keep sketch books that are more like scrap books where I paste in tears from magazines, newspapers, brochures – things that I find that are cool.  They may not have any bearing on projects we are working on at the time of finding them, but later, a flip through those many images often inspires.

6. Design*Sponge: In addition to being an event-designer, planner, and author to name a few, what would you like to conquer next?

David: We are very excited to delve more into product design and our second holiday collection for west elm, David Stark for west elm will arrive in stores at the end of October. Perhaps in my spare time, I’d like to open a little shop that is filled with jewels that we and others make – beautiful, quirky, sculptural, fun stuff that will fill a home with personality.   The pop up flower shop of paper flowers and plants that we recently created for the launch of our new book was a little fantasy that is the tip of my iceberg.  The only catch?  In my head, the only place it could be is next to John Derian’s shops in the East Village.  It would be the perfect destination “strip mall.”  (wink!)

7. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration? This can be anything from bookstores, museums, certain parts of new york, flea markets, stores, etc.

David: I love hardware stores, Target, art supply stores, Michael’s Crafts (I beg them to open shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn – PLEASE!), CVS, Dollar Stores.  I am interested in the places where everyday people get everyday stuff.  I love the process of waving a magic wand over regular, commonplace things and creating art, the shamanism of art.

8. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsman, who would it be?

David: Yves Klein

9. Design*Sponge:If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it be?

David: I have become weirdly obsessed with artists who have done covers of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Often Billie Jean becomes a spring board to a medley of other cool songs.  Caetano Veloso does a gorgeous, soulful version.  Coldplay does a nice version.  The Roots does a fabulous version with Erykah Badu cooing on the background.Shinehead does a reggae version that seamlessly melds into Mama Used to Say. I would make a Billie Jean mixed tape, but I would exclude Jose Feliciano’s version.  That one creeps me out.

For more David Stark-inspired tools:

1. felissimo colored pencils (in honor of his 16,000 colored pencil project)[25 pencils per month for $33 USD]

2. gessoed canvas [$2.25-$62]

3. roy mcmakin’s when is a chair not a chair? [$40.95 on amazon]

4. ampad 4-pack legal writing pad[$14.55]

5. keep calm and carry on print [$25.00]

6. floral tape[$10.99]

7. recycled post-its [pack of 12, $15.99]

8. Yves Klein art book [$169.80]

  1. Lindsey says:

    Can David teach us how he makes those great paper flower arrangements?

  2. katelyn says:


  3. Tara says:

    Thanks again for this column. It is SO inspiring. I love the artists/creatives that you’ve highlighted. Really like this column a lot.(Second only to Sneak Peeks!)

  4. Andres says:

    David, there’s a Michael’s up on the UWS at 98th St. Live it up!

  5. Jess says:

    Ooh, does anyone know where to get that blackboard clock or something similar? Love it!

  6. I’m a handwritten notes kind of girl, too (in addition to using a laptop!). Probably the closest I’ll get to being David! Love his use of “found” objects!

  7. Renee says:

    David is awesome and full of inspiration!

  8. daviid stark says:

    Hi y’all.

    The clock can be gotten from the RISD works store in Providence, Rhode Island.

    And it would be my pleasure to show you how to make paper flowers someday soon!


  9. atieno says:

    Ohygoodness… i want those color pencils :)

  10. max says:

    Oh, I want this clock, it is great. I must try some DIY and create something like that.

  11. maggie says:

    Luv the clock, can make your day by what u say on it.

  12. Enjoyed your article and I also would like all those colored pencils…yum!

  13. Carly says:

    Argh! Does he have to be a fox as well? I loved him before, but now I know he’s hot… beautiful and talented men astound me.


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