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February 15, 2013

Design*Sponge managing editor Amy Azzarito branches out with her first book, Past and Present. “I love learning about history through objects and design rather than remembering names and dates; it makes more sense to me,” says Azzarito. Her column, “Past & Present,” dives into design history and links it to present day. “Even an object as ubiquitous today as the sofa didn't always exist. Someone had to come up with it first. The fact that our homes didn't always look this way is fascinating to me.”

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  Inlaid Easel designed by Jonathan Anzalone and Joseph Ferriso of Anzfer Farm
This sturdy, practical, modern spin on an old-fashioned easel offers a fashionable way to prop up your iPad, showcase a book or keep to-do lists nearby. “They took something that seemed clunky and old and made it new, vibrant and modern,” Azzarito says. “In the culture of the Renaissance, collection was a part of someone’s identity—to display your knowledge and wealth and good taste. I love the cheeky idea that a cell phone or iPad is a cabinet of curiosity for the modern day person.”
    Inlaid Easel designed by Jonathan Anzalone and Joseph Ferriso of Anzfer Farm This sturdy, practical, modern spin on an old-fashioned easel offers a fashionable way to prop up your iPad, showcase a book or keep to-do lists nearby. “They took something that seemed clunky and old and made it new, vibrant and modern,” Azzarito says. “In the culture of the Renaissance, collection was a part of someone’s identity—to display your knowledge and wealth and good taste. I love the cheeky idea that a cell phone or iPad is a cabinet of curiosity for the modern day person.”
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  Cast Metal Switchplate designed by Colleen and Eric Whiteley
Azzarito asked the furniture designers behind this switchplate to consider the beginnings of modern design. Influenced by the craftsmanship of Wiener Werkstatte, they created a geometric metal case for an everyday light switch. “It’s a great idea for us to remember in our modern lives that everything in design might as well be beautiful, like this average, ordinary thing,” Azzarito says. “It really embodies the philosophy of the movement.”
    Cast Metal Switchplate designed by Colleen and Eric Whiteley Azzarito asked the furniture designers behind this switchplate to consider the beginnings of modern design. Influenced by the craftsmanship of Wiener Werkstatte, they created a geometric metal case for an everyday light switch. “It’s a great idea for us to remember in our modern lives that everything in design might as well be beautiful, like this average, ordinary thing,” Azzarito says. “It really embodies the philosophy of the movement.”
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  Secret Window Cabinet designed by Jean Lee and Dylan Davies by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio
“This is one of my favorite time periods, 18th century France, when some amazing moments in decorative history happened,” says Azzarito. She was struck by what it must have been like to live in that era and the desire people might have had to escape the public eye. Hence, the idea of a hidden furniture cabinet was born. “This medicine cabinet has that same sort of feeling,” she says. “That’s where someone might keep their Chanel No. 5, or beauty creams they don't want their husband to see.”
    Secret Window Cabinet designed by Jean Lee and Dylan Davies by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio “This is one of my favorite time periods, 18th century France, when some amazing moments in decorative history happened,” says Azzarito. She was struck by what it must have been like to live in that era and the desire people might have had to escape the public eye. Hence, the idea of a hidden furniture cabinet was born. “This medicine cabinet has that same sort of feeling,” she says. “That’s where someone might keep their Chanel No. 5, or beauty creams they don't want their husband to see.”
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  Obelish Clock designed by Timothy Liles
These vibrant, Egyptian-inspired clocks are simple and require just a few materials: A clock, Post-it Arrow Flags and a few tools. “The Post-it flags look like an obelisk and the clocks themselves are a nod to the fact that the original obelisks were supposed to honor the sun god Ra,” says Azzarito. “In a lot of ways, our lives are ruled by clocks, in the same way they thought their lives were ruled by the gods. Our god is the clock these days.”
    Obelish Clock designed by Timothy Liles These vibrant, Egyptian-inspired clocks are simple and require just a few materials: A clock, Post-it Arrow Flags and a few tools. “The Post-it flags look like an obelisk and the clocks themselves are a nod to the fact that the original obelisks were supposed to honor the sun god Ra,” says Azzarito. “In a lot of ways, our lives are ruled by clocks, in the same way they thought their lives were ruled by the gods. Our god is the clock these days.”
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  Greenhouse Coffee Table designed by Studio Choo
“I wanted to include something about landscape design in the book,” says Azzarito. “A lot of the designing in our lives happens outdoors. I love greenhouses. But, I live in a Brooklyn apartment and the idea of having a greenhouse is near impossible. I’m also obsessed by terrariums and instead of having a tiny terrarium, with this, you can have a huge greenhouse as your coffee table.”
    Greenhouse Coffee Table designed by Studio Choo “I wanted to include something about landscape design in the book,” says Azzarito. “A lot of the designing in our lives happens outdoors. I love greenhouses. But, I live in a Brooklyn apartment and the idea of having a greenhouse is near impossible. I’m also obsessed by terrariums and instead of having a tiny terrarium, with this, you can have a huge greenhouse as your coffee table.”
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  Jasperware Headboard designed by Eddie Ross
With a nod to 1700s designer Josiah Wedgwood’s jasperware pottery, this headboard is constructed with various moldings and a door. “It’s literal but he made it much larger and grander,” says Azzarito of the striking and unusual headboard. Fun fact: Josiah Wedgwood’s daughter was married to Charles Darwin.
    Jasperware Headboard designed by Eddie Ross With a nod to 1700s designer Josiah Wedgwood’s jasperware pottery, this headboard is constructed with various moldings and a door. “It’s literal but he made it much larger and grander,” says Azzarito of the striking and unusual headboard. Fun fact: Josiah Wedgwood’s daughter was married to Charles Darwin.
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  Branch and Crystal Chandelier designed by Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown
“It looks complicated but it’s actually pretty easy to do,” Azzarito says of this nature-inspired light fixture influenced by the Art Nouveau period. “I love the mix of natural elements with a sparkle, branches and chandelier crystals. That juxtaposition is very modern.”
    Branch and Crystal Chandelier designed by Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown “It looks complicated but it’s actually pretty easy to do,” Azzarito says of this nature-inspired light fixture influenced by the Art Nouveau period. “I love the mix of natural elements with a sparkle, branches and chandelier crystals. That juxtaposition is very modern.”
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  Design*Sponge managing editor Amy Azzarito.
    Design*Sponge managing editor Amy Azzarito.
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Inlaid Easel designed by Anzfer Farm
Inlaid Easel designed by Jonathan Anzalone and Joseph Ferriso of Anzfer Farm This sturdy, practical, modern spin on an old-fashioned easel offers a fashionable way to prop up your iPad, showcase a book or keep to-do lists nearby. “They took something that seemed clunky and old and made it new, vibrant and modern,” Azzarito says. “In the culture of the Renaissance, collection was a part of someone’s identity—to display your knowledge and wealth and good taste. I love the cheeky idea that a cell phone or iPad is a cabinet of curiosity for the modern day person.”

<p>That intrigue prompted Azzarito to take her column one step further and develop it into a book of the same name, <i>Past & Present</i>, set for release on March 1. The subtitle explains the content, “24 Favorite Moments in Decorative Arts History and 24 Modern DIY Projects Inspired By Them.” In the book, artists tackle designs from the past and give them a modern twist. Straightforward directions are included with each project, as well as an educational essay that explains the historical and decorative arts tie-in. Here are some highlights from <i>Past & Present</i>.</p>

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