Slide presentations are fun. I am a liar.

I know it seems like this place is nothing but camp talk lately, and that is because I am in the camp WEEDS lately. Next week I will embark on a dangerous thirteen-day journey to the wilds of San Francisco, where I will hold not one but two design camps. I have a couple of announcements, so I thought I'd hit y'all with a little news update.

1. The San Francisco class size has been upped from 15 to 20. As of right this second, I have one space left for SF I and three spaces left for SF II. I have never had a class this big before, so it's all very exciting. I will be bringing extra rulers for rapping knuckles.

Sign up for SF I (July 21-22)! Sign up for SF II (July 28-29)!

2. Someone has had to give up their spot for the Seattle camp, so there is one spot available. Sad for her, but yay for you! Sign up here.

3. I have been adding some cute things to the Dewit Design Toolkit, but I cannot find a good place to get custom pencils. The last order I placed, from maybe a less-than-reputable company, was lost in the mail and I paid a bunch of $$$ for a great big box of nothing. Sad face. So I am taking suggestions if you have them.

4. This has nothing to do with camp, but four of my friends have recently dropped books, no big deal. Pam. Stephanie. Heather and Jessica. BAM. I know some smart, funny ladies.

5. I hope you have enjoyed my new habit of randomly bolding words. It's too hot to go outside so I am making my own fun, goodbye.


Austin! Dewit Design Camp! Queso! That all happened last weekend. It was magical.

We held Camp in my sweet friend Meredith's studio, basically the most perfect setting ever to have a design camp, what with all the talent and beauty infusing the place.

My favorite thing about Camp is the collaborative nature of the whole thing. We learn so much design stuff the first day it is practically oozing out of ears by afternoon, and then the second day we get to apply that knowledge -- together! -- to everyone's own houses. By "we," I mean "you." And that collaborative spirit was never more evident in Austin, where we nearly had to go into overtime due to excessive ideas and chatter. And that was with only HALF ATTENDANCE, y'all. So much fun. Also, champagne.

What? You don't have jacks and Slinkys at your camp?

Who has the cutest campers? ME. This was right before we trashed Meredith's studio and threw paint all over the walls in a design-induced frenzy.*

Thanks so much to Meredith for the use of her studio, and also to Studio Mucci for hooking me up with the flamazing tissue paper garlands so quickly. Thanks also to Miss Candi B. (pictured far left, being cute), the best intern/assistant/lifter-of-heavy-items ever.

Next up: San Francisco! Get ready.



AuthorAB Chao
Categoriesdesign camp
7 CommentsPost a comment

Prepping for NOLA Camp, trying not to eat all of the chocolate croissants

Hello, hello. I've got a lot to talk about this fine Friday. It seems like this should be another three-day weekend, doesn't it? Let us make it so: everyone call in sick on Monday! If you get in trouble, blame it on me.

First item on the agenda: Camp News!

1. I am looking for an intern-slash-assistant to help me with the Austin Camp. The job is easy PA-type work -- picking up coffee, setting up lunch, opening champagne. You know, the usual. Plus, free camp! If you are interested, please email me with the subject line "Austin Intern." 

2. Speaking of Austin, there are three spots left. I am just telling you. Oh, and a location has finally been chosen! Austin Design Camp will be held at Meredith Pardue's brand new art studio in Davenport Village. You may remember Meredith from such paintings as all of the ones in my house. I tried to make her be my intern, but she said she would be hospitalized for exhaustion at that time. 

3. My two San Francisco camps have been a comedy of errors, what with cancellations, un-cancellations, people switching weekends to be with their friends who can only go on a certain date, pregnant ladies who might go into labor on their weekend, etc. The upshot is, there is now one (1!) spot left for the first SF weekend. The dates are July 21-22. So if you've been waiting to sign up, or waiting for an opening, here's your chance!

4. I have had lots of new signups in the past week thanks to some nice people on the internet, and I just want to say thank you, both to them and to those of you who have signed up, especially if you are new readers! I am super-excited about the remaining camps, and also, thank you for reading! (Quit laughing, Sars.)

Abruptly switching topics, let's discuss the Books I Am Taking to the Beach next week. I don't know if y'all know this about me, but I get excited for the beach kind of like a goldfish gets excited for...well, anything. I forget, then I remember, then I get excited all over again! This happens for approximately three months prior to the actual vacation. Anyway, I have lots of books on my iPad for the trip, but I like to have real live books in my hand for actual beach reading. Sand in your iPad is kind of uncomfortable. So these are the three I've chosen:

1. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I kind of like running, maybe you've heard? This book keeps coming up in nerdy running conversations with my fellow nerdy runners, so it is first up. Don't disappoint me, Murakami.

2. Let's Pretend This Never Happened. Duh. Everyone on the internet has read this one twice already, but I have WILLPOWER, y'all, and I SAVED IT so I would be GUARANTEED a fabulous beach book. You are welcome, Jenny Lawson. I know this is something you've dreamed about.

3. The Sociopath Next Door. You never know! Be prepared. 

The book I am most excited about, really, is the one written by my friend Kelley Lilien. It is a book of COCKTAILS. It is formatted like a SWATCH BOOK. And it is beautiful and filled with fancy beach drinks and I will have them all. Mrs. Lilien's Cocktail Swatchbook, I will conquer you!

OK, so the last thing I want to talk about is something awesome that I am very excited to be a part of. The principal designer of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway here in Monroe asked me and several other designers to collaborate on decorating and styling the house before the tour begins next week. We each chose a room, and I will soon be the proud decorator of a guest bedroom in this really, really lovely house. It's been a huge honor to work on this project, and I can't wait to see the finished house. If you're a local, please stop by and check it out. And then buy a ticket! But try not to buy the winning ticket, because I kind of want to win. Thank you for your cooperation.

That's it, ladies and gentlemen. I'll be back next week with some exciting new content, including the bathroom I've been promising you for weeks now. Probably. If I don't call in sick Monday. Oh, don't get all mad, you're doing it too!

AuthorAB Chao
7 CommentsPost a comment

Oh, hello. Did you enjoy those testimonials? They are all totally real.

I do not even know how to start talking about my first Dewit Design Camp. There are so many things to talk about, and things I am afraid I will forget! The first thing you need to know is that my first camp was in New Orleans, my favorite place, the place we want to live in a few years. And secondly, you need to know that the awesome ladies who attended are all now my new best friends, ready to accept me into their adult ladies' marching dance team the minute the Chaos set up shop in NOLA.

Vince and I arrived a day early to make sure everything was in order (coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, champagne, etc.), to take delivery of rental tables and chairs, and to set up the space for Saturday morning. I don't know how I happened on the most perfect place ever to have a design camp, but I need to give a shout-out here to Caroline Ferguson, Architect and Person Extraordinaire, who let me use her beautiful office as a classroom. When I was in NOLA scouting locations -- unsuccessfully -- and crying in my car, I called her out of desperation (I had copied her number onto a receipt as a last resort). I left a crazy voicemail ("Hi, I am having a design camp in New Orleans, and I kind stalked your office from the street because it looked pretty? So, can I use it for the weekend?"), and Caroline -- who clearly has no regard for her own safety -- called me back. And while she allowed that my call WAS totally weird, she graciously listened and offered me her space and now we are getting married.

Y'all, are the bags + contents not the cutest? For that, we can thank Sydney from Baggu for her help and kindness, and Theresa from Twine and Tape, who not only put together the adorable tape, baker's twine, and mini clothespins for the Dewit Design Toolkits, but who ALSO donated the items for this first class. And to top it off, she's offering a 10% discount to readers who use the code ABCHAO for any order. Yay!

Meanwhile, back at camp: Saturday dawned rainy and dreary, contradicting every weather forecast I had read for weeks before. This caused me to have a series of hissy fit meltdowns involving my ugly hair, stupid flip-flops, and ridiculous long skirt dragging the wet ground. I was just a delight to be around for about thirty minutes there.

Fortunately, I had Eliza -- the human Xanax pill -- with me, and she distracted me with questions about things non-camp-or-rain-related ("Have you seen 'Girls' yet?" "Aren't you so excited about the beach in a few weeks?" "Did you know that the human head weighs ten pounds?"). Following a quick stop at the store (shout out to the Whole Foods on Magazine!) for flowers and juice, it was camp time.

I wanted campers to arrive and know that this weekend was going to be special and amazing, so obviously neon was involved. Also personalized camp pencils/schedules, and their own little flower vases. Oh, and jawbreakers. Jawbreakers are special.

Many of you have heard me talk about my husband Vince, but you've mostly just heard jokes Allison and I have made at his expense. I am here to tell you that I could not have pulled this thing off without him. Vince Chao was part production assistant, part muscle, part emergency technician, and all moral support this weekend. 

He IS one in a billion. (Ha HA! I couldn't resist.)

After everyone had arrived and helped themselves to coffee and delicious pastries, it was time to begin. I started with introductions (mine, of course, and each camper gave their name, city of residence, and childhood best friend). I then launched into a long, long, long (but fun!) slide presentation featuring the things you see in the camp description here. The group was shy at first, but warmed up quickly and started participating and asking questions. (In retrospect, I probably could have served the champagne earlier.)

Above, the campers and I discussing things during the slide show. It was hard for us to concentrate with Sarah's fabulous orange shoes in the room.

I am pretty sure I'm trying to convince someone to do SOMETHING at this moment.

At several points during the presentation, there was some exciting hands-on learning. Here, we are talking about how to draw a layout to scale and I am obviously extolling the virtues of the furniture template. (The furniture template is awesome.)

Cupcake break! I guess cupcakes are now totes passé. That is fine, but I am unapologetic about these particular cupcakes: Sucré forever!

We learned some more stuff, then it was time for another hands-on activity. This time it was learning how to make one ugly grocery store bouquet into several adorable flower arrangements.

 Everyone got REALLY into this project, and into styling the end result. It made me happy like I was their MOTHER at GRADUATION.

And as well I should have been -- look at this beauty that they made!

I then gave a little lesson on how to shoot interiors: wide shots, close shots, pro tips, and mistakes to avoid. Then I quick, quick showed how to style a vignette, because it was almost time to go. 

We finished up the slideshow and Vince Chao served us the champagne he had been secretly icing for us. (I told you he was helpful.)

On Day 2, Sunday, we started with coffee, breakfast, and talking about the pictures that everyone had brought of their own homes. This part of camp was that thing that ends up being everyone's favorite, but you don't realize it until it happens. Seriously, we could have spent five more hours talking and collaborating on everybody's respective rooms. SO MUCH FUN. Check out these people actually paying attention to me like I have something important to say.

After camper house design collaboration fun times, it was time for lunch.

Did I mention we had lunch catered by St. James Cheese Co. on both days? Well, it's true. And it was a thing of beauty.

My sweet group. You never forget your first.

(This wasn't the end of camp: we attempted to go shopping, and when we discovered that all the places were closed for Mother's Day, ended up at Delachaise drinking $5 rosé. Priceless.)

Oh, look, here come a few more testimonials!*

Of course I'm kidding. But here are some actual quotes that are real, and make me real happy:

Dewit Design Camp is the sweetest, coolest, funnest, educationalest, most exciting thing I have ever done, and I am so grateful to all of my NOLA ladies who took a chance and signed up. I want you all to come! So DEWIT.

The next camp is in Austin at the very end of June. Details here. Love y'all!


*All testimonials created by Pamela Ribon, who thinks she is pretty funny.

Well, I am back from my very first Dewit Design Camp, and I am happy to say that, not only did I survive, but that I survived, and it was amazing. It was a word that is better than amazing that hasn't even been invented. It was flamazing, y'all.

Here are just a few pics from the first day. I'll be back later in the week with a real recap and more pics. And maybe some testimonials from my ten new best friends. Thank you all so much for being awesome!

Dewit Design Camp, I love you.

AuthorAB Chao
4 CommentsPost a comment

Hello and happy Monday to you, internet! I have a few items of business to take care of as we start the week.

1. NOLA camp is coming up so fast I can't believe it! I went down for a day last week to finalize our catering + event space, and secured the cutest and best place in the world. It's on Prytania right across the courtyard from St. James Cheese (who will be serving our lunches, yay!), and I am so excited.

2. I've had some NOLA cancellations (damn you, Mother's Day!) so there are 2 spots available. Let's fill them! I know it's short notice, so perhaps a coupon will help? Use code DEWITNOLA to receive 20% off the camp fee. Go go go!

3. I'll be emailing all NOLA campers later in the week, so make sure to check the email account you signed up with or you will miss some pertinent info.

OK, I think that's it! I will now return to creating slides and being nervous. Woo!

AuthorAB Chao

Hello, Dewit Nation! I have some interesting news for you. Please regard:

1. San Francisco Session II is going like hotcakes (mmm, hotcakes) so if you still want in, get on it.

2. Speaking of San Francisco, potential camper Megan B. can only attend SF I due to scheduling conflicts, so if anyone is wiling to trade with her and go to SF II, email me here

3. I have to be honest with y'all, I am a little concerned about Austin. Some cities are just more popular than others, and I cannot explain why. But Austin is coming up fast, and I do not have enough attendees, despite an enthusiastic verbal showing! So if you were thinking about coming or are on the fence or whatever, you need to sign up in the next few days. Come on, Texas, represent! As a former Texan, I will take it personally. And you know you want to spend a weekend having delicious cocktails in the San Jose courtyard (where I'll be staying every second I'm not telling y'all how to dewit). Go.

4. Who wants to have Camp in Chicago? I do. But I am only adding it if Oprah promises to attend.

5. Just kidding. Here you go, Chicago. I hear you're lovely in December. 

In closing, please enjoy this photo of the current state of my bathroom. I am actually kind of in love with that wallpaper -- which I am pretty sure is hand-painted-- I discovered under the drywall. Don't worry, I saved a big old piece.

AuthorAB Chao
16 CommentsPost a comment