Artwork by Nick Misani
On August 30th of this year, on our 15th birthday, we will publish our very last post here at Design*Sponge. This year will be a special one, and it will be our last one operating in the way we have for so many years. But this won’t be a sad shuttering of doors — it is going to be a full-fledged, joy-filled celebration where we drag out all of our fanciest china and best linens to celebrate with you, our friends and community, for the next eight months. We’re going to do all the things we’ve always wanted to do, try and delve into here at D*S but never have — and we’ll be getting updates on some of the most beloved stories, people, and homes we’ve shared here over the years. But first, some backstory….
I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out the right way to close this beautiful, complex, and wonderfully meaningful place that I’ve had the honor of running and contributing to for the past 14 years. I’d written and re-written a letter like this dozens of times until this fall, when someone snuck into my mind and heart, and put everything I would have said onto (digital) paper. That person was Tavi Gevinson and when she closed Rookie she wrote the closing editor’s letter that I had always imagined, down to the very last word.
She talked about the changing publishing world, social media and the endless demand for more and more content (usually sponsored) that resulted in less and less support (financial and traffic) for publishers and their teams. She talked about the privilege and honor of doing what we do, and knowing the choices that would have to be made to keep things afloat would be at odds with the mission of the site (please do read her piece, she outlines the struggle of indie publishing better than anyone I’ve ever read). Most of all, she talked about starting and ending an artistic project with honesty and love at its core. And for me, that is all I have ever wanted.
We’ve published close to 20,000 posts over the past 14 years and our goal has always been simple: to help build and support the creative community by sharing stories and projects from the people in it. None of us went into this to get rich quick (or slowly), scale to a massive team or do things beyond publishing stories that meant something to us. I’ve never imagined an internet-breaking app or a household product or some sort of user experience that would mean more to me than simply publishing this blog — and while I’m not closed off to those ideas in another context, it doesn’t feel right to push and mold Design*Sponge into something it was never meant to be. For me, this will always be a place to simply connect with, learn from, and listen to friends, new and old, who happen to love design and creative pursuits in the same way we do.
The internet has changed so much since I started back in 2004. Social media has completely transformed the landscape as we know it and I’m at peace with that. I wasn’t always, but I am now. I don’t want to be someone who shakes their fist at the screen lamenting the way things have changed. I want to be the person celebrating what is and has been and soaking in all the moments we’ve been lucky enough to have with each other and talking about what we’ve learned in the process.
I also don’t want to go out with a tear. I want to go out with a huge smile, a joyful laugh and a giant communal hug that celebrates the past, present and future of this amazing community we’ve dedicated our lives to.
So what are we doing this year? Quite simply: Everything. We’ll of course keep up with our normal schedule of homes and stories, but we’re also going to focus on projects and trips and posts that have joy as their main goal.
I want to celebrate with our team, I want to go SEE them in person — I want to see all of YOU in person. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to throw caution and sponsorship and all the rules of what we “should” be doing the window and hit the road (literally and figuratively) to see how the creative community has changed over the past 15 years — and what’s coming next. Because I have NO idea what I’m going to do with myself after this glorious project comes to an end. But something tells me that I’ll know more at the end of this year of listening, learning and collecting new memories.
The memories I have here from this site are rich and varied and complicated, just like real life. I grew up here. I went through some of the toughest times of my life here. I lost some of my dearest friendships here, and found beautiful new friendships and forever chosen-family members in this team and community. Design*Sponge was the college experience I always wanted to have but never did. It let me grow, fall on my face, regroup, fall again and learn to embrace those falls as part of the evolution of full human being. I’m not interested in building a perfect life or a perfect home anymore — those things don’t exist. Life is messy. Houses are messy. But there is beauty in that messiness and there is grit and love and growth.
So let’s get started. Let’s spend this last year having fun together. Trying new things, falling on our faces together and helping each other get back up. Let’s celebrate homes of all types and people of all backgrounds and design that has no rules and takes everyone’s needs and joys into account. I know I’m ready for this, so I hope you’ll join us in this final year of love, laughter and community. Xo, Grace