Yo, what's up, Internet? It's Monday. I have some camp notes. Let's get to it:

1. Last week, after Alt, I held a mini design camp in Salt Lake City at a nice person's house. It was so much fun -- a small, funny, sweet group of ladies attended, and there were many fun times and drinking of champagne and learning of things. Also: RIBS.

Heather's friend Kate -- along with her adorable husband -- fixed us the most amazing lunch of ribs, macaroni & cheese, and salad. Oh, and some kind of crazy double chocolate chocolate chip (with a side of chocolate) cookies. Thank you so much, Kate! I hope to one day return the favor, in the form of a pony, or a big box of money, or maybe a BRAND NEW CAR.

Campers + Chuck + Coco = LOVE 4 EVER. Photo by Intern Beth.

Another huge thanks to Heather, Tyrant, and Intern Beth + Zac Efron.

2. Los Angeles is this weekend, what what! And I want you all to be there. Would you like to be there? Would you like 15% off? Then please accept this coupon code: DCLA15. Thank you. I accept you.

3. Due to circumstances beyond my control, Dallas has been put on hold until further notice. It IS happening -- it's just not happening on March 2. Please accept my deepest apologies, and watch this space for updates.

4. Thank you to everyone who has signed up for camp this year! I am so excited about you. And, hey, Denver, Boston, and Minneapolis: see you SO SOON!

5. Speaking of those three cities, I am still working out details and scouting spaces. Can you help? Do you want to intern? Would you like to work together to promote your company + make camp pretty? Get at me.

AuthorAB Chao
Categoriesdesign camp
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Hello! Thank you all for participating in the Rivet & Sway vote + giveaway. First up, the frames y'all selected for Madeleine: PUNCHLINE!

And by quite a wide margin:

So, congratulations, Punchline! You are now the proud owner of Madeleine's face.

And now, the winner of the giveaway...

Katie T., of comment #3! Congratulations, Katie! I will be emailing you soon.

Thanks to Rivet & Sway for their amazing generosity, and thanks again to everyone who participated! This was so much fun.

AuthorAB Chao
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Teenagers. They want everything, and they want it now, and they want you to pay for it. So when my daughter Madeleine -- who has long been opposed to appearing on this website -- found out she could get some new glasses just for having her picture taken, she was suddenly VERY INTERESTED in appearing on this website. And, guess what? I'm giving a pair away to one of y'all, too! Hooray!

I am so pleased to be working with Rivet & Sway for this giveaway -- I love the company and its inspiring story about figuring out who you want to be. And now, we get to help Mad choose the kind of glasses she wants to be (wearing on her face). All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment with your vote for which frames she should choose. I will pick a comment at random next week, and announce the winner and the winning frames of Madeleine then, too. Fun! Let's do this.

Punchline: Whether it’s Babs singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade!,” Liz Lemmon’s dating disasters or every single second of Madeline Khan in Blazing Saddles, funny girls are the ideal meld of beauty and brains. With bold angels and fearless personality, The Punchline nails home your message with class.

Spitfire: Our homage to the strong women of the world who speak their minds, aren’t afraid to stand up for what’s right, and live large and loud. The Spitfire’s bold and progressive style is a definitive look for the woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it.

Poetic License: Dedicated to all the artists, poets and culture-bending creatives who’ve changed the world with their fresh perspectives and vibrant approach. Round frames have come full circle again, and our Poetic License is ready to inspire a new generation of visionaries to speak their truth.

So, what say you, Internet? You have until Friday at midnight EST to cast your vote. Leave your big opinions in the comments!  

PS. A big thank you to Rivet & Sway for being awesome!

AuthorAB Chao
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My hotel room, Chicago 2012

Happy weekend, friends! Just a few things before I shut it down for the week and open this bottle of wine.

1. There are two (2) spots left for the SLC Mini Camp. Hurry, hurry! It's in two (2) weeks!

2. Many of you have written to ask when I will be scheduling the rest of the locations I mentioned in the cities announcement post -- Atlanta, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Vancouver. If I have not scheduled them yet, that means they will all take place in late summer/early fall. So don't worry, they are still happening! I just don't know when yet.

3. I am sad about it, but I may have to cancel the Dallas Mini, due to a scheduling conflict with a certain high school senior's crazy schedule. I may add it back in the summer/fall, but honestly there hasn't been much interest in Texas in general, so maybe it's for the best. 

4. I'm looking for a) an event space and b) an intern for both Los Angeles (Feb 9-10) and Denver (Mar 23-24). If you have information regarding these items, please leave it in the comments or email me

5. Tomorrow, a big group of DC campers are getting together for brunch and shopping. They have been so good about staying in touch with each other, and even made themselves a little Facebook group to discuss such important subjects as cardboard unicorns and rug sales. Would any of you former (and future!) campers like for me to make a group like that for y'all? I can't decide whether it should be city-specific or just one big amalgamated party. Thoughts? Opinions? Give it to me.

And now, some lovely photos from the Chicago camp, which seems like a hundred years ago now.

We Are The Barkers' studio. Such a great place to have camp. Thanks, Barkers!

I did a little contest for the first time ever, and these cute Ban.do hearts were the prizes. The questions were hard, too, like, "What is my favorite color of white paint?" 

Please note random football stuck behind pipe on studio wall.

Cake balls! I have never had a cake ball in my life. They were pretty good.

Special guest Nicole answered lots of Chicago-related questions, and also revealed her talent for magic tricks. Just kidding, I have no idea what she is doing here.

What a cute group. Thanks, Chicagoans, for an amazing mini camp in your fair (windy) city!


Want to come to camp? Of course you do!




AuthorAB Chao
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DC Camp: How can I describe its awesomeness? First of all, Tabula Rasa provided the incredible space. If you need to have an event in DC and you like all-white palettes and beautiful things and a stocked champagne refrigerator, this is your place. They even had overhead lights to match our mood (a sort of pinkish-purple, which is why all of my inside shots have a crazy white balance. I love it.)

Oh yeah, and the campers were pretty good, too.

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Pictured above foreground, left and right: Beth and Kristen, who had absolutely no business helping me as much as they did -- Kristen sent me a bazillion informational emails before camp that I could not have lived without, and Beth a) brought me a gift, b) helped clean up EVERYTHING, ALL OF THE TIME, and c) deposited me safely to my hotel one particularly boozy night. I'll say only that it involved sake oyster shots. Let us never speak of it again.

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InkKit sent some adorable gift packs for the girls. More on her great shop later. 

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The food was incredible, and all within spitting distance of our space: Pizza from Matchbox, homemade pop tarts from Ted's Bulletin, cupcakes from The Sweet Lobby, coffee from Firehook, banh mi from Pho 14, and random Japanese snack we found in a drawer. 

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If you look closely, you can see our Mimosa "Be Brave" necklaces, this time in RED. Love. Also, Amy's arm. I am certain she was explaining something life-changing.

Below: In between all the fun and food and good times, I like to teach stuff. Here, we're learning how to hang art properly. It's important, y'all.

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Before we got started on Sunday morning, Jennifer expressed a deep longing to learn to saber a bottle of champagne. Naturally, we obliged. You can't turn that kind of life lesson down.

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Flower arranging contest: ON. First I showed the class how to do it...

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Then I divided them up into two ridiculously competitive teams. Seriously, there was not even a prize for this and these ladies acted like it was the final challenge on Survivor.

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They're both so cute. Can you even tell who won? Hint: It was the team with the flower-eater.

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What is camp without awesome props and sponsors? Katey and Chris from The Society of Natural Industry sent a custom-painted string of lights that was so beautiful it is now hanging in my house. 

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I am no longer able to hold a camp without my stash of PomLove confetti. It just can't be done.

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I'd like to thank Mad and Vince Chao for sharpening ALL of those pencils, and Knot & Bow for the cute twine I tied them together with.

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I spray-painted some antlers before camp and brought them with me in my luggage. Don't ask me how, because it is a secret.

Antler styling: me. Neon string, Mason jar, and flower styling: Amy, who is craftier than she lets on; and Camille, my actual intern who was actually awesome in every way. In addition to being a delight to be around, Camille runs 50 miles a week with her rescue pit bull, and volunteers at a stable teaching disabled children to ride horses. So, she is obviously some sort of do-gooder alien sent here to make us feel inferior.

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Baggu bags, this time with foxes and alpacas! I think these are my favorite ones we've ever had.
When we got ready to take our group picture, something awesome happened. I'll just let these photos speak for themselves.
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I guess it's a good thing Beth likes dogs. Clearly that dog couldn't resist this adorable group.

And that was DC camp! I'm sure the girls will fill y'all in on anything I missed in the comments: they're a gregarious bunch. I love them. Thank you thank you thank you for being a part of this, ladies.

Anyone else want to come to camp? Well, you're in luck, because I'm going to tell you next year's cities TOMORROW. Whee!

AuthorAB Chao
Categoriesdesign camp
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Welcome to the first installment of Ask AB! I think I have, like, sixty-something questions to work through, so here are the first...three. Yeah. This is going to take a while. Anyway, please enjoy this small sampling. There's more to come. Much, much more.

Elizabeth asks:

You mentioned at the Austin camp that you were contemplating making an iced coffee how-to video, or did I dream that?

Yes, Elizabeth, I did mention that. And I'd like to show you this video to illustrate why it has taken so long.

There are a lot like this. A WHOLE LOT. (But yes, it's coming soon, and it is sure to be as entertaining as it is educational.)


Amy asks:

Is it OK to hate throw pillows? I mean, I love how they look, but hate sitting on a chair with them so they always end up in a pile on an unused chair. I just want to get rid of them. But chairs/couches need some oomph so should I just get over it?! UGH.

Lots of people hate throw pillows, Amy. They are not really comfortable for leaning against or sitting near. So, in the words of the inimitable Caity Weaver: THATZ OKAY.

One thing you can do to make your throw pillows not so annoying, though, is to change out any poly-fill inserts to down inserts. Your pillows will be squishier and so much nicer to lean against. Also, they will have a better shape AND down inserts respond really well to the decorator karate chop. You know, like this:

Photo: Jamie Meares, who has been killing it lately, BTW.


Teresa asks:

You and Lori Andrews (The 10 Cent Designer) seem to be experts in the effortless looking shirt partial-tuck. Do you have any basic guidelines to determine where to tuck or how much of the tail should be tucked? This seems like a very dumb question I'm sure, but I always feel disheveled or sloppy when I try it.

I am a fan of the half-tuck, but I think it only really works for super-casual outfits. My method involves a) doing it only with t-shirts, b) while wearing a belt, and c) only tucking a little bit. If you go too crazy -- like tucking in only one side of a button-down -- it can look weird and dumb.

Perhaps Miss Lori can add to this in the comments -- she is the real expert. I mean, come on. This is GOOD:

Photo: Lori Andrews

AuthorAB Chao
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You may recall a design I did for a local client a while back: it was for a young boy's room, and I posted the design board here, and it seems like that was a million years ago. Anyway, the little boy was really into maps and space, so I just kind of went for it with that in mind. Oh, and he wanted bunk beds BAD.

I convinced the kid's mom to go super-dark on the walls and ceiling, and we decided to design the room around a vintage map of India I found on Etsy (which would not only be a nod to the family's Indian heritage, but also be really cool, because vintage maps are really cool).


This room is one of a very few that I have done that somehow look exactly like their design boards. It's really extra-satisfying when that happens, because it means you've gotten exactly what you wanted, design-wise, and also that you are a brilliant genius. Just kidding.

The wall color is Farrow & Ball Plummett. The ceiling color is Farrow & Ball Down Pipe. The pendant light is a Nelson saucer lamp, and the orange chair is a Saarinen reproduction. The zebra rug, which is basically the only thing that was already in the room, is made of wool and is from Target from a long time ago. I wish it were still available. Bring back your wool zebra rug, Target! The map is vintage, from the adorably-named Midwest Splendor.

The bed is from Restoration Hardware. The bedding is from Pottery Barn. The striped wool blanket is from Hudson's Bay. The desk was custom-made from pine and lacquered to within an inch of its life. The desk chair is vintage, from my own plentiful collection of Eames desk chairs (my garage is full of them, please don't rob me in the night).

The globe, pencils, and bear erasers are the client's own, and are kind of my favorite part of the room. You erase with the bear's NOSE, y'all.

The London double-decker bus and Big Ben figure are from the child's collection (he is very into London things, also). The elephant print is of Hindu Lord Ganesha: Remover of Obstacles and Lord of Beginnings! I love him and that print is just gorgeous. The log side table is from Paul Michael. The curtains are white linen, from Gray Line Linen.

Wouldn't you love to wake up in this cozy bunk every morning? I would. I'm so happy to have gotten to decorate this room, and I hope the family loves it as much as I do. (What? I can be schmoopy too.)

Happy Friday, y'all!


All photos by the incomparable Ben Corda.

AuthorAB Chao
13 CommentsPost a comment