Past & Present Book Event & Giveaway

by Amy Azzarito

It’s finally warm here in New York, and I’m so excited to celebrate spring and the publication of Past & Present by driving down to one of my very favorite places this weekend – Terrain in Philadelphia. If you’ve never been to Terrain, it’s worth the drive. It’s such a magical place. (Definitely make reservations for brunch!) We’re going to be making a project from the book. It’s one my favorites designed by the amazingly talented Caitlin Mociun, who was inspired by Native American trade blankets when she created this napkin ring project.

While researching all of the moments in decorative arts history for this book, I was continually reminded of my own personal design history memories. I remember stumbling across a book called Life in a Medieval Castle on my mom’s bookshelf. I was surprised to discover that rather than stories of fairy princesses and knights in shining armor, it was a book about how people actually lived in castles – what they ate, what they wore, what their furniture was like. It was the first moment that I discovered design history. I also have more personal, less historic memories of designing my teenage bedroom – mauve paint, floral wallpaper border, and a white iron daybed. Today, we’re giving away two copies of Past & Present. To enter, please share your first design memory – the first time you paid attention to interior decoration or the first bedspread you picked out or when you decided to decorate with your favorite color. . –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

Event: Past & Present: Native American Napkin Ring Workshop
Sunday, April 14
Time: 1am–3 pm
Location: Terrain/914 Baltimore Pike/Glen Mills, PA 19342
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: Tickets are $15 each. Please reserve your spot here if you’d like to attend.

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

Suggested For You


  • My first design memory (which led to my degree also in Decorative Arts and Material Culture, at BGC!) is my mom helping me carefully cutout to-scale pieces of paper of all the furniture in my bedroom so I could rearrange it before we started lugging furniture. I think I did this at least 4 times in my childhood. My parents even bought me interior design software when I was in middle school – to indulge me more!

  • My first memories of interior design revolve around my bedroom when I was 12 years old. The centerpiece of the space was the queen size waterbed (haha). I still remember the noise the bed made when I jumped into it. I wanted the walls painted a sage green, with sponge work, and I hung beads in the doorway. Overall, it was a hot mess, but I loved it and still remember the details of it. After having matured, and purchasing a home, I have decorated with much more informed design choices, most of which are DIY. The Past and Present book will only enhance and inspire me more!!

  • When I was in fifth grade I found a really expensive decorative pillow at an antique/gift shop that my family frequented. It was a simple quilted muslin square with a tic tac toe grid stitched across the front; in each stitched square a different antique button had been sewn. I thought it would be the perfect thing for my bed. It was the first time that I remember knowing that I could make something just like it myself. And I did, using special buttons, too – some from my great grandmother’s sewing box, a monogrammed one from an old suit of my dad’s. My first true DIY venture!

  • In fifth grade I started sketching room layouts to space plan my dream bedroom. Then I would color everything in with colored pencils. Guess it was a sign because I ended up studying interior design in college.

  • It’s kind of a hard to pin down / nebulous time starting when I was 11-12 or so when I wanted to start “styling” my room. Reeeeally influenced by my artist mother!

  • At the age of four, I found a large piece of blue and pink floral seersucker fabric in my mother’s stash. Using nearly every last bit of that fabric, along with scotch tape and a stapler, I made my very first collection of clothing and home goods. The two pieces I most clearly remember are a skirt and a tissue box cover. What a defining moment for me! If only I still had some of that lovely fabric…

  • I used to sneak into my older sister’s bedroom and rearrange the furniture in her large dollhouse. When I wanted to change the room colors, I cut out pieces of colored construction paper for new walls or rugs. I used kleenexes for fluffy bedspreads. I took fearless chances because I knew I only had a small window to have control over that house. In the life-size world, besides temporary forts (and rooms made up of pillow walls and sheet ceilings, we weren’t allowed to make big room changes–6 kids of chaos and lots of hand-me-downs meant my parents set some limits as to room redecorating.

  • When I was younger, I always filled up any spare piece of paper with designs. Fashion, interior, buildings- you name it. It’s something I still do today, and identify with myself, and has expanded to tattoos, and furniture- two passions of mine.

  • I recently left all the roommates behind and starting living by myself. I think this was the first time I really had to focus on what my design taste was. I had to grown into my own. I had to make all the decisions myself. I loved it! It was nice to have every little detail represent you. You didn’t have to compromise or make joint decisions. I’m 26 and I think I just learned what design really feels like.

  • My mom bought me an unfinished doll house when I was about 6, and I spent the next few years saving up for the furnishings, the wallpaper, the moldings, etc. 25 years later, the doll house is still unfinished in my parents’ basement–for me the fun was in the design, and not the execution!

  • We spent winter holidays at what I thought was the ultimate Christmas house: my grammaunt’s (literal great-aunt / virtual grandma), in a tiny rural hilltown in Mexico. The bottom half of the house was painted bright tealy-green, top half white, thick bright-red stripe in between. The doors were bright red and had playful brass numbers on them as though the house was a motel (which it never was) including half-fractions (wacky!). There was a big poinsettia bush the size of a tree in the front yard. Antlers and deer imagery were everywhere including a hat-rack made of deer hoofs.
    It eventually dawned on me that the “Christmas theme” was total coincidence.
    Red, white, green, and gold were just the colors of Mexico, deer the local fauna, and poinsettias virtually a weed. The extremity of the coincidence still makes me chuckle!

  • Growing up, I loved magazines and really started noticing design in advertisements around 6th grade. I became obsessed with cutting out every cool image and started a collage on my bedroom wall. Soon I started adding drawings, stickers, locker signs from school, concert tickets, etc. The collage grew and grew to become a wallpaper covering 1/2 of my bedroom, and I kept working on it even when I was home on break for college.

  • My first attempt at design was my half of a room shared with my sister when we were kids. My aesthetic is natural, organic, textural–think pine cones, buckeyes, antlers, feathers. My sis has more of a mid-century vintage aesthetic. It was an interesting room!

  • My father was an architect and painted the floors of the old (1788) house we bought when I was five. Their bedroom floor was red. Ours yellow. Living room heliotrope, dining room blue, and because those two rooms had no threshold between there was rectangle lap join of blue meets heliotrope in open doorway. He built a wall with a puce painted window frame for balcony overlooking the stairs.

  • I grew up in the same bedroom until I was 18, and my mom wouldn’t let me paint (it was white…believe me, I asked!), move pictures on the wall, or even pick my bedspread. So what did I do? Rearrange furniture! I must’ve moved my bed, dresser, desk around about 15 times while I was in high school, and it really gave me appreciation for how a room’s composition can really change how it feels.
    Now I try to have no white walls…and (surprise!) my childhood bedroom still looks almost the same…

  • We just got our first home 6 months ago & it’s definitely been an adventure! I’ve always been had hand me downs and ikea furniture before, but now I’m actually trying to have things tie together. Cutting out little graph paper furniture stuck on notebooks & lists are definitely involved. Things on Design Sponge are a constant inspiration and ya’ll make it look so easy!

  • I always wanted a purple room. I remember when my younger sister & I got our own rooms, I finally got my purple room! I chose a light purple with darker purple trims, I didn’t get the darker trim that I wanted because it but it turned out looking great and I still have my purple room today. :)

  • I always wanted a purple room. When my younger sister & I got our own room, I finally got my purple room! It was light purple with darker trims, not the trim colour I wanted but it turned out looking great and I still have my purple room today. :)

  • I have a very coordinated room when I was a kid in the 70s. Big floral with orange, yellow, green and white. Bright green painted furniture. I knew the carpet did not go with it at all — brown and gold shag — but there was nothing to do.

  • I left boarding school at 18 and had my first solo, non family trip overseas…to Japan. My eyes were opened to such beautiful design, seemingly simple but intricate and meaningful. I fell in love with a place, a style, a way of thinking.

  • Even if this has closed I still want to share mine! sorry I am late — I was one of those 8 yr olds who asked for a bedroom redesign over a barbie townhouse for my birthday present..my design was a mushroom pink candlewick bedspread, beige & chocolate brown velour throw cushions. Mushroom pink handmade fabric light shade ( made by mum) with long tassles and the same lampshade with a white marble base , a pinewood desk ( i still have the spindle back chair- now painted white) & bedside table with custom choc brown and pink flower handle, and of course textured wall paper in beige, choc brown & mushroom pink paneled flowers. 3o odd yrs later I can still remember the feel of each of those elements. I still give myself house make overs for birthday presents !

  • is this giveaway still open? if so…

    i remember helping pick out colors and a bedspread for the bedroom my twin sister and i shared growing up. we went through several color schemes over the years, but it was always so much fun to get to help choose how our room would look.

  • I can remember so vividly sailing in Maine and all of the sails had different nautical designs on them. It was a race as I recall (I was only like 8). I remember aferwards going into the gift shop in the town of Castine and fnding a book on all of the designs. That was it for me after then, design forever.

  • When I was in junior high, my sister moved off to college and I got her massive room. In an effort to make it my own, I wanted to paint the walls fire-engine red. For some reason, despite her better judgment, my mom let me. It took them forever to paint over it when I moved out!

  • I begged topaint my room in high school and was granted this request so long as I did it myself. I picked a fresh soft green called New Peas that I adored and still adore to this day. My dad took the opportunity to teach my how to paint the right way and it’s served me well ever since.

  • When I was about seven my mom bought me new curtains – pink with swiss dots and ruffles. I was in love! Before that I hadn’t thought much about the decor of my room, but after that I did!

  • I remember being the only kid in my family interested in the attic. It was dusty and unfinished and smelled like old wood and secrets. I made it into my secret hideaway, outfitted with blankets and pillows I snuck up form the rest of the house. I would decorate it with knickknacks and drawings and hung a few ropes with sheets to make “walls”. I thought it was the most beautiful place ever. Looking back at it now, it totally was.

  • My first memory was when I finally got my own room and I could choose my own wallpaper and curtains. I guess in my teen years, I was always a bit of a tomboy and into science, so I chose curtains filled with rockets. My ceiling also had clouds and glow in the dark planets! Although, I’ll never figure out why I decided to put a middle wallpaper panel filled with pictures of dogs :/

  • When I was a kid I painted a HUGE Daffy Duck on my bedroom wall, which I eventually replaced it with a NY Yankees logo. My first interior design choices. :-)

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