Past & Present Book: Cover Reveal + Preorder

by Amy Azzarito

I’ve been blogging for almost a decade now, and I can say that, without a doubt, writing a book is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not only does it challenge you to have a clear, focused vision and voice, but it also requires a level of dedication and passion that can be difficult to maintain over a two-year production period. So I have an endless amount of respect for anyone who undertakes this process — and does so successfully. More importantly, I am proud to celebrate one of my closest colleagues and friends, Amy Azzarito, on having made it through this process with her very first book. Amy has spent the last two years turning her design history column for Design*Sponge, Past & Present, into a beautiful new book for STC/Abrams. I’ve seen her shape a small kernel of an idea into a book that is full of thoughtful and passionate essays about design history and creative projects that extend those ideas from the past into today’s modern world. I’m always proud to see a member of our team do well, but this accomplishment really means a lot to me because I saw how hard Amy worked on this every day. So I’m thrilled to share a sneak peek of Amy’s new book cover! Illustrated by Julia Rothman, it’s a great entryway into a book that is brimming with interesting design stories and fun ways to bring them to life. A huge congrats to Amy and everyone else who helped her make Past & Present a reality. I can’t wait to have this book on my shelf. xo, grace

The full post continues after the jump . . .

I’m so excited that this project is nearly out in the world. Honestly, working on it has felt like I was back in school. I spent many, many days holed up at home surrounded by books and delving into all my favorite decorative arts topics. Getting my master’s in Decorative Arts History at Cooper-Hewitt was one of the best things I ever did. I just loved learning about how our homes have evolved to look the way they do, such as when the sofa found its way into the living room. When I graduated and came to work at Design*Sponge, it was really important to be able to share that, and Grace came up with the fantastic idea of bringing something from the present into each little history lesson — and the Past & Present column was born. Early on, I knew I would love to turn the column into a book, if for no other reason than to organize things chronologically (I can be a little type A). But taking the column out of blog form meant that we could concentrate on some big moments in Decorative Arts history, and all 24 essays were newly written for the book. Then I worked with Julia Rothman to find the perfect way to illustrate each essay. When working on the column, I usually do the projects or roundups myself, but for the book, I wanted to challenge my favorite artists and designers to come up with something inspired by history. One of my favorite memories of working on the book is showing up at the ConfettiSystems sparkly studio in New York City’s fashion district with an armload of books about Art Deco for them to flip through. I challenged all 24 contributors — Eddie Ross, Todd Oldham, EmersonMade and Caitlin Mociun, to name a few — to get inspired by a moment in history and then make something that we could repeat at home. It was a long journey, and I’m so incredibly proud to share the result.

Deciding on the cover for a book is HUGE — everyone has a say. I thought it would be fun to share some of the cover options for Past & Present. It was a bit of an evolution! — Amy Azzarito

Image above: The final cover for Past & Present: 24 Favorite Moments in Decorative Arts History and 24 Modern DIY Projects Inspired by Them (STC Craft | A Melanie Falick Book).  Now available for preorder on Amazon! (More information on the Abrams website here.)

Image above: One of the earlier cover designs. The concern with this one was that it didn’t quite convey that there were both essays about history and DIY projects. I loved that it felt elegant, and I loved seeing Julia’s illustrations from inside the book on the cover.

Image above: Another attempt to tell the DIY part of the story. Unfortunately, Grace pointed out that the tape measure made it feel more like a weight-loss book than a DIY book. And once I got that idea in my head, I couldn’t get it out! She was totally right!

See more Past & Present covers after the jump . . .

Image above: In trying to find ways to visually explain that the book is both history plus DIY projects, we had Julia experiment with her illustration for the Past & Present decoupage post, but I missed the scrolling swirls, and it just didn’t feel as elegant to me.

Image above: Julia decided to go a little wild and see what would happen. I loved the busyness, but we were afraid that it might be a little much.

Image above: The publisher really wanted to see what a photo cover would look like. This is a photo from one of the DIY projects in the book (Kate made the clock!). I was still pushing for an illustrated cover but liked this one more than I expected to, so it ended up becoming the back cover of the book.

Image above: After the “wild cover,” we decided we needed more white space, so Julia organized everything in grids. Getting closer!

Image above: So we decided to go with the grid idea but simplified the color palette. Julia gave us two options: blue (above) and pink (below). The centerpiece of the cover is adapted from one of the books project – a Federal-inspired decal project by Shanna Murray.

Image above: And the final version — very minimal compared to the earlier options, and now we have the photo version as the back cover.

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  • I think you settled on the perfect cover! Fun yet still elegant. Using the photo on the back page was also a nice idea; it really is a gorgeous shot. Congratulations, and I can’t wait to pick up a copy!

  • So interesting to see the decision-making process and all the different versions along the way. It looks amazing; can’t wait to see what’s inside.
    Congratulations Amy!

  • many congrats and love the story of the cover. They’re all great and I like the one you chose.

    and I know the fun and challenge of pulling a lot of writing together. i’ve been working on my online Life Dreaming Expedition guidebook for 3 years and am at the point where I just want it out in the world.

    i hope it sells heaps and many people can enjoy the writing and the DIY ideas. The clock has already inspired me.

    • Thanks so much, Liz! I’m very excited to have it out in the world.

      Good luck on your guidebook. It sounds really cool.

  • Absolutely LOVE the final product, as a designer myself I know the courage it takes to show the work in progress. I am often ashamed of my starting off point, LOL. What I love most is how you got the decoration across without it overpowering the title while simultaneously looking new and vintage!

  • CONGRATULATIONS AMY!!! It seems like yesterday that we were talking about it over sweet tea I cannot WAIT to get my copy xo

  • Can’t wait to have this on my bookshelf! I’ve been waiting for this to come out, Past & Present is one of my absolute favorite columns.

    I talked with you at the Design*Sponge book tour stop in Asheville, NC. Your column really made me recognize my love and passion for design, and led me to start pursuing a career in furniture design/woodworking.. so, thank you! Love your choice for the cover and so excited to preorder!

  • Looks amazing, I adore Julia Rothman’s illustrations so I cannot help but truly like how the cover turned out, as well as seeing the process. It’s great that you shared it with all of us.
    Will you be doing a book tour like Grace did? I hope so! It would be fabulous to meet you in my hometown to get my copy signed :)

    • Thank you so much, Ashley! Thanks so nice to hear. I’m still tired from the d*s book tour so we’ll probably be sticking pretty close to home for this one. ;)
      xo Amy

  • Happily, I think the final cover is the best. It’s very striking and sophisticated. Congratulations!

  • Congratulations! As a historian and lover of design, I’ve really enjoyed your columns. I can’t wait to read your book. I hope you’ll be doing a book tour!

    PS I hope your “Living In” book is next!

  • Congratulations Amy…I am very impressed! You make the family proud. Never stop getting inspired by others and always continue to evolve. Best wishes!