Design*Sponge

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A Day In The Life by 14

A Day in the Life of Stella Maria Baer

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Stella Maria Baer is an artist who, for the last few years, has become known for her paintings of animals (or people) riding on top of other animals. (Perhaps the inspiration came from the years that she spent working as a wrangler on her family’s ranch in Wyoming?)  She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico but these days she lives in New Haven, Connecticut with her husband, Seth, dog, Fox, and hedgehog, Hegel. (Cute overload. Hedgehog photos here, here and here.) -Amy

About Stella: “I’ve been painting for 8 years. For many years it was a private, nearly secret practice. From 2009 to 2012 I worked for artist Titus Kaphar as a studio and research assistant. For the past two years I’ve been working as much as possible on my own work. My favorite thing about being a painter is the way my work defies my own expectations. Paintings never turn out exactly how I think they will, which puts me in a place of discovery in my studio.”

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Image above: “Every morning Fox and I get up around six and go for a walk.”

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Image above: “After feeding Fox breakfast, I spend a little time journaling about things I want to make, my current color gravitations, and anything else on my mind. (Crescent moon cup by Small Spells)

See the rest of Stella’s day after the jump!

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books by 19

5 Great Beach Reads

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When I was younger, I had a book in my hands at all times – to the annoyance of anyone trying to get my attention. I did everything while reading. Everything. I even perfected a shower-while-reading method. (The secret lies is reading with one hand outside of the shower, drying off that hand and switching.) I devoured books – books about girls with horses, books about girls who dance, books about girls who babysat. It didn’t matter. And when I read those books, I went far, far away. Fast forward a few (ok, twenty) years, and I can barely read two pages on my iPad at night before dozing off. And even if I do manage a few pages during the day, I just don’t have the same level of concentration that I once had. (Thank you, real life.) But summer promises a bit more time for reading, and I’m excited to crack open the pages of something new. Most of these books are very chapter focused. So, if you have some attention issues, like I do lately, you can read one chapter and come back to it. But if you’ve read anything good lately, or have something you can’t wait to page through, add it to the comments!  -Amy

See the full list of summer reads after the jump!

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before and after by 21

Before & After: A Victorian Settee Gets A Modern Refresh

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You know how everybody pretty much universally looks to the 1980s as the decade where taste went to die? The decade where garishness, glitz and conspicuous consumption reigned above all? Well, the Victorian era was pretty much the 80s of the nineteenth century. A time that witnessed absurdly fast industrialization, a wildly expanded middle class, and the creation of contemporary consumer culture, the Victorian age was known for its over-the-top designs that combined lavish materials, lavish forms and lavish sizes. “Go big or go home” was most definitely the mantra du jour. This is not to say that Victorian designs are not beautiful in their own right. It’s just that, sometimes they need to be toned down a bit for their beauty to truly shine through. Take, for example, this lovely settee transformation that was taken on by Brooklyn-based interior designer, Luca Shapiro. Covered in a faded red velvet and a worn-out padding, this settee had certainly seen better days. Rather than let its condition worsen any more, Luca decided to give it a delightful sprucing-up, courtesy of a beautiful (and simple!) fabric. The end result is a notably subdued but nonetheless stunning piece, allowing its formal elements to shine through. It is at once modern and timeless. Check out all of the photos, plus Luca’s design notes after the jump! —Max

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interviews by 4

After the Jump: How To Find Inspiration with Katie Deedy of Grow House Grow

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Today’s radio episode and next week’s are the last shows before I head out for a quick summer break (from radio, not the blog). So as I bring this part of the season to a close, I wanted to focus on some other big picture ideas that lend themselves to the sort of open-ended thinking, brainstorming and planning that I feel is best done on a vacation break.

This week’s show is all about INSPIRATION. Not just where to find it, but how to use sources of inspiration to advance your business, your life and set yourself apart from the pack. I was lucky enough to be joined by Katie Deedy, founder and designer of Grow House Grow, one of the most creative wallpaper companies around. Katie has found inspiration in everything from sister cities and carnivorous plants to pioneering women in science. Her diverse sources of inspiration – and methods for finding them – set not only Katie, but her work apart from the greater design community in a big way. So today she joined me to talk about all the challenges of staying inspired, how best to research and what to do when you hit the wall and can’t move forward (hint: she recommends yoga and a great support system). I respect Katie and her work immensely, so this show meant a lot to me. I hope you’ll get a kick out of her humor, be inspired by her work ethic and be blown away by the story of her mother’s shining example as much as I was. This is definitely a show not to miss. Thanks so much to Katie for joining me (despite a bad cold) – she was such a trooper and shared SO much great information and advice. xo, grace

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • Katie’s go-to sources of inspiration
  • How to push through inspiration blocks
  • The pros & cons of digital inspiration
  • The story of Katie’s amazing mother, who is a professional storyteller in Georgia
  • Why Katie prefers her Lord of the Rings sans Elijah Wood

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The Big Question by 71

What was your childhood bedroom like? #NoJudgement

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The Design*Sponge community is filled with people who love design and, more specifically, design in the home. For each of us, this passion may have formed in a number of different ways—from magazines devoured during trips to the local bookstore, visits to a neighbor or relative’s beautiful home, or maybe the design collections at a favorite museum. Most likely, though, your first forays into home design and making your home more beautiful came by way of decorating your childhood or teenage bedroom. For many of us, this was ground zero for our interest in design—the laboratory in which we experimented, discovered new interests, and really began to get our hands dirty. Although many of our bedrooms were, in retrospect, nothing to write home about—temples to our favorite boy bands, places to hoard personal mementos, and canvases for colors we would never dream of today—they were no less formative or personally special. Today, we’re sharing some of our own memories of our childhood bedrooms and, readers, we want to hear about yours. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly—we don’t care! Like the Beach Boys said, “there’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to, in my room.” This is a safe space. Spill. #NoJudgement. —Max Read More

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sights & sounds by 5

Sights And Sounds To Start Your Day

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Photo by Giulio Ghirardi. Flickr | Portfolio

I can be a bit of a grouch when it comes to summer. The stifling humidity, the sunburns, the mosquitos—I just can’t. Still—there are certainly a few things that I love about the season, one of which is its unfailing ability to provide daydreams. Indeed, the drawn-out, heavy days of midsummer seem perfectly suited to laying on your couch and letting your mind wander, with a good tune playing and a cool breeze on your face. Here are some tunes I’ve been feeling this week, along with a few beautiful images to accompany them. Enjoy! —Max

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