In her new book “Live Beautiful,” Athena Calderone gives readers an intimate look inside the homes of her friends, and helps unpack the design process that helped create each enviable interior. So to celebrate the book’s launch, it was only fitting that she wanted to open the doors to her own Cobble Hill town house, where it all began.
“I’ve always straddled both food and design, and all my passions, all of my talents, have been born in the home,” Calderone said before dinner. “So it really felt like it was full circle to host this event in my home.”
AD editor in chief Amy Astley, who penned the book’s introduction, cohosted the evening along with Jane Keltner de Valle. Guests included many whose homes are featured in the book, including Jenna Lyons (wearing a repurposed look from the Met Gala), Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent.
“I really wanted to distill for the reader how beautiful design comes together,” Calderone added, describing the inspiration for the book. “So I might be sharing these beautiful, aspirational, larger-than-life homes, but what are the principles at play and how can I break that down for the reader?”
Her biggest takeaway from her own book was less about the picture perfect interior and more about embracing imperfections.
“From not finishing your floors so you see the spills and the drip marks, because they’re maybe linked to a certain memory, to not being so precious about your marble having ring marks, because it brings you back to a time and place where you hosted a holiday,” she said. “I love beautiful design and I love collecting and being among beautiful things, but I also want to enjoy my homes, and have the people I love enjoy my home,” she added. “Because design at its core is about energy, it’s about walking into a space and being curious and your eye lingering about, but it’s also about how you feel.”
Guests had an opportunity to indulge their lingering curiosity before dinner. Before finding their seat at the long table decked with Tiffany & Co. tableware (the brand decked Calderone with its jewels, too) and situated underneath a dramatic floral arrangement, several guests — including Wes Gordon and Naomi Watts — joined Calderone on a house tour, with stops including her closet and husband Victor Calderone’s recording studio. Downstairs, the couple’s puppy kept guests entertained as waiters kept the Robert Mondavi Winery wine flowing, a drink choice that was also steeped in the personal. Her first time visiting Napa Valley was for her 10th wedding anniversary, and she shared that she’s now headed back to the region with the winery for her 20th. Book publishing has its perks.
She turned the crowd’s rapt attention to the kitchen, where Altro Paradiso chef Ignacio Mattos was busy preparing, among other favorite dishes, a fennel salad. “Food and design are synonymous,” Calderone added. “There’s never one without the other.”
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