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A Conversation with Design Sponge Founder Grace Bonney

Before her recent book signing at Anthropologie, I met with Grace Bonney, Design Sponge founder…

Before her recent book signing at Anthropologie, I met with Grace Bonney, Design Sponge founder and author of the new book “Design Sponge at Home.” What a treat it was! As her thousands of fans have come to know, Bonney is both charming and wise. Here’s what I learned about the woman and her mini design empire.

• Bonney has a staff of about 20—mainly freelancers—working in Brooklyn, San Francisco, Paris, London, and other cities. They focus on various aspects of the site; here’s a little behind-the-scenes on one aspect: The two editors and three interns who are in charge of the site’s popular “Sneak Peeks” house tours, which are posted 12 times a month, email back and forth with homeowners (who photograph their own homes for the site) for anywhere from six months to two years to get their spaces looking Design-Sponge-ready.

• Bonney’s latest obsession is radio. She is a fan of writer/artist Debbie Millman’s Design Matters podcast.

• While she has expanded her format in multiple ways—including the aforementioned book and a newspaper she produced this summer, which she distributed at brick-and-mortar shops in cities around the country—she wants to stay as small and focused as possible. “I don’t want to be everything to everyone,” she says. “People say, ‘You should have a Design Sponge Pets and a Design Sponge Kids,’ but I’m not interested in that right now. If we do cooking, it’s going to have to do with design—I’m not just posting recipes to increase numbers. I want everything we do to be part of a singular vision.” She adds that while a lot of folks start blogs in hopes that they will turn into businesses, she started her blog while employed, as a passion project. “For me, it’s an art project that pays the bills—and when it stops feeling that way, I’m retiring and getting another job,” she says.

Yep—she’s a smart cookie.

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