Editor’s Miscellany: The Republic of Design

By Kyle Hoepner

At the end of next week I’ll be headed off to Los Angeles for the second annual Design Bloggers Conference. In addition to reveling in rare pleasures like decent Mexican food and watching the sun set over the ocean rather than rise there, I’ll also have the honor of moderating one of the meatiest sessions at the gathering. (Perhaps it would be more modest to say “what I hope will be one of the meatiest sessionsâ€â€”but I and my fellow panelists are working very hard to ensure that outcome,  so why not brag a little in advance?) The title: “BlogStars: Social Networking, Content, and the Future of Blogs.â€

My co-conspirators in this venture are an impressive trio indeed: Ronda Carman of All the Best, Tobi Fairley of Tobi’s Blog, and Cassandra LaValle of coco+kelley. Three formidable ladies presiding over three quite different kinds of businesses; one operating out of Scotland, one from Arkansas, and one based in Seattle. So what design connections and common ground might they find with the editor of New England Home, I wondered? I did a little online homework to find out. Choosing a few particularly New England-y terms, I started searching my colleagues’ blogs to see what might pop up.

“Yankee†on Tobi’s Blog yielded nary a thing about New England. Instead, up came a tour of New York City’s design scene with…Ronda Carman. (Needless to say, “Yankee†in this post referred to an unmentionable baseball team rather than crotchety old Great-Uncle Ephraim.)

Tobi Fairley, Ronda Carman, and designer Amanda Nisbet; photo courtesy of Tobi’s Blog

“Lobster†on Tobi’s Blog returned a red, white and blue July Fourth post by Scot Meacham Wood (otherwise known as Tartanscot)—who did a pair of guest posts for us, too, only a month later, in August.

Tartanscot at the Lobster Roll Restaurant in Amagansett, New York; photo courtesy of Tobi’s Blog

This made me wonder if Scot would show up on All the Best as well. Answer: yep. Several times, in fact, including in a personal profile and as a winner of the All the Best Bedroom Contest.

Bedroom design by Scot Meacham Wood; courtesy of All the Best Blog

All the Best had a similar profile of Tobi Fairley also, and a reciprocal view of the party in New York.

Do any of these folks look familiar? Tobi Fairley, Michael Devine, Ronda Carman and Thomas Burak; photo courtesy of All the Best Blog

But I was getting distracted; I didn’t mean to be tallying social connections. Back to my mission…

Okay, the ever-trusty “blue and white†came through with a bit of actual design. Coco+kelley had a post on floral patterns:

Photo courtesy of coco+kelley

Then curiosity got the better of me again, and some poking around turned up a different coco+kelley post that included Ronda Carman AND Tobi Fairley AND Scot Meacham Wood—a post, in fact, from last year’s Design Bloggers Conference. (Look carefully and you’ll also see New England Home’s very own Stacy Kunstel in attendance.)

Ronda Carman, Lori Dennis, Tracy Porter, Paloma Contreras, Anne Sage and Cassandra LaValle at the Sferra luncheon at Dawnridge, February 2011; photo courtesy of coco+kelley

So, fairly quickly, my quest for design links transformed into tracing a web of people links.

Lesson: Despite great distances of geography, the real world of style and stylemakers is tight and interconnected. Not really surprising, on reflection, but still instructive: so many names can be found this way so quickly, representing so much of the design that affects us all. Just look at all of the people in the photos above, consider who they are and think where their threads might lead.

The upcoming conference in LA will be, in a sense, a meeting of one particular province of the Republic of Design. How many of you, readers and fellow citizens, will I see there, and how many of us will turn up in one another’s Web searches by this time next year?

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