Book Review: Past & Present by Amy Azzarito

Go and seek the new book from Amy Azzarito, Past & Present! (You may know Amy as the editor of the Design*Sponge website.) It is at once a brief history of furniture and design, as well as a DIY how-to tome of period-inspired projects from guest contributors.

past and present amy azzarito

Past & Present, illustrated by Julia Rothman,
published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.


The projects range from quite easy cardboard constructions, to involved metal casting, furniture building, and even free-weaving on a broomstick! A few of my faves are below:

The cast metal switch plate project, inspired by the Vienna Workshops style. Here Colleen and Eric Whitely design an impressive and precious-looking product from simple available craft materials and metal bismuth/tin alloy. This is one I’d love to try!

switch plate project diy

Another European, early 20th century Bauhaus movement is recalled, and a fun, edgy, handmade curtain is conjured. New York design studio Nightwood presents this assignment. (I have also blogged about these folks before. Check out the Nightmare on Nightwood! post.) Here the activity is inspired by the Bauhaus textile giant Anni Albers – famous for her experimental woven designs. I love the simple materials used: clothesline, your hands making knots, and a broomstick for a loom. It seems fun to imagine the possibilities, that you can fully customize the size and density of your weave – lots of room to improvise!

open weave diy curtain

A project from CONFETTISYSTEM‘s Julie and Nicholas glorifies the glamour of American Art Deco via a shaped mobile! Metallic mylar can be fixed onto simple cardboard constructions to create a stunning display fit for a party or a festive everyday hanging. So sweet!

mobile diy

I appreciate the charming drawings and abbreviated descriptions of bygone times. What’s most striking to me is the originality of the project design. They are all so unique! Within these pages you’ll find instruction on a printed pillow, a plank clock, a hardware store headboard that looks so rich, and design geniuses to teach you!