Past & Present Book Launch & Weekly Wrap Up

Image above: Illustrated cover by Julia Rothman, with central motif taken from Shanna Murray’s decal project in the book. Book design by ALSO, Photograph by Max Tielman

Today of all days, the Internet went out in my apartment. So I’m writing from a coffee shop with butterflies in my stomach and the book right next to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous or so excited. I started working on this book in September 2010, so to say it’s been a bit of a process is an understatement. The idea for the book grew out of the column that I’ve been writing here on Design*Sponge since 2009. Over oysters and Bloody Marys (isn’t that how all great ideas are born?), Julia Rothman convinced me that it would make a great book and promised to illustrate the project. And I can’t thank the folks at STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books (particularly my editor, Liana Allday) enough for helping to turn that little idea into a reality.

For the book, I chose 24 of my favorite moments in decorative arts history and then challenged 24 working artists and designers to create a project inspired by that particular moment in time. (Just between you and me, I can’t believe they all said yes!) Todd Oldham worked on a Chinoiserie-inspired project, CONFETTISYSTEMS created a beautiful pinata/mobile inspired by Art Deco, Kim Krans of the Wild Unknown made a branch chandelier inspired by Art Nouveau. For each moment in history, I wrote an essay (illustrated by Julia) about the significance of that particular moment in time. The book is a celebration of design history, modern artists and designers and finding inspiration in the past. To kick off the book launch, West Elm is hosting a party on March 7 (details after the jump). If you’re in New York, I’d love to see you. xo, Amy

Past & Present: 24 Favorite Moments in Decorative Arts History and 24 Modern DIY Projects Inspired by Them will be in stores March 5. Preorder here.


When it came time to make a book trailer, there was only one person I wanted to work with, and I just crossed my fingers and hoped he would say yes. Ryan Marshall shot the book trailer for Design*Sponge at Home, and I had been a fan of his blog for a couple years before then. He brought a whole team (of Floridians!) to the table. JonPaul Douglass came to New York from Orlando to shoot the trailer. We spent a long cold February day traveling all over the city. I’m typically a little more comfortable off camera than in front of it, and he did a great job of making the day fun. Courtney Riot worked incredibly hard (and quickly!) on the graphics and animation. And I absolutely love the song, “Home” by Rabbit. (I’ve been playing the trailer just to hear the song.) Designers Colleen and Eric Whiteley and Nadia Yaron of Nightwood were astonishingly gracious to let me take up their busy day and bring a camera to their studios. I feel so lucky to have spent eight years working for the New York Public Library, and we gave them only a few hours’ notice that I would like to shoot the trailer in the Main Reading Room (where people were actually working!). They made it happen (and we tried to be very quiet)!

Below is a summary of this week’s highlights:

View the details for Amy’s book launch and a workshop to make a project from the book after the jump . . .

Image above: Emerson Fry made this Rococo-inspired flower wall hanging. The project will be on display at West Elm at the book launch event. (Please RSVP here!)

So to celebrate the book launch, West Elm is throwing a party for the book (RSVP for the book signing is ). There will be snacks, drinks and everyone’s favorite — Smilebooth! I’m also bringing some of the projects from the book, and they’ll be on display in the store.

Event: Past & Present Book Launch Party
Date: Thursday, March 7
Time: 6pm–8pm
Location: West Elm/1870 Broadway (62nd Street and Broadway)/New York, NY
Details: Come have a drink, see the projects featured in the book and play with the Smilebooth!
RSVP: Please RSVP here!

Image above: Photography by Ellen Silverman Photography, Prop Styling by Randi Brookman Harris

Image above: Caitlin Mociun was inspired by Native American trade blankets when she created this napkin ring project.

Event: Past & Present: Native American Napkin Ring Workshop
Date: Saturday, March 9
Time: 10am–11:30am
Location: West Elm Market/50 Washington Street/Brooklyn, NY 11201
Details: We will be making these Caitlin Mociun napkin rings (image above). Caitlin was inspired by the strong colors and geometric designs of Native American trade blankets.
RSVP: There are only 11 spots available. Tickets are $27.50 each and include all your supplies and a copy of Past & Present. Please reserve your spot here if you’d like to attend.

Image above: Photography by Ellen Silverman Photography, Prop Styling by Randi Brookman Harris

  1. Lauren says:

    How exciting to see all your hard work in print! Congrats!

  2. Michelle says:

    I can’t wait to read this book – you’ve hit on two of my weaknesses: design history and putting a contemporary twist on historical ideas. Congratulations!

  3. Catherine says:

    What a delight (Amy, the book and the video)! I’m pre-ordering today!

  4. Michelle says:

    Congratulations Amy! I can’t wait to pick up a copy.

  5. Way to go Amy! What an achievement!! Such a clever way to mix history with DIY with modern spaces!

  6. Alice says:

    Congratulations! This is exciting :) The books sounds great, looks nice, I plan on buying it :)

  7. Sarah says:

    Congratulations, Amy. The cover is BEAUTIFUL! I can’t wait to read it for myself.

  8. Norma says:

    Congratulations, Amy! I will be buying your book. I am so happy for you!

  9. Jody says:

    Congratulations! What a lovely and inspiring book trailer. Can’t wait to get a copy!

  10. Luli says:

    Wow, this book is right up my alley. Congratulations. Also, I can’t wait to buy it. Makes me giddy just thinking about it.

  11. Bonnie says:

    That rope shower curtain made me laugh with happiness.

  12. Nia Bassett says:

    Your video is really cute!

  13. kim says:


  14. Jill Simpson says:

    It looks amazing, and I can’t wait to read it. I’ve already pre-ordered it! Congratulations on a beautiful job!

  15. Lisa says:

    This is wonderful, books are wonderful!

  16. I just review your every single blog post related design work..and it was awesome..will be back to read this blog soon.

  17. Congrats, book looks great, great gift idea.

  18. Betsey says:

    Congratulations – Looks like a wonderful book

  19. Congrats Amy! We can’t wait to browse through it. A great accomplishment :)

  20. pippa says:

    Congratulations! The book looks great: informative and inspiring. :-)

  21. Susan says:

    Congrats Amy…so excited for this!

  22. Sarah says:

    I’m getting this as a birthday gift to myself, I can’t wait to crack that spine!

  23. Dana says:

    I am super-excited that you wrote a BOOK!!!!!!!!!! Good for you! I can’t wait to get a copy, and I will pre-order as soon as I get paid.

  24. Jonpaul says:

    Looks great Amy!

  25. Uncle Beefy says:

    How wonderful and exciting!!! Congratulations and can’t wait to see this baby in print!

  26. Ashley Johnson says:

    Hi Amy,

    Just wanted to say that I finally got my hands on my pre-ordered copy and I LOVE your book. It is absolutely wonderful. I cannot get enough of it, I am already wishing it was longer. It is evident that you put your heart and soul into it, you should be extremely proud. Now you just have to do a book tour so I can get your signature in this beauty.

    Thanks so much Amy :)

    1. Amy Azzarito says:

      Hi Ashely – Thank you so much! It really means a lot to hear that people are enjoying it! I’m so excited to have it out in the world. :) xo Amy

  27. Alyssa says:

    Hi Amy,

    First, congratulations on the book! It must be surreal for you now that it’s out! I got it today and the first thing I did was start on the emersonmade flower. You are probably already aware, but if not it seems a diagram is missing for the petal placement. It says it should be on page 128 but I don’t see it anywhere in the template section. Will it be available online at some point? Amy Atlas put the templates online for her book (with a password… the first word on one of the pages)… will something similar be done for this as well?

    Thank You!


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