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Essay

15 Years: Farewell and Thank You

by Grace Bonney

Our 2019 Design*Sponge team: Sofia Tuovinen, Garret Fleming, Kristina Gill, Caitlin Kelch, Grace Bonney, Kelli Kehler, Lauren Day and Erin Austen Abbott. 

It’s been said that if you love something, you have to let it go. And, dear friends, it is time for us to let Design*Sponge go. It’s time for us to close this wild and wonderful chapter and head out into the great unknown. While we are sad to say goodbye to the friends, colleagues, and community that we’ve found here, we know that we are stepping into this next chapter filled with the love, support, and care you’ve so graciously shared with us over the past 15 years.

Design*Sponge began as one girl behind a screen, and has grown into a beautiful, diverse, and ever-expanding network of friends, collaborators, confidants, and support systems. You’ve taught us all how to be better listeners, better sharers, better members of our community and, most importantly, you’ve taught us that what makes a community special are the people in it.

I know I speak for all of us at Design*Sponge when I say we are leaving here today with nothing but gratitude for what we have all experienced here. You’ve allowed us to share thousands of stories, homes, personal moments, and lessons that have not just expanded our minds, but our hearts and our understanding of the world as well. Your support has given us the courage to dream big, take risks, and push ourselves harder and further than we knew we could.

From day one, all of you have been so much more than readers of a blog. You’ve become our friends, our co-workers, our support systems, and our family. We’ve traveled across the world these past 15 years and have had the honor and joy of getting to know so many of you in person. Thank you for not only reading Design*Sponge online, but for letting us get to know you in real life, too. You’ve shared memories and stories of your highest highs and lowest lows and we’ve been able to support each other in those moments in real and meaningful ways.

Like any community, I know we haven’t always met the expectations we’ve set out to, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us the grace and understanding to do better when we needed to and to pick ourselves back up when we’ve fallen. Your dedication, support, and honesty have allowed this site to become something different and something more than a collection of beautiful pictures — you’ve turned it into a real home. A home that has pretty, glossy parts, but also worn-in, loved-on parts that are familiar and make us feel welcome.

I am so grateful to have had the privilege to steer this small but mighty ship. It has been the greatest honor of my life so far to work among a team of people who are so unendingly dedicated to learning, growing, and sharing stories that remind us that design is about much more than the things we put in our houses — it’s about the people, the challenges, and the defining moments that turn those houses into homes.

To my team, thank you. You have shown me great patience, trust, and support. I hope I have done my best to show you how much I appreciate and value that generous gift. While our work together here is done, I know we will continue to connect and overlap in each other’s next chapters. And I hope you all know that I will always be here for each and every one of you, always. You have all been such dedicated and caring writers, but more importantly, you’ve been exceptional human beings. And it’s an honor to know each of you and call you my friend. Thank you for making Design*Sponge what it is and will always be: a place for friends to meet, connect, and learn from each other.

To our community, thank you. Your creativity, exuberance, diversity, energy, and talent have been our driving force since day one. What you all do is beyond words. You are artists, designers, makers, innovators, dreamers, and doers. And I am forever grateful that you all exist in our world. You have inspired me to do better, work harder, and grow at every step of the journey and Design*Sponge would not exist without the beauty and honesty you bring into the world every day. Thank you. Not just for inspiring Design*Sponge from day one, but for continuing to remind us that design is so much more than things, it’s about people and connections and building something meaningful.

Earlier this month we gathered outside of Philadelphia to celebrate 15 years of Design*Sponge with our friends at Terrain. They have so kindly supported us since the early days and they generously offered to throw us a farewell party to mark this bittersweet occasion. It was an evening full of love, hugs, tears, and reminiscing that I am forever grateful for. I am also grateful to Ian Fursa who filmed our farewell party and created a short 5-minute film reflecting on the history of Design*Sponge and what it has meant to all of us to work on this project together. The final result is a love letter to this site, our community, our team, and the memories we’ve shared together. I hope you’ll watch and join us in one last moment of reflection, love, and gratitude.

Thank you for letting us live out so many of our dreams here these past fifteen years. There will never be enough words to express the depth and sincerity of my gratitude for all that you have given us and all the love you have shown us. I promise that as we all move forward, we will honor that love you’ve shown us by continuing to pay it forward in all that we do.

Forever grateful and always here—

Love,
Grace

Some important housekeeping notes:  Design*Sponge will remain online as an archive through September of 2020, thanks to generous support from Adam J. Kurtz and Tuesday Bassen. We are so grateful for their love and commitment to keeping the site online through next fall, when something very special will happen…

We’re thrilled to announce that our full archives will be available online (and fully searchable) through the Library of Congress, starting in September of 2020. We will provide an updated link to those archives once they are open to the public. We are so honored that they believed that a record of our work together here, and the community represented in these posts, should be preserved online permanently.

Also, I will continue to remain active on our Instagram account and out in the world. So stop by and say hi! Don’t forget you can follow our entire team and get more ideas for inspiring people to connect with online here.

 

Photographs by Erin Austen Abbott and Sofia Tuovinen

Scenes from our final team retreat in Brooklyn

The beautiful farewell party that Terrain threw for our community. 

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Comments

  • Design Sponge will always have a special place in my heart. One morning (many years ago) I was reading a DS post about an artist named Graham and realized that was the perfect name for my soon-to-born son. Thank you, Grace & team, for inspiration and pushing the design community forward.

  • Thank you for this beautiful, wonderful place you all have created + so much love as you all take your next steps. It’s been a privilege.

  • Walking around my home, I see the influence of design*sponge in so many corners. Here’s to a new chapter for all of us.

  • Thank you Grace and all the team! You have shown me so much love and support since I began my creative career in 2010. I know you have helped so many of us creatives around the world, by sharing our stories here, educating us through your interviews and business guides, giving us shout outs and helping us build our communities online on instagram and elsewhere. I will miss you!

    THANK YOU!! And I wish you all so much luck for the new part of the adventure.

    Lots of love,
    Ruth

  • All the love and magic. Thank you for everything you’ve given to the community for the last 15 years. Forever grateful. It’s been an honor and a privilege.

  • Grace, this brings tears to my eyes. It’s the end of an era that you paved the way for, for me and for so many others. I will be eternally grateful for your generous spirit when I was just getting started way back in 2006, and to your dad for introducing us on flickr! I wish you all the best in the world and can’t wait to see what you do next!! Even if it’s just pickling in the countryside with Julia, you go, go, go girl. Lots of love, Victoria xx

  • Thank you Grace, and all your team, for all you’ve give me/us over the years – your work, your care, your love, it’s been a wonderful start to each day. With only the best of wishes for whatever adventure is next! xoxo

  • It’s been so simple to follow you, as a creative person, and get [amazing!] inspiration from images and interviews. But I never thought it would be the vulnerable moments of honesty, truth, sadness and sheer joy that would make this site so influential to me.
    Thank you for those subtle and not so subtle moments that opened my eyes, my real inside eyes, to the world. I will truly miss the daily gifts you all gave, and wish you profound days ahead.
    XL

  • Grace and team – thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you’ve given us. So much inspiration, so many new perspectives and a sense of community that extends so much further and longer beyond the days you first kindled them. I started reading (and drooling) over 10 years ago and having my artwork featured way back when still remains one of my proudest moments as a creative. This platform, and especially Grace, your unabashed honesty when sharing your journey, has encouraged and challenged me and certainly made life a lot more beautiful. Means more than words can say. Thank you and much love!

  • Just wanted to say thank you for all the wonderful posts over the years. Been a reader pretty much since the beginning, and Design Sponge is one of the sites I visit every day (even on weekends, when I forget that you don’t post and I feel dumb, lol). I will miss it, but, again, I’m very grateful for you and your team. Best wishes for whatever is next.

  • I started reading D*S about 10 years ago when I was studying design in school. Always dreamed about being featured in a Sneak Peek :) thanks for all the inspiration!

  • Thank you for everything Grace – I can’t wait to see what’s next for you.

  • Boo hoo… Thank you, Grace & D*S* team for all you’ve given us over the last 15 years! You were the first home design blog I ever visited and I have been hooked ever since.

    What I have loved the most about D*S* is your positivity and how you’ve inspired that in your commenters also; your thoughtful essays that take the deep dive into what home means; and your celebration of diversity in design.

    Here’s hoping that you and your team will have sparkling futures and that you will spread that special D*S* sauce far & wide in your new endeavors!

  • Much love, Grace. Thanks for making the world a more beautiful and thoughtful place.

    Sending good energy for whatever lies ahead!

  • When we purchased our 1929 Spanish Colonial 5 years ago we dreamed of becoming a Design Sponge worthy home. Though we didn’t officially make it on your site we attempted to curate our home keeping your philosophy in mind. Thank you for all the inspiration you’ve given us. All the best.

  • You were the only design blog I read regularly, from over here in France. And you will be missed. I wrote to you once and you responded, Grace. That means a lot. I will keep checking your insta and buy your wife’s cookbook. Xx

  • Thank you all so much! You have made an impact not only on how my home looks, but on how I and my family live in it, what is important to us, what we prioritize and appreciate. You gave me the courage to be honest about who I am in my space and that allows me to be stronger out there in the world.
    Best of luck in all your next beginnings!

  • Over the course of a decade, I’ve decorated, baked and traveled with Design*Sponge as inspiration. Coming from a quantitative career, I was sorely in need of a creative spark. You and your team lit the flame. I will keep it burning in your honor. May your days and years continue to be fruitful.

  • MUCHOS EXITOS en vuestras nuevas etapas!! una seguidora desde España os echara de menos…

  • Just wanted to let you know that you are loved by a reader all the way from Sunny Singapore. I’ve been reading D*S since I was a student, and now I’ve become a teacher. Will miss D*S dearly, no one writes about design as deeply and sincerely as you guys. Wishing all the best for everyone. Thank you for the good memories.

  • oh man will i miss design sponge. the saying “if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well” comes to mind. the work that you all have done to include EVERYONE has had the most beautiful impact and will echo and ripple for ages to come. thank you from the bottom of my heart. you could have propped up the same trite ideas and work, but you sought out the inspired but often hidden. your integrity and inclusion will not be forgotten!

  • Grace, I send my best wishes and a huge thank you to you and the entire Design*Sponge team! I have always loved coming here to see things beautiful and read things important: the essays are always my favorite, and I’ve gotten to know so many great makers and designers thanks to you! I’ve also purchased a number of cherished art and home goods I first learned about here.

    I especially have enjoyed how the site has evolved over the years. The pieces that have encouraged me the most were the interviews with Roe and E on real-life minimalism and the one with Rebekah Taussig on the intersection of disability and design. I enjoyed hearing your podcasts and attending two events in DC celebrating In the Company of Woman/Good Company. Seeing the site evolve and your own life progress has also been a treat: as a fellow queer woman, seeing you and Julia together and reading about your shared life warms my heart!

    I recently made a huge life change in terms of taking a sabbatical from my career and moving from the Virginia to Buenos Aires: it was a big leap done in many little steps. I found anticipating and preparing for the change was much harder than actually living in the moment once it actually happened. I hope you feel the same way on your journey! Life isn’t easy or perfect but it sure can be wonderful. I can’t wait to see what you and your team do next! Again, thank you for providing a beautiful platform for the exchange of ideas and also setting a wonderful example of being an inspirational woman business creative. <3

  • Goodbye and good luck Team Design Sponge. Yours is one of the few blogs I have continued to follow over the last few years. You will be missed!

  • I found Design*Sponge 15 years ago when I was looking for some guidance for redesigning my rather dank rented apartment in Texas. Not only did you respond personally to my questions, Grace, but you were – true to your name – gracious, patient, and kind when the internet was becoming increasingly impersonal and more about polish than heart. I was so excited every Monday morning to start my new week with Design*Sponge. In 2008, I was so sad to leave Texas but I was heartened to learn that there were so many home tours, city guides, and before and afters in my new city of Cleveland. That was what really hooked me: you weren’t just profiling New York and LA. You focused on all of us – from the Rust Belt to the plains and everything (and everyone and every gender, ability, and race) in between. Thank you so much. You are going to have an amazing next adventure. Cannot wait to see what the future holds for you. Much love from Cleveland, Kathryn

  • Grace and team, nearly 15 years ago my father passed away unexpectedly. I quit my job as an assistant professor in NY and moved back home to Pittsburgh to be close to my family during such a difficult time. Along with the ladies of 3191, Design Sponge helped me out of what I can now see was depression. I was in between jobs, living at home with my mom and my grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in with my life. With the help of meds, a job counselor, the support of friends and family, and by being inspired by art, design, and all things creative, I went back to school to become an art teacher. I know I was introduced to so many wonderful people on this space. It was my goal to have my home featured here! Thanks for al that you have done for so many people! I’m excited to see how life unfolds for you and your family!!! I know you will continue to do great things….xo

    • Nina

      Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I’m so very sorry for the time you went through, I can only imagine how difficult that was. I’m so glad that DS could provide some lightness or balm during that time. Sending love,

      Grace

  • I had been a once-in-a-while visitor to D*S for years, but during the weeks after my second child was born in 2014, I binge-read the site from top to bottom as I nursed my baby in the wee hours of the night. It was the perfect time to appreciate the beauty of the world, the tenderness we can have for one another, and the possibility of the future—ideas that D*S champions though its words and images. Today is my third baby’s first birthday, and as she turns one, I am thrilled that I had D*S during those long nights, and the spirit and energy of the site will continue to inspire me for a long time to come. Thanks without end!

  • Grace,

    I am 15 years late to the party!

    Literally discovered In the Company of Women on the table of a boutique while out shopping yesterday. I was intrigued and went to B&N straight away and picked up a copy.

    I’m working on a book project about the leadership and legacy of Black women in philanthropy. As I turn each page, I find beauty in the design layout and images, draw inspiration from the diverse representation of narratives, and appreciate the rich wisdom so magnificently presented.

    BRAVO and thank you. I hope all the best for you and the D*S team on the next leg of your creative journey through this thing called life!

    Warmly,
    Toya

  • Grace, thank you for presenting us with Design*Sponge. I remember I first found D*S around 12 years ago. Since then, D*S has been my go-to place for, not design (since I’m no design geek at all) resources, but for all the inspiring life and business posts. Good luck with your future endeavor, and thank you again, Grace. Love from Indonesia.

  • Dear Grace, thank you so much for your contributions to design and really just to humanity. Design Sponge was one of the first design blogs I started reading and practically the only one I still continue to come back to regularly. True creativity is personal–it comes from people and how they express their individual aesthetics. You recognized and supported this, and I think that is one reason why there was never a shortage of inspiration here. You have had a way of meeting the moment, and your voice and message of kindness and inclusivity have been such a beacon over these past few stressful years in the US. Last, but not least, thank you for featuring my own home in 2016. It really was a banner day for me, and I will be forever proud to have been a small part of this site. Hugs to all the D*S team (and especially to Garrett, who did my tour)! Looking forward to seeing what you do next, and to continue perusing the archives for yet undiscovered gems. Much love from Springfield, MO ~

    Brittany

  • Thank you for all of you.
    I always inspired by your articles & your attitude.
    I loved your cat “Turk’!

    Big love from Japan!
    Peace.

  • Dear Grace & Design*Sponge Team,

    Thank you for the inspiring and varied creative content that was always written about, photographed, and presented so well. I have turned to this site time and time again, always impressed. You did THIS so impeccably for so long. Your class, professionalism, honesty, integrity, love, kindness, and thoughtfulness were always evident. I wondered if the site would be accessible and just got shivers when I read that the Library of Congress will continue this as an archive (I am a librarian).

    I look forward to learning about whatever direction(s) life takes you in. Best wishes and thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • grace. I have followed you through your ups and downs and my ups and downs since the very beginning–one of the sites i visit regularly at least once a day. You never stand still, and watching DS evolve has been a never-ending source of inspiration and creativity. Can’t wait to see what you do next. Thank you!!
    Nadine

  • When I was 14, I stumbled across Design*Sponge. Visiting the site over the past 11 years has been such a joy and so important in shaping the woman I would become. D*S expanded my world, when I felt trapped in suburbia, opened my eyes to the world of design (and so many other of my hobbies/passions), led with empathy and compassion, helped me accept my sexuality. I even owe my career path, in part, to D*S: reading Amy Merrick’s posts inadvertently led me to discover my love of working with plants. Currently, I’m getting a Masters in plant ecology and will continue on for a PhD. Thank you, Grace and everyone else who had a hand in building a beautiful community over the years! Sending my love and wishes for exciting, fulfilling new adventures ahead!

  • Thank you, Grace! I’m not sure how long I’ve been reading D*S, it must be at least ten years because it feels like your voice has been there forever for me. No matter what changed in my life it was nice to have D*S to come back to. I’ve matured alongside you and now have a totally different, healthier perspective on interior design and decorating. In recent years the only site I’ve visited for home tours has been yours precisely because they were so much more personal and the homes perfectly imperfect. I’m hoping to buy my own condo or home soon and I’m looking forward to making it something that works for *me* and no one else– starting with covering every square inch with the art I’ve collected over the years– who cares if uneven gallery walls are trendy or not?!

    Thank you again and I’m very much looking forward to hearing where you go next!

  • Thank you for everything and how wonderful the site will be archived on the Library of Congress. All the best to you for the future…

  • For many years now my browser went straight to designsponge.com when you typed in a d in the address bar. It only shows how often I ‘popped by’ designsponge, even many years after attending art school, working in design jobs, diy idea-hunting for my student rooms and looking up interior inspiration for the first unfurnished rentals i lived in past college. I will remember it as a hugely inspiring, kind and inclusive space (with a kind comment section!) and regret not proposing our Berlin home as a sneak peak before our kiddos took control of it!

    Godspeed Grace and team D*S!

  • I loved the sophisticated articles and photos on DS.
    Such wonderful articles can not be found on Japanese sites!
    (I couldn’t understand all the sentences, but enjoyed DS very much!)
    It’s a shame to close, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.
    Thank you very very very much!
    from Japan

  • Followed you since nearly the beginning, met you at the Birmingham, AL book signing. Your work here was so inspirational to so many. Godspeed. Can’t wait to see the amazing things you and your team accomplish in this next chapter.

  • Thank you Grace for all that you have given me since I listened to your interview on Design Matters in 2011. At the time I was in my early 20s, still figuring out who I was as a creative. Your podcast and blog were alongside my journey from breakfast waitressing and making pots at night, to learning design and illustration, and eventually making a career out of being creative. You showed me that there is a whole community of creative people out there, and they inspired me to put in the work to build my creative career. I look forward to seeing what you do next!

  • Hi Grace,

    Congrats on your new chapter! I was part of the two DS events – one was the 4th of July dog parade (my dog was really part of that event), and I went to the egg decorating party when you all were still in the Pencil Factory. I made 2 friends there that have become important people in my life. Thanks for including us readers in your events!

    xo,
    Tara

    • Tara!

      Your comment made my day. I lost the video of that dog parade event and am so glad someone else remembers it- moments like that I always sat back and said to myself, “This is my job??” We’ve all been so so lucky.

      I’m so grateful that you made important friends through the site- these types of stories mean the most to me. I’ve been so lucky to hear how many people found their best friends through the site or something related to one of the events we put together. That’s just the coolest thing :)

      Grace

  • Thank you for all your hard work providing a rare space for beautiful things in all interpretations of beauty.

  • Oh , how I will miss you….every week I would check in to see what was new. Loved all the homes, sites & trends you gave us.

    There was one post that made a big impact on me… it was the one were you talked about growning up with a alcoholic in your home as a kid.
    And how it made you a very sensitive person. And how you had to work on that. Well that just talked to me in just a big way, and helped me understand things that were going on with myself. So Thank You So Much for sharing.

    Lots of Love , from Silver Lake in Los Angeles.

    Al

    • Thank you, Al.

      I believe the post you’re talking about was written by our teammate, Caitlin Kelch. I’m so thankful she shared her story with us here.

      Grace :)

  • Thank you for the years of inspiration I gained when I was feeling down creatively. I always could count on that jump start in my design engine. All the ideas and sharing that flowed through these links were invaluable to me, and so many of my creative peers. I am honored to have been a part of the archives in the before and after portion a good 10 years ago. Also, I had the thrill of winning your first published book. As an additional prize, you sent me a ribbon that was used on your site. I’ve kept it hung on my design board since receiving it. Now it’s mounted on a sign I will use for my upcoming wedding at the end of the month. :) Best wishes to all the writers and to Grace for your next adventures!

  • This is the first time I’m leaving a comment in a public forum (I’m elderly) but I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your website and how truly sorry I am to hear that it has come to an end. Thank you for all the inspiration – in faraway Switzerland I have started block printing because of one of your posts. Never too old to learn ;-)
    From Switzerland, Anita

    • Anita,

      Thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to leave a comment, we appreciate it so much. And I’m so glad you’ve started block printing- isn’t it fun?

      Sending love from New York to Switzerland,

      Grace

  • I hope there is a strong warm breeze created by all the wonderful new doors opening for you and the team now that the DS door is closing. Thank you for showing us an exit filled with positive intention and class. Excelsior!

  • I have stalked DesignSponge for so many years and enjoyed looking at new discoveries every few days. I loved your site especially because it showed the not-so-mainstream aspects of design, such as accessible design, design by minority artists and the like. I am crying just a tiny little bit because I have yet to find another site with such eye-opening design, essays and other that showed me people and places that are not so easy to find and that inspired thinking and further search. Thank you for many years of enjoyment that you have provided to so many readers. Wishing you all the best in your new venture!

  • Thank you for all you’ve done! Design Sponge has been a constant source of inspiration, its so sad to see it go. You should all be so proud of what you have made here :) XX

  • Design Sponge has been a place of refuge for me over the years. Whenever I’d feel overwhelmed and sickened by the news, I’d come here and feel a sense of calm. I have appreciated all the visual inspiration, as well as the commitment to women and diversity. Thank you for all you’ve done over the years. Best wishes on the next chapter!

  • Thank you for creating this exceptional online gathering place of ideas, design, beauty, honesty and courage. It has been a place for me to escape to when times were overwhelming and stressful. Your integrity has been a beacon to all that value people over all else. I am mournful for the time that has passed since I began reading your blog. I am also joyful for you and those you will continue to touch with your intelligent heart as your next chapter begins. Design Sponge has meant so much to me, thank you again.

  • I’m very sad for this site’s passing, but excited for you all. Design Sponge has been a consistent source of inspiration in my life for many years now. Thank you for that. Best of luck!!

  • I think I found my passion for interior design on this blog. Best to you and the rest of the Design Sponge team!

  • Oh gosh, this is huge. Firstly, congratulations on doing this job that didn’t even exist before you did it… for 15 years! And secondly, how can I even start to express the thanks for your inestimable hand up that you gave to my fledgling business at the arse end of Africa when you featured my products, my home… and even my Aunty Betty’s banana bread recipe (twice!). It is not possibly to quantify what your endorsement has done for my business – which has grown to employ 15 people (in a country with 28% unemployment) – but please know that I will always be massively grateful..

    In fact, today I brought a loaf of Aunty Betty’s banana bread in to the Skinny laMinx shop for our Wednesday general meeting so that we could celebrate your work, and to give me an opportunity to let my team know that, to a pretty significant extent, we would not be who we are today if it were not for you.

    Lots of love and best wishes for the next chapter, Heather and everyone at Skinny laMinx in Cape Town, South Africa!

  • Back in 2011 when I was 17 to 18 years old, excited to move to my first tiny apartment with my boyfriend and crazy about interior design and crafts, I came across Design Sponge. It instantly became my favorite blog about home decoration because it featured my favorite DIY’s and also because every post had a special home-y feeling that I wouldn’t find in most design – related sites/blogs (and I think I still don’t!). Design Sponge made me feel that there is someone else out there who loves a home as much as I do and it also made me feel less alone and unsure about making my first home. I have this wonderful feeling every time I visit this site and it always hits me as If I were 18 again. It has always been authentic and unique, I think everyone understands that.

    Now I’m 26 and we are planning to build our own home. I was hoping once again to get great inspiration from you guys, we’ve had you in our lives since our beginning.

    I will really miss Design Sponge and I can’t wait to hear about your next steps!