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Peace, Design, and Creative Overdrive: An Interview with Design*Sponge Founder, Grace Bonney

People | August 6th, 2008 No comments

Design*Sponge is a wildly popular daily site dedicated to home and product design, run by Brooklyn-based writer, Grace Bonney. Grace REALLY KNOWS design. She is a contributing editor at Domino Magazine and CRAFT magazine, and a freelancer for House and Garden, New York Home, Food and Wine, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Post, and Everyday with Rachael Ray – to name a few.

DS Biz Lady SeriesAnd! (We love this!) Grace runs the D*S Biz Lady Series, a national series of meet-ups for women running design-based businesses. Upwards of 200 women gather to talk, network and receive free advice from local experts on the topics of PR and Marketing, Wholesale/Retailing, Business/Legal advice and hear the story of a successful local designer who’s turned a passion into a full-time job.

The next D*S Biz Lady Event is coming to Boston on Thursday, August 14th, from 7 to 9pm at West Elm.

Grace Bonney and Carrie & Danielle Talk Inspiration:

Design SpongeWhat inspires you?
Whether it’s engineering, fine art or medicine, I find people who are intensely focused on one topic endlessly inspiring. I always love people who don’t live life in moderation and just dive in head first. So when I’m feeling uninspired I try to surround myself with passionate people in any field- and if I can’t find that I always turn to documentaries about people who are experts or leaders in their field- those individuals always have so much to teach about following your passions and focusing on your goals.

How do you know when you’re inspired?
When I look at the clock and see it’s 8am and then the next time I look back it’s 5pm and I haven’t felt tired, over-worked or hungry. When I find a project I love or an idea that excites me it’s like my entire body goes into overdrive and I plow through ideas, tasks and the necessary work. Lately I haven’t felt as inspired and work has felt like, well, work. And that’s when I know I need to shake things up a bit and surround myself with people and places that inspire creativity.

Just by virtue of being you, what are you teaching?
I’d hope that I’m teaching young women that if you set your mind to something and focus on your goals you can achieve most anything. I’ve always know what my strengths and weaknesses were and I managed to find a way to carve out a place in the world where my job would play to my strengths, as well as my passions. It was a lot of hard work to get where I am today but if you’re someone who’s a self-starter and passionate about reaching your goals- anything is possible. I also hope I can teach people to trust their gut- I’ve never made any decision that I didn’t feel 100% in my gut was right. If anything gives me that iffy feeling in my stomach I steer clear- and it’s served me well so far.

3 Well Loved Books:

  • 20th Century Patterns20th Century Pattern Design
  • by Lesley Jackson
    “The first book to examine pattern as an essential part of twentieth-century design history.”

  • Printing by HandPrinting by Hand
  • by Lena Corwin
    “The quirks are what show the maker’s intimate involvement in the process…”

  • In the PinkIn the Pink
  • by Dorothy Draper
    “Has there ever been an American decorator as famous as Dorothy Draper?”

What’s the feeling you’re usually trying to achieve?
Peace and calmness. My job involves spinning like a top 24/7 so I’m always trying to reach that level of organization where things flow in a really Zen-like way. I feel like with my job right now I’m about to make some big changes and take things to the next level so I’m just trying to enjoy any peace and quiet I can find in my day before I have to dive back in and work like crazy.

What do you crave?
An empty inbox, a week-off and a sense of completion. With my work I feel like I’m never really finished with a project because there’s always a new idea, a new email to answer or a new job that seems like fun to pursue.

What’s your favorite website or blog?
I’m most devoted to Heather Armstrong’s Dooce.com. I think she’s a fascinating person who is so incredibly brave and bold to put herself out there in the world in such a big way. I look up to that sort of bravery and hope I can achieve a small slice of that one day.

What’s a repeating lesson in your life?
Listen to your gut. Any time I don’t I’ve regretted the decision I’ve made.

What’s the advice that you’re always giving people?
I’m always telling people to carve out their own niche. A lot of times it’s tough to figure out what to do and how to make your mark if you’re only considering paths that have already been forged. I never knew design blogging was a career option and if I had stuck to the traditional route after college I may never have been able to take part in so many amazing opportunities. If you know what you love, and what your real strengths are- be bold and find a way to make those two things your job. It’s tough but it will always pay off in the end to do something you love and rely on your real talents as an individual.

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