A James Beard Award–winning cookbook, a wildly popular lifestyle blog, and an incisive podcast—Athena Calderone navigates between industries using thoughtful design as her connecting thread. Now, the multi-hyphenate is adding rug design to her ever-expanding list of talents. She recently teamed with Beni Rugs—the beloved purveyor of exquisitely crafted Moroccan rugs hand-produced by the North African country’s nomadic Berber people using centuries-old flat weaving techniques—to devise a collection that celebrates “the charm of the hand,” a timeless tradition that finds beauty in hand-spun imperfections.
In the spirit of off-kilter elegance, the duo unveils Broken Symmetry: a 12-part medley of rugs that draws inspiration from the structural palette of Mexican architect Luis Barragán, the irregular repetitions of artist Agnes Martin, and the charged color schemes of artist Ethan Cook. “I love to create symmetry and then break it. I love repetition, but I also love to resist the obvious,” Calderone says. “Somehow there’s common ground and a sense of balance in those very imperfections. How I designed this collection follows the same vernacular.”
Inspired by a 2005 escapade to Marrakech, Calderone fondly recalls how the city’s sun-washed tones—burnt siennas, taupes, and desert rose—continue to captivate her, especially across different shapes, tones, and textures. “It allowed me to see juxtaposition, symmetry, and imperfection through a new lens,” she explains. The collection features a simple cadence of shapes that mirror these splendid harmonies and dissonances. The synergy between her fine-tuned design approach and Beni Rugs’ heritage hand-weaving techniques, which date back more than 10,000 years, granted both an enhanced artistic influence. For Calderone, it was mastering another realm in her creative journey.