thinking about :: how social media changed my life

Another month with five Sundays; another opportunity to deviate from my usual post topics.

This Thursday was Social Media Day. To celebrate, CNN iReport and mashable asked people to submit their stories in answer to the question “How  has social media changed your life?” So I thought I’d share my story with you.

It all started on a Thursday evening in March 2010. My colleagues were heading off the pub after work and wanted to know if was joining them. Sheepishly I admitted I couldn’t, because I was traipsing halfway across London (on my own!) to adrem’s private view of ‘Off the Wall’ – an exhibition of original hand printed wallpapers by a group of East London Printmakers.

Claire Hynds Klecksographien wallpaper

Claire Hynds Klecksographien wallpaper at Adrem's Off The Wall

I was a geek, albeit a design geek which a little bit trendier than your common or garden geek, but still, I didn’t know a soul who had even heard of my design heroes, let alone shared my passion enough to come to wallpaper launch parties with me!

“You should write a blog” joked one of my colleagues, Paul Armstrong.

At least I thought he was joking. It turned out he was deadly serious. He thought people might be interested in my geeky exploits. I wasn’t convinced, but running out of space for business cards, leaflets and exhibition programmes in my tiny flat, I thought he might be onto something – if only as a way of keeping track of my various design-finds. The following week, he talked me through WordPress and helped me set up a twitter account and confessions of a design geek was born.

Immediately I found I was learning more from my design adventures – I was checking facts, researching around my subject – I was hooked. Twitter opened up a new world to me too – rather than waiting anxiously for my monthly dose of Elle Decoration, I had design-goodies appearing on my iPhone by the minute, and was starting to connect with people just like me. I could barely put it down.

Then just six weeks after I had become a blogger, mydeco left this comment on my blog:

Hi Katie,

mydeco launched the Design Democracy Blog Awards, to celebrate and champion amateur and commercial blogger in the interior design space, who are based in Great Britain.

I’ve just discovered your post on Clerkenwell Design Week and I think your blog would be an excellent fit for the awards scheme. We’d be thrilled if you take part in the Design Democracy Blog Awards and submit yourself or a blog you enjoy reading.

Please visit our blog for further details.


Ellen Schaepsmeier – Social Media Marketing Manager

I was staggered, and honoured! My first ever twitter friend Jenny Voyce who writes the wonderful design blog, Design Trends, nominated my blog and I nominated hers… and I had been nominated for a design blogging award! What a coup!

mydeco design democracy awards

mydeco design democracy awards (photograph courtesy of mydeco)

Then I was shortlisted! Voting began in earnest and some very good blogs shot ahead of me; Arianna Interiors shot into the lead. I disappeared off to get married satisfied with that fact I could say I had been shortlisted for the mydeco Design Democracy Blog Awards.

The boy (quite rightly) banned my iPhone from  the honeymoon, so checking twitter as soon as I got off the plane, I saw a tweet from interior designer extraordinaire and one of the panel of judges, Kelly Hoppen, congratulating me. I assumed she must have got it wrong – I had been pretty much in last place when voting closed. I turned my phone off and finished my honeymoon with a lovely day in London with my new husband and headed into work with a weary heart and jet lag on Monday morning.

I arrived to a deluge of emails. I had won! There had been another category for Best Interior Design Blog in Great Britain, not voted for by the public, but by the judges… and they had chosen my blog!

I won!

I won! (photograph courtesy of mydeco)

“This is a wonderful example of how blogging should be, the blogger is clearly passionate about her subject and her writing conveys this enthusiasm to the reader. A great mix of architecture, interiors and creative resources. All in all, a great read” said Kelly Hoppen. And Brad Ford described my blog as “beautifully designed, consistent, thoughtful and a very distinct point of view.”  

I can’t even begin to put into words how it felt to read those comments about my little blog!

Brad Ford presenting the award to a slightly over-excited design geek!

Brad Ford presenting the award to a slightly over-excited design geek! (photograph courtesy of mydeco)

The prize for the four winners was to be the official bloggers for the London Design Festival for both mydeco and the London Design Festival. The London Design Festival had started four days ago – and my best friend’s wedding was the coming weekend! But this was too good an opportunity to miss, so for what remained of the next fortnight, I went to two events per evening, and got into work two hours early to type up my adventures. Battling jet lag and exhaustion I managed to write one post per day of the Festival, despite being away for six of them, surviving on coffee, adrenaline and excitement!

mydeco design democracy award winners

mydeco design democracy award winners (photograph courtesy of mydeco)

At the awards ceremony towards the end of the Festival, I met the other winners; Melissa and Jenny from Puff&Flock, James from WeHeart and Arianna from Arianna Interiors; nominee Carole of Dear Designers, and of course Daniel from mydeco who also writes a blog, atelier tally.  I discovered I wasn’t alone – there were other people who had not only heard of my heroes, but worshipped at the same alters, and thought nothing of trekking half way across London just to see some hand-printed wallpaper – I wasn’t the only design geek!

To keep these wonderful people in my life, I founded the dbcollective, a group of design bloggers who meet monthly to share ideas and inspiration.

dbcollective meet-up (photograph courtesy of Barbara Chandler)

dbcollective meet-up (photograph courtesy of Barbara Chandler)

That group has now grown to 30 members, and includes honorary member Barbara Chandler. We blog about subjects as diverse as food styling and prop sourcing, but our reasons for blogging are remarkably similar.

Wordle showing why dbcollective members blog

Wordle showing why dbcollective members blog

Our meetings give me a regular opportunity to share my passion for design, and learn from other members. Three members of the collective (Arianna, Daniel and Carole) have just founded Home Heart Magazine; showing just what can happen when like-minded people put their heads together.

I now write regularly for the London Design Festival blog and have guest-blogged for the likes of fabric of my lifeThe Foodie Bugle and RedTedArt, and have lots more exciting plans in the pipeline. It was only recently that I remembered my dream as a child was always to be a writer. At the time, I suppose I imagined I’d write books like Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons. But I’ve found my niche and nothing makes me happier than writing about it.

Social media has completely changed my life. It’s provided an outlet for my love of design, connected me to a whole network of design geeks, and helped me to make my childhood dream come true. So all that remains is to say massive thank you to the wonderful Paul Armstrong and to all the other design geeks I’ve met along the way. Here’s to social media!

You may also enjoy:

Further reading for the especially geeky:

6 responses to “thinking about :: how social media changed my life

  1. This is such a nice story Katie. The power of social media to unite like-minded people really is immense. It helps you feel part of a community that is passionate about something rather than a loner with an obsession that nobody else really understands or is interested in. I’m so pleased you started this blog so that other design geeks, like myself, can follow you in your adventures. x

  2. Kelly Hoppen hit the nail on the head – your enthusiasm is present in each post we read, that’s why we like coming back!

  3. What a difference 16 months makes! Well done Katie on your achievements, truly a geek in the nicest possible way x

    • Sam, ‘Chairsmith’, Stacey,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I wasn’t sure whether to post this one, so it’s really encouraging to receive such positive feedback. And thanks for reading!

      Katie xx

  4. I am so proud of my daughter I could burst! Not sure where she inherited her talents from-certainly not me although I love good design. Her enthusiasm for life has always been infectious and nothing she does surprises me! Long may she continue to develop her creative talents. Mum

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