The Story

Often, serendipity takes you places you've never been or imagined. It was a random blog post, chance encounter, and timely field trip that paved the way for DC's Apartment Therapy Design Evenings (ATDE). As lead organizer, I had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with the Apartment Therapy team, fellow readers, and local design pros to build a diverse community of like-minded enthusiasts.

I co-hosted the first ATDE with my buddies, Residents Understood, after stumbling upon a post on the popular website. Apartment Therapy was experimenting with Meetup's new Everywhere platform and invited readers to start local chapters fashioned after their successful meetup in New York. Did someone say experiment? We gathered a small group for a book exchange, and DC's ATDE was born.

Oddly enough, we met Apartment Therapy founder Maxwell Ryan the following night at Room and Board's grand opening. Excited to see his idea take flight, he chatted with us well beyond the obligatory exchange. The interruptions were persistent, guests pulling him here and there; "important" introductions; photo ops. Despite the hubbub, he continued to speak with us. His enthusiasm became my enthusiasm. I committed to making the fledgling meetup a success.

Months later, I found myself at Meetup headquarters in Soho–a dream, really. Happenstance brought me to New York the very same day as a meeting between Maxwell and the Everywhere Team.  I shared insights and experiences that, at least in a small way, would help shape the platform. Several weeks later, I was back in the City, as they call it, to attend a meetup and observe Apartment Therapy's approach in action. Special Guest: Jonathan Adler.

In the year to follow, DC's ATDE grew from a handful to hundreds. Booking speakers, securing venues, and spreading the word became a monthly ritual. I tried my best to recreate the warm and welcoming vibe that I experienced in New York. It was my way of democratizing design, a labor of love sustained by design talk, an amazingly supportive network of friends, and serendipity at its best.

The Images

The Details

Speakers. Jill Sorensen, Supon Phornirunlit, Alex Sanchez, Eric Kole, Zoe Feldman, Nadia Subaran, Judith Carrig, Leah Moss, Jill Martin, Kelley Proxmire, Suzanne McLees, Michael Shapiro, Rob Chapman, Gregg Deal, and Lauren Liess

Venues. Sukio Design Boutique, Policy Restaurant & Lounge, CB2, and The Dunes

Photographers. Heather Soskin, Kate Warren, and Rachel Wimberley Wagner