August 30, 2011

Grace Bonney: The design revolution is at hand

Interview by
Grace Bonney answered some questions about the little design blog that changed everything.
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It all began in 2004—a writer in Brooklyn created a blog to fill with her design ideas, never expecting it to become an online sensation. Today, Design*Sponge is one of the most popular sources of DIY inspiration.

It was only a matter of time before Grace Bonney, the genius behind D*S, released her first book, Design*Sponge at Home, which, like the blog, is filled with gorgeous photographs and easy instructions. With Bonney’s brilliant uses of space, color and texture, every room has the chance to be a showstopper.

What is your favorite aspect of the blog come to life in the book?
I really love the way we’ve managed to cross-reference so many different homes, skills, styling tips and projects in one book. For me, the best part of a blog is how you can link to so many different pieces of information in one post, so I wanted to find a way to carry that through to the book, and I think we did. I love that you can open the book to a home tour and then flip to different pages to learn how to make something you see in the home, learn more about its history, or see a flower arrangement inspired by the home’s color palette.

What was the biggest challenge in moving from a blog format to a book format?
For me it was most difficult to make the edits. I’m so used to having an infinite amount of room to publish online, so having to narrow things down (and lose some really special pieces that just wouldn’t fit) was a real learning experience for me. But I’m glad I did–in the end it really helped me solidify what Design*Sponge’s style and aesthetic is all about.

How did you choose which projects went into the book?
Just like the site, I chose based purely on my gut. I looked for homes, projects and makeovers that grabbed me and made me smile, want to learn more or inspired the best kind of jealousy. I wanted people to have those same gut level responses every time they turned the page.

I looked for homes, projects and makeovers that grabbed me and made me smile, want to learn more or inspired the best kind of jealousy.

In the book’s foreword, Jonathan Adler calls D*S a revolution. Do you consider your blog and book a part of a revolution?
That was an incredibly kind comment and kicked off a serious bout of blushing and appreciation on my end. I don’t often sit back and look at the work I do at D*S, but I think if I step back for a moment and look at our contribution to the community, I think our team has done something really special. There’s been a huge groundswell of change within the design (and publishing) community in the last 10 years and I’m proud to have played a part in it.

How has Brooklyn shaped D*S?
Brooklyn informs everything I do on a day-to-day basis. It’s the place I call home and the energy that exists here is hard to find elsewhere. People (artists and art-appreciators alike) here are so driven to follow their passion it’s hard not to get caught up in that and really follow your heart. Without that sort of community around me, I’m not sure how hard I would have pushed to do all the projects I have over the past seven years. But when you’re surrounded with so much talent it’s the best sort of inspiration to do your best.

What is the most daunting part of DIY, and what advice can you give inexperienced DIY-ers?
I think DIY projects can seem daunting when you’ve never really thrown yourself in and gotten your hands dirty. But it’s really about pushing past that fear and not being afraid to make mistakes. My advice is to spend as much time as it takes to set up a clean work space, get your supplies in order and prepped and clean as you work. Just like cooking, when your space is clear and your mise en place are right at your fingertips, things flow easily.

What is the one thing every room must have?
Texture. I always feel sad when I walk into a space and everything is cold and smooth. I want to feel some sort of warmth in a space to bring it to life and texture does that in a snap. A quilted throw, a knitted pillow or a great wool rug can really add dimension to a space without spending a ton of money.

If you could move into anyone’s home, who’s would you move into?
I’d move into one of the many Neutra homes in Silverlake (Los Angeles)—anyone’s will do. I love the way he integrated moving exterior walls into each space so the outdoors and indoors blended seamlessly.

What was your best ever yard sale/thrift store find?
Our old TV credenza was a serious online thrift score. It was part of an estate sale on eBay and was originally a $1,000+ piece, but I got it for $200. I sold it when we moved earlier this year, but it was one of my favorite pieces of furniture for years.

What’s next for you and for the blog?
I’m most excited to hit the road for the book tour! We so rarely get to break out from behind our laptops and meet people, so this is a huge treat for us. To interact with and meet our readers is going to be the biggest reward for all the hard work we put into the book.

Get the Book

Design*Sponge at Home

Design*Sponge at Home

By Grace Bonney
ISBN 9781579654313

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