As we get closer to our final month of posting, I’m excited to be sharing more updates from Design*Sponge alumni. Today we’re getting a visit from the very first full-time team member at DS, and our resident design historian, Amy Azzarito. Amy and I first met when she was writing for Apartment Therapy and working at the New York Public Library. After collaborating on the Design by the Book online series (You can still watch the original full series here. We all look like babies!), we started working together at DS where Amy wrote countless design history posts and hundreds of home tours. Today we’re catching up with Amy to see what she’s been up to since moving to the West Coast and becoming a mom! Take it away, Amy… xo, Grace
Photo above by Eduardo Navarro for California Closets
Full name: Amy Azzarito
Could you please share with us your favorite post/s from your time at DS and why they were your favorite?
This sneak peek featuring the home of Victoria Reppert, a Foreign Services officer stationed in Tunsia, was proof that you don’t need to wait until you get your forever home to settle in. The Foreign Service residences come furnished and Victoria became an expert in disguising the not-so-stylish utilitarian furniture with locally thrifted items, personal accessories and DIY projects.
I won’t say that my first design history post on Design*Sponge was necessarily an example of my best writing (also, was written in the days of our “no-capital letters” style, so read at your own peril!) , but it was the start of carving out my own little niche. I’ll be forever grateful to Grace for letting me practice writing in public and for all of you for reading. Ten years later, I’m still writing about design history and crystal chandeliers are one of the topics in my next book due out in Spring 2020.
Did you have any memorable moments, interactions or experiences during your time at DS that you’d feel comfortable sharing?
For five years Grace and I traveled to Brimfield, Massachusetts for some of the best antique shopping I’d ever experienced. We always found ourselves so inspired. (One year, we even took our moms!) It’s also where we met Tara Mangini and Percy Bright of Jersey Ice Cream Co whose home projects have been featured many times (one of my favorites was their eight-week sublet).
It’s fun to go back and see how, in these early posts, both Grace and I lament living in small Brooklyn apartments. Even though I’m now living in a larger home, I think the space constraints of New York taught us to be selective about what we let into our homes and our lives. And even though, I’ve now moved many times since 2010, those Brimfield purchases have traveled with me.
Image above: From 2012, this Greek medallion was one of my favorite Brimfield finds. I think it was $250, which, at the time, was a lot of money for me.
Image above: She first graced the walls of my small Brooklyn apartment. (That bar cart was another Brimfield find and I still have it, too!)
Image above: And although she weighs 80 or so pounds, I moved her all the way across the country, and she now hangs in my closet. Photo by Eduardo Navarro for California Closets
What do you remember most about your time at DS or that has informed the work you do now?
One of the most exciting (and a little exhausting) periods of my time at Design*Sponge was when Grace and I traveled to 30 cities on a book tour for Design*Sponge at Home. It was such an honor to meet so many long-time readers and contributors. I’ve stayed in touch with so many of them.
For example, Betsy Ginn of SMID Design had another one of my all-time favorite homes, and actually helped me design my Sacramento apartment. Rachel Thurston, who took photos on the Design*Sponge book tour and whose home was featured in 2010, shot my wedding and Anne Sage, who I met through Design*Sponge, has been working with me to design my baby nursery here in the San Francisco Bay area!
And it’s really the people that made my time at Design*Sponge so special and that I miss even today. Grace, Kate Pruitt and I had so many fun inspiration trips. We did so much! Like producing a newspaper that readers all around the country helped us distribute! And then, when we got the office in Greenpoint, and Max joined the team, we were always doing something silly like the bike picnic and a fun Montauk day-trip. We were constantly hosting classes and group crafting.
What are you up to now? And how can our community support you and your work these days?
I moved from Brooklyn to California in 2014, and I’m now living just outside of San Francisco, in Marin County, with my husband, Mark (we got married last May!) and this May, we welcomed a baby girl into our lives — Stella Dot (Stella, a name from my Italian side and Dot, in honor of Mark’s mom).
In Spring 2020, Chronicle Books is publishing The Elements of a Home: The Curious Histories of Everyday Household Objects, From Pillows to Forks. The book is an anecdotal history of everything from the sofa to the duvet cover to the wineglass. From conception to publication, it will have taken me six years to complete! I’m so proud of it and it’s really an extension of the Past & Present column that I started at Design*Sponge.
I also started a non-profit, A Reading World, that provides school libraries in Uganda with books. If you want to follow us, sign up for our newsletter and if you’re on the West Coast or a publisher and want to help us collect gently used or new books, let me know!