Hey, hey! If you would like to attend an upcoming design camp and would like a coupon code and to enter a giveaway, scroll yourself down to the bottom!

This recap is a two-parter. First up: ATL Mini Camp! This one was historic, featuring two of my oldest friends, and our first guy camper, hooray!

We found the camp space via AIRBNB, what are the odds? It was beautiful and natural light-y and the perfect size for our design-learning needs. I also got all crafty and made some tassel balloons and fringed garland. That was fun for about five minutes, but the effort paid off in festiviosity.

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My campers take good notes, even though they receive a PDF full of notes after camp. They're quite studious.

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For a special treat, Ally of From The Right Bank was kind enough to come give a lunchtime talk about Atlanta-based design stuff. She is very adorable and tiny and smart. Thanks, Ally!

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As if that weren't enough, my beloved Ben Corda drove over from his new town in Tennessee, took photos all day, held a little photography seminar for us, AND took fun portraits of everyone after camp (see below). That boy is truly the best, I don't care what his mom says about him.

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Ben Corda may or may not have been hungover at this time.

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A sampling of Ben's portraits. At left: Allison, feigning surprise that she got roped into acting as intern for the day.

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Sisters!

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How cute is this ATL group? Look at them, all smiles, even with their brains falling out from listening to me yammer about paint colors for eight hours.

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Next up: Boston! I can't remember how I found Michael Warren and his incredibly gorgeous 110k Studios, but I am so glad I did. Michael was lovely and generous with his time AND equipment -- he loaned me a camera after I realized I'd forgotten mine. We are now in love and I'm planning to move into his studio in the fall. 

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My Boston campers were so much fun, and also featured new friends. Here, they're learning "50 Ways To Dewit." Shut up, it's not dirty.

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Camp goodies! The ever-present "Be Brave" prints courtesy of Holly from her shop, Charm & Gumption. My best pals at Illume sent a box of gorgeous candles that I nearly kept for myself. And sweet Emily from Clementine put together an adorable gift package, including a tote bag, a note card, and a handmade bookmark. Stop being so awesome, y'all. (Please don't stop.)

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Audra, with her giant brain, clearly using some vocabulary I have never heard.

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Oh, hey, did you want Homemade Rice Krispy treats with rainbow sprinkles? Why didn't you come to camp, then?

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Michael had this photo hanging on the back wall of his studio. Mardi Gras dog, I love you.

Two of the campers work at Lindt. They brought bags and bags of delicious chocolate. I am sorry, but I ate it all.

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Michael also held a super good-time portrait session at the end of camp. How do I keep getting so lucky, I ask you? It was so much fun. There are tons more pics at the AB Chao Design Camp FB page

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This is Janelle. She was at Boston camp and has good hair. Janelle would like you to know that, if you sign up for camp in the next week, you will receive a 10% discount with the coupon code DESIGNCAMP10.

ALSO! GIVEAWAY! At the end of next week (Friday, June 28), I will choose a random registrant who will win a free pass to design camp. You can use the pass for yourself, or bring a friend! All you have to do to enter is sign up for any upcoming camp, here. And don't forget to use your coupon code: DESIGNCAMP10.

GO TO CAMP: PHILLY MINI (JULY 13)  |  DENVER MINI (JULY 27)  |  MINNEAPOLIS (AUG 3-4)

 

All photos: Ben Corda and Michael Warren.

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Oh, my LA girls, how I miss you. It's been over a month and I can still see your shining faces.

We had camp in North Hollywood, at the offices of Click Communications, which is basically the cutest office space ever. And North Hollywood! You impressed me. I had no idea.

The sweet people at Illume sent over these beautiful Boho Candles from their new collection. That was the best-smelling camp I've ever held, and I will tell you that for free. I am kind of in love with all of them, but Desert Tulip and I have a special connection.

I also bought the cutest birch paper straws for our drinks. Paper straws are terrible for iced coffees, but no one cared because they were high on candle wax.

"Dude. I'm so high right now. Yo, pass me another straw."

My lovely intern Erin owns a textile + home goods company called Cotton and Flax. Along with being awesome, she brought these beautiful postcards she designed. She brought four different designs, and there may have been some fighting.

I switched it up this time and took a break from my good old Baggu bags. These cutie Eames rocker totes were made locally in LA by Daisy-Alexandra and David of Feeding Birds Boutique. Those two could not have been more pleasant to work with, and I'm excited to use their company again for future camps.

Someone brought mustache stickers. That + mimosas = inevitable silliness. 

None of these ladies is paying attention, because they are all drunk on candles, straws, and mustache stickers.

Erin of the postcard wars. 

An entire wall of the space was made of whiteboard, which made for some good breaktime fun. Check out Super Chao up there. I think she's pretty accurate.

Since it was Mardi Gras weekend, I brought beads from home to toss at the class. We also had my favorite king cakes of all time delivered from Sucré in NOLA. I don't remember who got the baby, but I do remember that they were very confused.

Pimm's Cups! Another special Louisiana thing in honor of Mardi Gras.

My sweet LA ladies, looking cute.

And then you know we had to flash that LA gang sign.

 

Do YOU want to come to camp? Of course you do! Register here:

April: ATLANTA MINI | BOSTON

May: MINNEAPOLIS

June: BERLIN 

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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!

January: SALT LAKE CITY MINI

February: LOS ANGELES

March: DENVER

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How great is this? Vanessa, the inventor of these, rush-shipped it because she is awesome.

 Portland was my very first mini design camp. I did not know what to expect. I want to do it again.

We somehow crammed two days worth of information into one extended day (the fact that there was no individual instruction helped). It was a lot to take in, but these girls were quick studies.

I became best friends with Lia, the owner of the campsite studio and also the fabulous shop Ellinee, and I am so grateful that she was sweet enough to offer to let me mess up her impeccable studio for a day. (PS, don't miss her blog, it is awesome.)

Seriously, Portland. The birds.

After much learning, it was hands-on flower and photography fun times. I split the girls into two factions, and there was much competition over who would cut/arrange/style/photograph the best. One team ended up using baker's twine and washi tape as props, creating the most Portland-y twee vignette the world has ever known. It was amazing.

Goodie bag contents included such items as glow sticks and Slinkies, and the aforementioned tape/twine combo. Another big thanks to Katnawlins for the beautiful cards!

Some of the campers' Instagram photos from the day. See them all here. PS, how cute is Lia's dog? He was a mess.

In closing: I love mini camp, I love Portland, I love Lia, I love dogs, I love my intern Sarah (not pictured because she was BUSY), and I especially love everyone who came. Y'all are my favorite. See, I told you I said that after every camp.

I couldn't resist one more photo of Portland's coffee. And chocolate sprinkle donuts, OK!

Want to come to design camp and learn stuff? There are three left this year -- NYC, DC, and Chicago. Go get your spot!

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Every time I have a design camp, I tell the class that they are my favorite class I've ever had. And it's true; my favorite class is always the most recent. This year's Seattle camp -- and oh, yes, I will be going back -- is no exception.

FIRST OF ALL: We had camp at The Pantry at Delancey, in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle (I'm, like, a native now.). Located behind the equally amazing Delancey restaurant, The Pantry is a beautiful, light-filled space with a full kitchen, where cooking classes are often held.  

I am happy to say that they also allow other kinds of classes there, because I cannot imagine a better place in Seattle to have a design camp.

Full kitchen bonus: real cups and saucers for our morning coffee.

Also, an herb garden outside. I was in Seattle last year at this time, and I still couldn't believe that the flowers/herbs/etc were still going! My herbs went to seed ages ago, and I do not even want to talk about the sad shape my flowers are in.

My campers have an astounding array of cute bags.

AB Chao has an astounding array of things she likes to stand on to take pictures. Megan was so worried I was going to fall that she almost couldn't take this photo. Somehow, we both survived.

I had so many sweet offers for goodie bag contents this time around.  Katie at katnawlins sent these gorgeous Laissez Les cards (the rest is just lagniappe, y'all.). I nearly hoarded them all for myself, but I practiced restraint and handed them out. Aren't they fabulous?

PomLove sent -- nay, rush made and shipped -- the tassel garland and gold confetti.

Camp itself was great, as always -- the first day we concentrated on a bunch of learnin', and the second day we applied that learning to each other's actual houses. Also, we arranged flowers and then took pictures of them.

And then, as ever, we drank champagne.

A super special and heartfelt thanks to The Pantry at Delancey, who not only extended to me their space for two long days, but also Paige, pictured below left. Oh, you don't know Paige? She's only the most amazing thing to hit Seattle since beer-boiled pretzels. Paige made my job so easy it was like I was actually on vacation. AT MY JOB.

Another super special thanks needs to go out to Megan "American Spirit" Reardon, my Seattle taxi and iced-coffee-provider; and to Jessica, my intern and now friend, who somehow doesn't have a blog. GET A BLOG, JESSICA.

Oh, also! Thanks to Picnic for the lunches, which were so good I'm still talking about them days later. Piquillo peppers + brie + arugula, WHAT?

My cute group. PS, one of these girls had a baby the next day. It's true! Babies like to stay inside for camp.

And now, a few more instagrams from the weekend.

 

The bottom two photos are from Essex, Delancey's new bar. We went there after camp both days. If you go there, order the Queen Mary and don't regret it for a minute.

Next up: Portland!

All photos: AB Chao and Megan Reardon

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A couple of weeks ago I left the comfort of sweltering Louisiana for lovely San Francisco, where I held TWO design camps on back-to-back weekends. Two. Two camps. You know what is a lot of camps? Two.

It wasn't that the camps themselves were hard -- on the contrary, they were both awesome. Amazing. An extraordinary person. It was that I was gone from home for thirteen days, which is about ten days too long for my taste. My dad's motto about fish and visitors going bad after 3 days also holds true for travellers, I'm afraid. Luckily, I had Maggie Mason on my side (literally: the girl shared her BED with me), and not only was she a lovely and gracious host, but if she got sick of me at any point, she did not let on. That girl is a keeper. (A keeper who snores.)

Also a keeper: the southern California weather I enjoyed my first week there. I know! In San Francisco! It was a sunny, glorious miracle.

Also ALSO a keeper: Jordan Ferney, whose gorgeous studio was camp headquarters, and who didn't even complain about keeping all my extra stuff there during the interim week. (Including a case of champagne, which I was hoping she'd mistake for sparkling water, get hammered on, and post Drunk Mormon photos all over the internet. Alas. Next time.)

One camper -- now my favorite camper ever -- brought ice cubes made of orange juice from her own yard for our Sunday morning mimosas. Good work, Cynthia. You're invited to all camps, forever.

Apparently I do this hand movement a lot. I only know this because sweet Victoria came in one Saturday to take pictures for me (the ones you're seeing here!), and I'm making this gesture in fully 99% of them. It obviously makes all the design knowledge I'm dropping sink in better.

See all the learning that is happening? I'm probably making the hand gesture. Or maybe I'm making this face:

Tell me you don't want to learn interior design from this person.

One of my Session One campers was Miss Lisa Congdon, who made me the painting you see above. It's my quote for what I think should be in every room, and she liked it. So she painted it and gave it to me, and then I cried. Lisa is super mean.

I made New Orleans-style iced coffee every day of camp, which involved many hijinks/shenanigans/etc, including my total overreaction to the fact that Blue Bottle wouldn't grind the coffee I bought from them. Y'all, I was so outraged. We Southern ladies are not used to people ignoring our charming accents, Blue Bottle was NOT HAVING IT, and I had maybe a little fit in the car afterwards. I'm sorry, Blue Bottle. I still love you and your delicious coffees.

Speaking of which, the iced coffee was so popular that I am thinking of doing a little video tutorial on how to make it. Vince Chao has offered to a) film it, and b) write some acoustic guitar backing music for it. Because every coffee tutorial needs an acoustic guitar soundtrack, AM I RIGHT?

If you come to camp you will learn how to make a houseful of adorable arrangements out of one bunch of supermarket flowers. See above.

The only known camp photograph of me where I'm not making The Gesture.

The flower and vignette-making tutorial often turns into a how-to-shoot-interiors lesson, and everyone gets really excited about their cameras.

One particularly perceptive camper from the first week mentioned that it would have been nice to have a fruit or vegetable somewhere in my snack plan. As if potato chips and burritos weren't enough, I am so sure. But she was right, because this basket of apples was quite a hit the second week. You live, you learn, you arrange apples in straight lines.

My campers are all adorable. Don't argue, you know it's true.

I also need to thank Maggie for her generous milk bottle/Mason jar donation. Camp would definitely not have been as cute without them. Also, Maggie, I'm sorry I told everyone you snore up there. I couldn't help myself.

Here is where I need to thank my fabulous and over-the-top-assisty interns, Traci (Week 1) and Hannah (Week 2). Those girls went so above that beyond wasn't even visible anymore. They tied ribbons on things, hauled ice, arranged sandwiches, went out for emergency popsicles, and served as all-around moral support during my more -- how shall I put this? -- NUTSO moments.

HAND GESTURE.

So, yay for San Francisco design camp! I had so much fun, and I hope everyone learned some good stuff. I know I did. I also know I'll be back as soon as possible, because San Francisco is my new favorite city.

Do YOU want to go to camp and have a person teach you design-y things while making wild hand gestures? You can! Seattle is up next, in September, and I am so excited about it. That one is unfortunately sold out*, but spots are still available in NYC, DC, and Chicago. So get on it, future amazing DIY designers! I would love to see you there. Especially if you bring orange juice ice cubes.

*PS. Speaking of Seattle, I'm only scheduled to be there for the weekend, but I have had several requests for Portland, and could maybe pull off a mini-camp there during the week. If anyone is into that, let me know, and I will try to make it happen! (This is mainly because I have never been to Portland and want to put a bird on something.)

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.