amy azzaritomiscellaneous

very special news: welcome to the team, amy!

by Amy Azzarito

This morning I wanted to take a moment to share some news that means more to me than I can truly put into words. After a year of planning and preparing, Amy Azzarito is joining Aaron and me at Design*Sponge as our first full-time team member. Before I move on to the next sentence I should explain that between that last sentence and this one I took a full minute to stop and smile- this news means so much to me and to the future of Design*Sponge that I can just barely contain my excitement- and some happy tears.

For the past six years I’ve been the only full-time editorial team member at D*S. As much as I loved working on the site, each year I found myself saying “I think I’m going to close the site this year. I just don’t know what I want to do.” Everyone I told thought I was crazy (or lying), but after all those years of working alone at home I had lost some of my passion and direction. I still loved Design*Sponge, our readers and our team of contributors just as much as I always had, but something inside me hadn’t quite clicked in terms of seeing what the real future of the site was.

But that started to change after I worked with Amy on the Design By The Book video series. Amy was working at the New York Public Library and working with her and the team there was, to this day, one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had. Working on videos, imagining new projects- it seemed like creative doors were starting to open that I hadn’t even imagined.

Over the course of the next year Amy joined us as a freelancer at Design*Sponge and quickly went above and beyond her duties with Past & Present to help me brainstorm and imagine all the fun things Design*Sponge could be in the future. It was all those excited conversations about D*S books, videos and events that really made me see the future of the site and re-discover my passion for things. It became clear early on that Amy would play a big role in the future of the site and I started planning (and saving) so we could offer her a full-time job.

This week is Amy’s first week working with us full-time and we’ve already hit the ground running. What does this mean for those of you reading? It means that things around here are about to get exciting! Our first big project together is doing a site-wide audit of the content we run everyday to make sure that each column and every post is the best it possibly can be. D*S has grown so much over the past year and we want to spend the next few months making sure that we take all your comments, emails and suggestions into effect to improve and strengthen everything we publish here. So stay tuned for improvements on some of your favorites and a few new additions along the way. This year is really about focusing on quality for us and making sure that every word and picture is the best it can be.

In addition, Amy and I are finishing up the D*S site redesign along with our tech gurus and will be launching that at the same time as the D*S Book pre-sale announcement. We have some AMAZING ideas (I can’t wait to tell you guys!!) and contests to launch in conjunction with both things later this spring (look for both towards the end of April). We’re also going to be planning a series of crafting/making events for this spring/summer so stay tuned for dates and information on those soon.

Having an extra set of (super talented) hands on board is going to mean we have more time to really enjoy and expand what we do here at D*S. So stay tuned for lots of fun this year! So….Welcome to the team, Amy!

And from Aaron, Amy and myself- thank you to everyone reading. Without you we wouldn’t get to wake up and do what we love every day and we’re so thankful for your support. The three of us are going to do everything we can to make sure D*S is the best it can be. xo, grace

*The images above are from our surprise team dinner last night at Per Se. We told Amy we wanted to take her out to celebrate but didn’t tell her where until we walked around the corner from the entrance. It was such an amazing night of food, ideas and celebration. Thank you to everyone at Per Se for making Amy’s special menu and for letting us peek inside the kitchen. It was truly a night we’ll always remember.

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  • Whoo!!!! Amy is truly an amazing gal and I can’t wait to see what great ideas you two will think up next. Huge congrats to all! xoxoxo

  • Congrats! As an avid reader of D*S, I was actually wondering in the past few days what was going to be coming down the pipeline, and if a bit of the rhythm and process I always saw lacking in other sites would continue and even evolve. I’m ecstatic to see that the wonderful people here are facilitating just that. It’s also refreshing to hear about those internal struggles of’ what is the next step, where is this passion taking me’? Often on blogs or sites with design elements you miss that connection to the personal, the connection to the examined life, but it was heartening and truthful to hear it here. A usually silent reader (me!) is happy for the growing team at D*S. And I’ll be leaving my home page right here.

  • Congrats ladies!!! I was a sole business owner for a year and a half and know how hard it can be to work by yourself day in and day out. It’s wonderful to have someone to brainstorm with!

  • The enthusiasm here is melting my heart! Congratulations Amy, Grace and Aaron. I can’t wait to see everything that comes out of this.

  • congratulations! this is very exciting! And, btw – don’t you dare ever shut down D*S… your posts get me through the day :)

  • What a wonderful next step! Congratulations for being so dedicated to continuing the great inspiration that d*s has always been and all that is yet to be!
    We can’t wait to see!!!

  • Great addition to the team!

    Is that the first table as you walk in by the window? If so, that’s where we sat on our visit! We’ll be up in March and hope to go again. So great!

    • Kate

      It’s the second table, but the view is so wonderful everywhere. That restaurant is like heaven on earth for me. And perfect for extra extra special occasions.

      Grace :)

  • Very exciting news! Well deserved for all of you. I can’t wait for the book! Will you be making a book tour stop in Toronto?

  • Congratulations, Amy! D*S has been such a wonderful source of inspiration, and I know that it will only expand with Amy on board full-time. I’ve always loved her posts!

  • Congratulations.
    D*S has been my companion with my morning coffee for a few years now, and I glad to know it is growing in a fascinating direction.
    The inspirations never cease to start my day just right.
    Thanks ladies.

  • Congratualtions to DS and I can feel the excitement in your words Grace!!!! I can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for us….

  • Congratulations to you all! This site has been such an inspiration to me and I’m so happy that it will continue to grow and evolve with the expanding team.

  • Congratulations! This is such exciting news – I’m really looking forward to seeing all the new D*S delights you’re planning!

  • Congratulations! I also appreciate your candid thoughts on running D*S as a one woman show. For those of us still working for “the man” the grass always seems greener for those self employed, but it’s refreshing to know that we all have our uphill battles, both professionally and creatively.

    I’m so happy to see all the exciting things the D*S team has in store!!

  • I absolutely can’t wait for the crafting sessions to begin! Not that I’m anywhere near you but…if you need some hands out here in Houston, I’m all yours!!

  • Amy is the best! I should know, she’s been my best-est at NYPL for the past 7 1/2 years. Congrats to Amy and to D*S!

  • Congratulations, this is great news! Good luck with all of the changes and we can’t wait to see what’s coming up next. Cheers to all of your hard work and great(!) leadership within the design community!

  • Thank you Grace for sharing your great news, and daily Design*Sponge inspirations! I’m a HUGE fan of yours and am inspired to keep pushing the creative envelope!

  • Wow, this is exciting news. Congrats to you and your new team member. So happy to see you blossoming into a beautiful dream come true. Can’t wait to see what comes next.

  • This site has been an endless source of inspiration for me and I’m so glad to hear it’s only going to get better!

  • Great News! Glad that this will re-energize you Grace! Email, Facebook, Design*Sponge – that’s my morning (and then my afternoon) …

  • Congratulations! I can’t wait to see what’s next, though I honestly can’t imagine this blog being better than it already is! I am so excited for all of you and look forward to all of the next steps!

  • Grace, thank you so much for your honesty about your challenges to maintain (and sustain) excitement, passion and drive within your work. It is really refreshing to hear such candidness. I am so happy Amy can join you this year! Cheers to fresh ideas, inspiration and renewed excitement!

  • Congratulations on growing your team, Grace! I’m really looking forward to seeing everything that’s in the works.

  • as someone who works in a very small operation to provide content to the masses, wearing a million different hats, i truly understand and appreciate what this means for you. congratulations! you’ve earned it!! so excited for you and and excited to see what lies ahead for D*S!

  • Congratulations Amy and, of course, Grace. I love D*S. I read it every day and love your ideas and creativity. It’s hard to imagine it could be even better, but I’m sure the sky’s the limit.

  • Congratulations Amy – and Grace as well – for the wonderful addition to your full-time team. I’m so excited to see what will be coming next for Design*Sponge!!

  • Congrats and well done! yes it is great to put together ideas and energy ! I had the chance to participate at one of the video ( cooking on with David Leibowitz) and it s nice to see some news every week.
    Impatient to see the book too!!
    Keep going, 2011 is gonna be is great year.

  • Congratulations everyone! Even with the millions of websites out there, D*S is still my first and most anticipated stop every single morning (sorry NYTimes). Looking forward to the next chapter!

  • Congrats on expanding the dream! As a daily reader of DS I am so happy to see the growth and evolution of one of my favorite sites. Yay!

  • Congratulations, all around! I read D*S every day and always look forward to it. So glad you decided not to close the site. And now you have an awesome new team member, new ideas, and a renewed spirit! How exciting and I look forward to continue reading and getting inspired every day!

  • Such wonderful news! This is the best all-encompassing site for design, art, travel….a visual treasure box. All the best for your future plans. I know this site will continue to shine!

  • Congratulations fro the new addition to the team, I know what it means to be the only one pushing forward, i am glad you have found someone so talented, I myself just stated to work with someone who would be doing the PR & Marketing for chocolate creative, and I can not be more excited about it!!
    Looking forward to the new changes and good luck with all your projects.

  • This really warms my heart. Such a big deal in the evolution of our beloved D*S!

    I know what you mean about burning out — brainstorming with smart, big-hearted, big-thinking, like-minded people changes everything. And working with them everyday is even better! Congrats to all of you. Onwards and upwards!

  • Welcome Amy and congrats! I absolutely love D*S, keeps me going and gives me a pick up at lunch! Can’t wait to see all the new things you guys come up with! :)

  • congrats grace on the big transition!! i know how much you’ve been working towards this and so proud of you! so happy to see amy as a full-time d*s staffer! xo guys! joy

  • This is, and probably will always be, my absolute favorite website. I check D*S before I even check my gmail in the morning. I’m glad you didn’t call it quits, and so glad Amy has been able to keep you inspired and excited about the future of the site. I CAN’T WAIT to see what is to come!! Thank you for all you do, D*S team. You really are the best. :)

  • Congrats Amy! And I’m so glad you’ve found your renewed sense of purpose, Grace! If this site went away, my small world would be much darker! I kid you not! Haha. Too many exclamation points, but sometimes that happens. Congrats all!!

  • It’s so hard to put into words how much this blog means to me! I know it’s cheesy to say, because I’ve never met Grace, I never will, or Amy, I’m not familiar with a lot of the design elements to the blog, I’m not a designer or an artist, but I know that this site has helped me find myself. Not in the soul-searching way, but it taught me that I want to surround myself with things that I think are beautiful, and that if I can see that simple beauty in my own home, I can take it outside of the house too. This site first showed me houses don’t have to be frumpy and formal. They don’t have to be matchy-matchy or rigidly modern. They can be totally and deliciously YOU, unique and comforting at the same time. I have checked D*S everyday for the last two years, and I am SO excited to know that there is a very bright future in store.

    • Kate

      Thank you so much for your comment. Amy and I were both overcome with gratitude for your kind words. I’m sending you an email as well, but I just wanted to say thank you again here everything you said. Your words mean the world to me and are the reason I get up and do what I do every morning. Thank you so much,


  • Congratulations Design Sponge Trio!! I have some great design friends in my life and know how great it feels to surround yourself with people who love to dream big and plan for amazing expansions and opportunities. It brings and wonderful energy to your life.

    Looking forward to the future at D*S!

  • Hi everyone!
    It was so lovely to spend all day watching these comments come in both from people I know and love personally and from so many of you whom I have yet to meet in person but are certainly my kindred spirits in all things design (and probably otherwise).

    I started reading design*sponge in 2004 as a way to escape from reality so it’s a little unbelievable to be joining the team, and it is such a privilege to work with both Aaron (whom for years, I only knew of as AC) and Grace. I feel very lucky!

    Thank you all so much for such a very warm and enthusiastic welcome.

  • Congratulations to all three of you. It’s it lovely how good souls continue to join you on the journey, add to what you’ve started and help you reach new heights. So exciting.

  • This is the most wonderful news. Grace, as I read all of your posts and excitement about design and the world overall, I relate to you in so many ways. Reading this post brought me to the most honest point of my design*sponge following. It’s wonderful to find an online world that is honest and so…I don’t know…creatively trusting? Even though I can’t find the words, this site is a huge contributor to my confidence moving towards freelance. I LOVE the world of art, and I can only hope to share it with as many people as you are blessed to share it with everyday. Thank you for the boost–I’m sure it’s easy to forget how much your work at design*sponge is affecting the world around you. In my world, you’ve given me the biggest nudge yet. Thank you :)


  • The thing I love most about d*s is that it feels so personal. All the contributers are so thoughtful, creative and approachable–I love how you share little aspects of your lives. And I think Grace and AC are absolutely adorable.

    Welcome to the team, Amy.

  • Grace and Amy: So happy for you. And so happy for us! Design*Sponge was the very first blog I ever started reading regularly (and where I got my first cable-knit porcelain crush–no small thing), and like everyone else here, I can’t wait to see where you take it!

  • Holy wow, hooray for d*s! I’ve been reading for (holy crap) six years – seriously, I’ve only missed a handful of posts in SIX YEARS, and I love how far you’ve come!

  • congratulations to the whole d*s team! i’m looking forward to more to come and thank you for all the inspiration and creativity you’ve shared with me (and everyone!) over the years. here’s the the future :)

  • Congratulations! Design*Sponge was one of the very first blogs I ever discovered, and I am so excited to see where the future will take the site. I’ve always loved the way D*S possesses this wonderfully encouraging element, demonstrating that heck YES you can fill your house with things you love and make it look awesome as well. I’ve learned so much about design, and D*S really nurtured my interest and passion for the subject.

    Welcome, Amy! You have always put together some seriously rockstar posts, and I can’t wait to see more from you! :)

  • I’m proud to say it: I’ve read this blog since its inception! How happy am I to have read of your growth, successes, and recognition along the way (not to mention the caliber of content that keeps us all poised for our morning emails!)


    Here’s to many more exciting years of fantastic collaboration and modern taste-making.

    Thanks for it all, Grace!

  • Many congratulations to you—Amy, Grace and Aaron. I’m especially touched by this post because not only is it inspiring to hear how you are growing D*S (and the talent and energy Amy brings) but because it is genuine, honest and transparent tale of your business. I think that’s what connects me most to D*S. Grace, you and your guest bloggers sound real and genuine and aren’t just regurgitating what’s popular. It’s a testament that we can all be successful in living our dreams when we are authentic with ourselves and others… and (maybe most importantly) when we ask for help when we’re ‘stuck’. All the best to you all. I can feel your happiness from Denmark! smiles *a

    • Angie

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. I’ve backed off being quite so personal for a while primarily because I’ve felt uninspired and like I’d lost some focus, but it was really helpful to share that yesterday. I think a lot of people hit the same sorts of walls and hearing everyone’s stories of feeling a little lost was incredibly moving and supportive. Thanks again for your comment and readership :)


  • Congratulations D*S!! I know I’m not the first to say that but I just have to get in on your celebration. Your blog is the first one I read every morning while having my coffee. I am not a designer but I’m definitely passionate about design. Your blog keeps me connected to others just like me and I would miss it so much. I’m so glad you found your happy thoughts and can’t wait to see what you have in store for your loyal readers. Cheers!

  • Congratulations design*sponge team. This website means a lot to me, and it is an essential part of my day. In fact, I would give up my coffee before I would give up this inspiring website, and I love coffee! Glad to hear you are doing what you need to do to stay inspired and and congrats again for hiring such a talented collaborator.

    • Thank you, Amy. As someone who’s desperately clinging to a cup of coffee for survival right now, I take that as the highest compliment ;)


  • Congrats to all three of you. The Design by the Book feature so inspired me that I tried to implement a similar idea in our small town (so far unsuccessful due to funding, but always hopeful!). So many of us understand the difficulties of working on your own. It’s amazing how much one plus one truly does equal more than two and I am so looking forward to see what happens with your combined creative energy.

  • agreed with angie and amy. I too look forward to my mornings with D*S and that is alot of pressure for a one woman show! But I too find this post particularily refreshingly honest. I am a retailer and go through those same emotions about 4 times a year (be doing this since ’93) and in a smaller town we are the shoppe that everyone looks to for their inspiration….. we are an oasis for the people who frequent out shop. as D*S is for all of your readers. Sooo…. CONGRATULATIONS and good luck in your new chapter and enjoy.

  • Congrats to all of you! I’m a bit of a lurker here, and have been for, oh, 6 years now… its been amazing to watch you grow and change. I never get sick of this blog, and I will admit it is the ONLY one that I don’t get sick of, and thats because you work so hard at staying fresh.

  • I have enjoyed and relished your posts since I first started reading. I am so happy that you have found new inspiration and a collaborative partner to ignite your fire. It is so hard to find. Everyone loses their spark now and again, but please don’t ever, ever shut down this site!

  • You can never close down this site! it is the only thing that keeps me alive at my finance job. One day i hope to make a move to do something as spectacular as you have in creating this site!

  • Congratulations. As someone who has owned a small business before and ran it on my own I know the trials and endlessness of it all. I always wanted a partner. Someone who was as passionate about it as me and could help attend to all the little nit picky details that I would see before me everyday. I congratulate you both on your great fortune to have found one another. May you have an awesome and creatively abundant time together.

  • Kudos! Love! Fabulosity! I’m beaming reading this – can’t imagine how it feels for you both! I’m so grateful for this site, as it is a delicious mix of the eclectic and sublime and is a well-deserved treat during my morning tea break. Just delighted that more good things are ahead. Love from Scotland!

  • As an kitchen and bath designer I have found your site to be very useful in my business. It’s my go-to site to see emerging trends and resources and I appreciate the business advice. I like how you keep things fresh with different posts…never stop growing! Thank you Design Sponge and congrats! Will you be coming to Minneapolis for your book tour?

  • I’m always inspired by D*S posts and now I’m moved by the sense of community here. Congratulations on your new direction. I look forward to us all growing and creating together!

  • Congrats to Amy, and to the spongekeeters! (I was trying to think of a group that had three members a la the Musketeers, but somehow that just didn’t work as well as I wanted).

    I was also happy to see Amy (as well as Jessica Pigza) in Marilyn Johnson’s account of the “design by the book” series in her great “This Book is Overdue!” but I was heartily disappointed that she didn’t credit design*sponge’s involvement in the project.

    I am excited as a devoted reader that having Amy with Grace and Aaron full time will lead to more inspiring projects like that one. Cheers!

  • Dear Design Sponge Team, dear Grace, AC and Amy, I am so very happy for you- congratulations .Here is to a bright an fantastic future for all of you.I think what you do is great and fabulous and I love your site – so I am so very happy for you all.Looks like you had a lovely evening ! Proost, Prosit and Chin chin to all of you from a cold and dark England.

  • The reason D*S is the only blog I check daily is because it is REAL. Real homes, real DIY inspiration, real people, really brilliant.

    Grace – hearing about your struggles over the years was so refreshing. Sharing your private doubts about D*S is a comfort to us fellow freelancers/creatives (and everyone else too) who harbor the same doubts about our own paths. Thanks for being so open. I’m so very happy for your success.

    Amy – congratulations! Please continue to kick ass.

  • Congratulations Amy! I am so stoked to see what the D*S team has planned for us avid readers in the future! The Design By The Book video project with the NY Public Library was one of my all-time faves. Everything is looking bright and shiny!

  • Immediately before reading this post I emailed DS to a friend with a note saying you’d had an especially creative week…and then I read that you’ve just added power and time and someone else who can collect and bring inspiration to us. Congratulations on growing in such a smart and strategic way.

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