weekly wrap up

Past & Present Book Launch & Weekly Wrap Up

by Amy Azzarito

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 http://www.facebook.com/events/525028267519922 ). 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

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