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Athena Calderone’s Secret to Avoiding the Rug Mistake Everyone Makes

She’s okay with imperfection.
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Athena Calderone, Brooklyn-based designer and Eyeswoon founder, is no stranger to good design. A peek into her backyard terrace proves that she can expertly mix budget-friendly tile with vintage lighting. And she surely knows her way around a bathroom reno. But even with her enviable Instagram feed and site, that doesn’t mean she’s all about perfection.

Photography by Adrian Gaut
Photography by Simon Watson

In her line for Beni, a collaboration between Calderone and the brand’s cofounders, Robert Wright and Tiberio Lobo-Navia, she created 16 Moroccan-made woven rugs and runners that find pleasure in the patina. In fact, the collection is called Broken Symmetry, a nod to its purposefully imbalanced design. “Moroccan rugs have all these natural imperfections,” says Calderone, which is why her checkerboard rug, for instance, doesn’t rely on matching squares. 

To sketch out the floor coverings, Calderone took inspiration from Mexican architect Luis Barragán, who influenced the earthy palette, and painter Agnes Martin. “I love how Martin played with a rhythm and a cadence of stripes or cubes,” she says. “They all feel just a little bit off.”  

Photography by Max Burkhalter; Styling by Francesca DeShae

When choosing a new rug for your space (Imbalance and Resolute are two of her favorites), Calderone has some advice: “Oftentimes people buy a rug that’s smaller than their sofa,” she says. “I don’t think that a rug needs to go fully under the backside of your sofa, but I do think it needs to be either the same width or ideally wider, so you can identify the space.” Inside actor Adrian Grenier’s Brooklyn brownstone, for example, the floor covering just extends outside of the arms but still elongates the room with its lengthwise orientation. When a rug is too small, a room can feel, well, imbalanced—but not in the perfectly imperfect way of Calderone’s new collection. 

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Julie Vadnal Avatar

Julie Vadnal

Deputy Editor

Julie Vadnal is the deputy editor of Domino. She edits and writes stories about shopping for new and vintage furniture, covers new products (and the tastemakers who love them), and tours the homes of cool creatives. She lives in Brooklyn.