In Profile: Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo of ABCD Design

December 6, 2010

Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo of ABCD Design

Aren’t you always looking to meet inspiring people?  Thought so.

Today marks the first ever profile on 5thjoy.  I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo – that’s right, folks, her initials really are ABCD – of ABCD Design for the inaugural visit.

Amy talks us through her roots, career path, décor favorites and pet peeves, how to tweet, and why you might want to offer her a glass of varm milk or Ovaltine.  (It’s always a good sign when someone’s a Young Frankenstein fan.)

If there’s a creative field involving décor, food, or flowers, chances are Amy’s mastered it.  She’s a sparkling star on Twitter, where she paired up with interior designer Jonathan Legate to create #DesignTV, a weekly chat about all things décor, and the occasional lively discussion of what participants wish were on HGTV.

To chime in, just add the #DesignTV hashtag to your tweets Mondays from 11:30-1:30 Eastern. Today’s topic is holiday décor, which is why Amy’s sharing pictures of her holiday decorations from years past throughout the interview.

Curious how she made snow globes, peacock feathers, stacked spools of yarn and multicolored lights spell Christmas? Hop onto the #DesignTV chat today from 11:30-1:30 and ask her.

•     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •

Name: Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo

Occupation: Artist, Designer, and owner of ABCD Design.

Location: New York City and the Hills of Connecticut


Q. You’ve crafted a multi-pronged career (stylist, interior designer, flower arranger, graphic designer, chef) in an age when everyone seems to crow about the need to find a niche.  What advice do you have for others with multiple strengths?

I have to admit, it is a blessing and a curse all at once! I have always followed whatever path that (at the time) people are willing to pay for and that I am interested in putting my creative efforts into.

I originally came to NYC to attend culinary school. That led to a job in event planning, styling, and management. After 911,  there was a drought in events and I started taking freelance floral and window display and styling jobs. It was a natural evolution for me. I am a big believer that you can apply the same elements of design to just about any art form. It is about color, balance, unity, flow, texture – no matter whether you’re preparing a beautiful plate of food, designing a sculpture of flowers, working on graphic designs, or selecting furniture for a room – one employs all the same techniques to create a visually pleasing finished product.

Q. Tell us about where you came from and how your life experiences impact your style.

I grew up in suburban Detroit. You’ve heard of 8 mile, right? Well, I grew up at 26 mile. At the time, my little town was surrounded by Farms. There was a Main Street downtown where most of the buildings were original, from the early 1800’s. I was brought up with an All-American, wholesome, mid-western mentality.

When I was a girl, each summer, we shared a cabin with another family. The woman was a buyer for Dayton Hudson. She absolutely influenced my design sensibility. There were collections artfully displayed all over the cabin. She had an eclectic mess of lovely furniture from all different eras that effortlessly just ‘went’ together. It was a 70’s modern house that was spattered with stain glass windows. It had barnwood beam rafters. It was truly the perfect combination of modern and rustic. The cabinets were made from barnwood and were jam packed with vintage china. There were collections of Peruvian textiles under glass, framed in the master bathroom, and a collection of heart shaped rocks she found on the shores of Lake Michigan adoring the fireplace mantle. She repurposed vintage all over the house. The coffee table was a shipping crate, the front door of the cabin was an old NYC apartment door with the number 9 on the front. This might not sound innovative now, but this was the early 80’s and back then, it was pure magic.

Q. When did you know you were creative?

When I was a young girl, I spent far more time designing the layout of Barbie’s furniture than I ever did roll playing with her. I was always into drawing, and collage. I had one piece that I worked on that took up an entire wall in my mom’s basement. I always wanted to make and create things.

Q. Where do you see ABCD Design in five years?

I have a fantasy of making ABCD more of a brand, with products that I have had a hand in creating. I suppose I have laid the groundwork for this by making my design sensibilities known to the people who read my blog and follow my tweets.

Since I was a small girl, I have always wanted to design dresses. However, my studies were more focused on textiles for the home. I am longing, (now that I am spending so much time in Connecticut) to get out my sewing machine and knitting loom again. Who knows what wild ride that might take me on!?!


Q. In terms of interior design, what do you see going on now that excites you?

Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I am excited about the Slow Home and Slow Design movement. I am really excited to see people writing about heirloom furniture and eco-conscious choices in interiors.

I am also pretty interested in this warm/modern look that seems to be seeping into the design world. I’m also delighted to see lines like The New Traditionalists showing up on the scene. They’ve got a modern take on traditional design that is both handsome and timeless.

Q. Which design trends do you predict will fall out of favor?

Damask. You know that look I am talking about – think: Brocade Home. I am completely over it. That look screams 2006, and I’d like to think it has run it’s course.

Q.  What elements make a room sing?

Collections, art, and the decorative items that reflect the homeowner’s distinct personality.

Q. The New York City apartment you lived in and designed got a ton of buzz (for good reason) and still regularly appears on blogs.  You’ve moved on to new projects now, namely renovating a house in the country. Can you tell us about your current design direction?  How has your personal style evolved?

Well, I am not reinventing the wheel, I am working with what I have. I am the sort that would rather live without a dining room table for 3 years until I find the exact one I want, and then I will keep it for my entire adult life. I like to live with what I love, and the things that I decorate my home with are an amalgamation of items I have collected throughout my life. Of course, I like to play with color in different ways, but I always keep the palette neutral and add pops of color through scatter pillows, accessories, and artwork that can be switched out far easier than an upholstered or case piece can be.

Q. What are your favorite sources for offbeat home accessories?

Paula Rubenstein in Soho, 145 Antiques in Chelsea, Leo Designs and The End of History in the West Village.


Q. You’re a social medium maven.  How do you carve out time for Twitter?

I like it so much! I have met so many interesting people and the coolest doors have been opened to me through it. The question is: why NOT Twitter?

Since 2006, I have been working in graphic design, doing the wedding stationery suites for brides. It’s easy to have a window open on Twitter and switch back and forth between windows on the computer.

Recently I have been branching out, going back to my roots. I have been overseeing our home renovation and taking more floral design projects. I’ll admit, when you’re not glued to the computer screen, it’s a little more difficult to keep up with.

However, I love my blackberry and I tweet when I am waiting in line for coffee, or for the ‘don’t walk’ sign to switch. Heck, I even tweet from the stepper at the gym.

Q. What is your best advice about using Twitter?

Be authentic. Be yourself – your nicest self. Remember that there are other people who are receiving your tweets. Say thank you when they re-tweet your tweets, and don’t just talk AT people, talk TO them. If they like you, they’ll buy what you’re selling. Don’t just relentlessly shove what you’re selling down their throats! Nobody likes that. Oh, and NO ONE likes auto-Direct Messages, EVER. It’s like sending spam. So, be present. If you don’t have time to tweet, don’t have a robot do it for you.


Q. How do you define living well?

Honoring yourself, and your loved ones. Eating well. Being thankful. Showing gratitude.

Q. What does an indulgent weekend day look like at your house?

Coffee, breakfast, and a good long workout. Lunch with my husband. An afternoon knitting on the sofa. A delicious dinner.

Q. Much like shoes, one’s choice in drinks tells a story.  What are your drinks of choice over the course of a typical day?

Espresso, Water, Espresso, Water, Chianti.

Q.  Aw, heck, why not tell us what shoes you’re wearing while you drink the above?

Oh, I am so not fashionable when it comes to my feet! Dirty secret: I love my clogs. Love, love, LOVE.

Q. 5thjoy celebrates the things that make life shimmer.  What five elements of your life (large or small) bring you joy on a daily basis?

My husband. Delicious food. The big sky, whether it’s full of tree limbs or skyscrapers. Craft – making beautiful things.


Musical Genre: R&B.

Film: Young Frankenstein. I laugh every time I watch it.

Artistic Genre: Surrealism. I have always been drawn to the idea of the exquisite corpse. Perhaps it is why I love collage so much – how different pieces interact with one another to tell a story. I love when things tell a story.

Restaurant: Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café with chef Michael Romano. It’s been a fixture in NYC since 1985. The food is always beyond amazing.

Recipe: I love all the ones that my mom made.

Cookbook: The one my mom handwrote for me.   In print: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.

Meal: Whole Grain Toast with Roasted-Salted Peanut Butter and American Spoon Fruit Sour Cherry Jam. My runner up is the same, but with French sea-salted Butter in place of peanut butter.

Fashion Designer: Depends what kind of mood I am in! Either Ann Demeulemeester or Morgane Le Fay.  I’d say it was J. Morgan Puett but she is no longer making dresses.

All-Around Lifestyle Muse: J. Morgan Puett.

Share this

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Chanee December 6, 2010 at 8:08 am

Such a great interview! I loved learning more about Amy – her Midwest roots, famous and fabulously designed apartment, and her ‘be kind’ philosophy. She really is a shining star on Twitter and in person. Everyone should pay attention to her – we could all learn a lot from how she styles and shares her life!


Katy | Stars in the Gutter December 6, 2010 at 8:47 am

This was a very eye-opening interview for me. Abby, you’re correct when you say that the world tries to pigeonhole us into a niche. It’s very refreshing to see someone do what they love and love what they do, especially when there are multiple niches involved.


Catherine December 6, 2010 at 11:41 am

Loved this post Abby! Thanks for a great interview of one of my fave Twitter friends.
Though I know Amy IRL, we had not yet had a chance to talk about her midwestern roots. Maybe because we are always so in the now. And that’s the beauty of Amy – whatever she is doing right now is where she is at 100%. Her exuberant love of life is catching.
No matter where she goes or what she does Amy will be successful.


Torrie @ a place to share... December 6, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I am so happy to have met Amy just a mere 2 days ago! I am awestruck by her many talents, and especially, her gracious nature and willingness to share her vast knowledge with others- whether they are in the design field, or not!

I am not exaggerating when I say, that I literally got “stuck” in her blog- the images, the ides, the recipes… her self confident, clear, inviting, and down-to-earth writing style.

Thank you for asking the right questions, so that we could learn even more about Amy! (and to answer your initial question- YES:)


Shelly December 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

Great interview on a girl I just recently started following. The pictures are pure eye candy too! Thank you for sharing!


Julieann/CreateGirl December 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm

WOW what a fantastic interview! Amy was one of my first “friends” on twitter and I just learned even more about her, she is such an inspiration! Great interview Abby, I can’t wait to see who you have up next!


admin December 13, 2010 at 8:26 am

Julieann! Thank you so much for dropping in. Amy was ridiculously generous in answering all the questions, and delightful as always. All props go to her. There are new things afoot on 5thjoy so do stay tuned.


Renata Gross January 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

Great interview! Great artist and blogger! Great person! I met Amy Dragoo once in an elevator… we left it chatting and then we stopped at some busy corner of Midtown -NY… and we chatted, and chatted for a little while! She has a lively and warm presence… that I never forgot!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: