a big moment: a new home in the pencil factory

by Grace Bonney

For the past eight years, I have been running Design*Sponge from the deeply recessed divot in my polka-dotted couch. It has happily been my own personal headquarters since the beginning, but just as I’m not the same girl I was when I started D*S, neither are my working needs. Slowly and organically, D*S has grown to encompass more than just my own design ramblings but also those of a small team of talented design enthusiasts who inspire and support each other with new ideas. As much as I love having a cat by my side all day, over the past few months, I’ve felt the urge to interact with actual human beings on a more regular basis, especially those I work with here at D*S. So it was a really exciting moment yesterday when I heard from our rental agent that our application for our very first Design*Sponge office had been approved.

It took me a really long time to get to a place where I understood and appreciated the value of an office (over saving that money to invest in bigger projects), but I realize now that there’s a reason I waited this long to hang my blogging hat somewhere other than my sofa’s arm. It’s taken me eight years to find a team of people that I really and truly want to work with every day (in person), and I’m so thankful that I’ve found that. So starting next year, we’ll be packing up and moving into a new office in one of my favorite buildings in the whole world: Greenpoint’s Pencil Factory. When I first moved to Brooklyn in 2003, I lived right around the corner, and I used to walk past the building and smile whenever I saw the little tiled pencils on the exterior. What was once the Faber Pencil Factory (which moved to Brooklyn in the late 1800s) is now a building full of some of my favorite artists, illustrators and creative people. I’ve been visiting it for years now to conduct interviews and check out new artwork, so to be able to call this our new home is truly, truly special.

I’ve always been so thankful to have a place to talk about what I love with people I love just as much, so I wanted to share this special moment with all of you. You are the reason we’re able to make this big step, and I wanted to thank you for your support over the past eight years.

This new space will not only serve as a hub for Amy and I (and Kate when she’s in town from SF), but also a place for us to collaborate, host visiting artists and hold classes, demos and celebrations of all kinds. I can’t wait to let you peek inside — it’s going to be one heck of a before & after. Until then, I wanted to share some images from the building’s exterior. I can’t wait to see those giant pencils every day. (Thanks to Kathleen for helping us find our new home.) xo, grace

*Images via Scouting NY and Scouting NY on Flickr

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  • Wow congratulations! this is a huuuge step for you! can’t wait to see the makeover :)

    In Dramatic Fashion

  • Congratulations, Grace. While working from home is wonderful, I’m sure you’re going to adore having a space to call your own (allowing you to reclaim your sofa for other things!). Exciting news indeed for D*S.

  • Congratulations on the new D*S digs! Can’t wait to see pictures when you get inside!

  • How absolutely fabulous. Congratulations, the building looks amazing. What an exciting time for you. Can’t wait to see how you decorate your space.

    Best wishes

  • How thrilling! My business is also moving into our first official headquarters and it’s really a validating moment. Plus, the planning is so much fun… know you will create a truly special home for you and your team.

  • Congrats Grace! New beginnings are always exciting, so enjoy settling into your new home!

  • What an inspiring post – and we all wish you the best of luck in the continued growth of D*S, it inspires us, so we hope it continues to inspire you too:)

  • Wow, over the moon for you. I hope the future is bright for you and your team. Would love to see some before and afters of the interior ;) …

  • So excited for you in this big step & growth for your company! Cool location & building. I know you & your team will be very happy there. Many congrats!

  • Congrats Grace adn the Design*Sponge team! This is such an amazing acheivement. So glad to see the blog continue to grow and thrive!

  • Congratulations Grace, that’s really exciting and what a great building! And if you miss a cat by your side you can always adopt an office cat. We fostered a stray who’s now Olive the flower shop cat : )

  • a huge congratulations to you in the next chapter of D*S!!!! it will be a beautiful space and foster many many more creative outlets and events. I look forward to attending a class there! I lived in Williamsburg for many years myself and used to ride my bike to and from GP to visit my best friends. Cheers to you!

  • The cycle continues! It seems like people get tired of office life, work from home to build something big, move into an office, and go from there…but this time on their own terms. Congrats! (Oh, and I enjoyed reading about you in the W&M alumni magazine recently – had no idea we were there at the same time!)

  • Congrats! If I’m not mistaken, Christopher Silas Neal keeps a studio space at the Pencil Factory. Envy!!

    Maybe you already know that…I just noticed the links in your post, but didn’t click on them :)

  • Congrats in acquiring your first office & to your many successes. I’ve been an occasional reader & have enjoyed some of your design POVs.

  • That is quite possibly the most awesome building I’ve ever seen… it’s perfect for you, Grace & D*S :) Growth & prosperity in the future :)

  • You earned it! Congrats to you and your work family on a huge leap and and an even bigger accomplishment. I’m excited to see what unfolds!

  • Super exciting news. Congratulations! Love the pencils. Can’t wait to see the before and afters.

  • That’s fantastic, Grace & Amy! It will be a great change, & now your couch can be used for relaxing :) Can’t wait to see pictures of the inside when you’re all finished!

  • Congratulations, Grace and team! The place looks great and very unique! So excited for you all and can’t wait to see what you do next!

  • What an exciting moment! Congratulations!!!
    Cannot wait to see all of the Before & After pictures.
    Have fun making this new space D*S’s own!

  • A big congratulations! After working from home for the first 5 years of my business, I can say from personal experience, that the move to a dedicated space is one of the most positive things you can do for your business and for your personal life. What a terrific way to start the new year!

  • Congratulations! That looks like such a cool building–I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before. I can’t wait to see how you guys set up your office.

  • That is really something special, Grace! What a journey your blogging career has been! And as a long time reader, it’s such a joy to watch you continue to grow! Truly admirable! Many Congrats on your new office space! Cannot wait to see the before and after! (can I use enough exclamation points?!)

  • so, so excited for you and your team, grace. i can’t wait to see your new digs and what y’all do to them!! congratulations! xoxo

  • Yay! Congratulations to you and the D*S team! I know that for me, working in an old pencil factory would be super-inspiring. Cheers to all of you on this next phase :)

  • Congrats Design Sponge! You have been my daily inspiration for quite some time now and to think you are now going to be in a pretty big building its even more inspiring!
    Keep on going strong! A big fan.

  • Monumentous! Congrats to my D*S crew! Now I’ll definitely have to plan a remote DIY to hang out there.

  • Congratulations!!
    I work from my brooklyn apartment as well and even though my little brand is pretty new I am dreaming about having a space dedicated to this activity…
    I love your blog!

  • CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! you guys deserve it so much!!!! I wish you, Grace, and all your collaborators a great time in the new space! keep making it big! God bless you guys! kisses from Brazil

  • Oh wow, that building looks incredible! Can’t wait to see your office space!.Congratulations Grace and D*S team – so excited for you!

  • I love that building! Aren’t pencils so fun and amazing? I hope that everything goes well with the transformation from before to after, and I can’t wait to see the results. What a great step forward for you all!

  • Congratulations! I hope your new location will bring you inspiration and continued success. I’m so looking forward to see your designs realized for the interior.

  • Congratulations! Thank you to all of you for your tireless work in producing this blog. Design Sponge* was one of the first blogs I subscribed too and I still look forward to reading it every day!

  • Congratulations d*s! This ishuge! I’ve loved watching this site grow and am excited to see where you guys go next.

  • Congratulations on your first office space and what a lovely building! Looking forward to seeing inside as well and the make-over process… but sad you have to leave your little cat behind at home >(*!*)< I'm sure he/she is going to miss sitting next to you all day…

  • It´s a beautiful building! Congratulations, finding a place you love for your work it´s the best thing. I have a tiny studio in a special neighbourhood and i´m really happy working there.

  • I love this building! Congrats. I’ve followed DS for a long time. You’ve done a beautiful job growing it.
    btw I just can’t help sharing a link to a famous vintage essay about the crafting of a pencil that I always loved since reading it in college: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/I,_Pencil

  • grace this is dreamy! it’s like willy wonka’s chocolate factory for a blogger. congratulations (!!!) and i can’t wait to meet you in person at alt summit. thank you for inspiring me with your honesty. xo, marni

  • Congratulations! We’re all excited to see what you do with it and to read the next chapter in the D*S story… :)

  • i almost fell out of my seat when i saw those pencils! are you lucky enough to be nestled between two of them?

  • just wanted to say congratulations on your new office! sounds like it will be an exciting new year and looking forward to seeing pics of how you design the space.

  • so many people with personal businesses think the need the fancy office first, it’s great to see you let your biz grow organically and are expanding when the time is right. Fantastic space, congrats on the big move.

    • thanks heidi

      i agree. i got a lot of head shaking from other bloggers and business owners for not having an office. but i’m glad i waited and chose to give that money to our writers instead. sometimes it’s nice to have little to no overhead if that’s how your business runs best.


  • I’ve worked in this building before! It’s such a treasure chest of talent. Just watch out for those bathrooms, especially in the winter ;)

  • I don’t know about all of them – we were on the second floor and they’d leave the window open all the time. You’ll just have to make quick trips!

  • How amazing for you… I have read this site for years not realizing you work in the same neighborhood I grew up in. How amazing for me to have such talented people near by.
    I walk my dog by this bulding every day always admiring it and remembering when it was an actual pencil factory.
    Good Luck with your move!!!

  • Congratulations Grace! What an exciting step for your business. I can’t wait to see the after photos, and maybe one day to attend a class or other event there when I’m in town. p.s. I love the exterior… so utterly charming.

  • I fell in love as soon as I saw those pencils. Reminded me about the toy factory we visited in 2nd grade. I’ve already marked the place as one I have to visit when I visit USA… one day.