Athena Calderone Hosts Zimmermann

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As tablescapes go, Athena Calderone, the EyeSwoon founder, creates some of the most beautiful. When the interior designer recently hosted a dinner at her home in East Hampton to celebrate sister-duo Nicky and Simone Zimmermann's latest resort offering, the evening was no exception – and suitably chic and beachy to match the mood. Guests were treated to a clean, seasonal menu which included locally sourced vegetable platters, zesty grilled fish and an Australian-inspired dessert. Here, Athena's notes from the evening

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  1. Photographed by DAVID X PRUTTING 

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Dinner Is Served: main picture top, Athena Calderone at home in the Hamptons; above, Simone, left, and Nicky Zimmermann with Calderone.

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Athena, your Zimmermann evening was gorgeous – as is every event at your home. You featured the most beautifully plated food and such a divine tablescape. Can you tell me about your inspiration for the event: I was inspired by the effortless beauty of Zimmermann’s resort collection. The fabrics and the patterns drove every design decision, from the sea shells on the tablescape to the rhubarb cocktails!

Which elements did you include in the menu? I worked together with Poppy’s Catering to create a seasonal summer menu that expressed the beachy vibe of the brand. We decided to serve the dinner family-style, to further highlight the brand’s casual aesthetic, and the deliciously fresh food was filled with vibrancy and flavour.

Our meal began with beets and tomatoes – perfect for a June menu, still lingering on the spring’s bounty and just starting to ripen into summer. We paired the tomatoes and beets over a whipped feta and topped with pistachios for a crunch and nutty flavour. We also love adding pea shoots as the perfect garnish. For the family-style dinner, we paired the Black Sea bass with a zesty lime yogurt and topped it with a shaved fennel and radish slaw. The grilled hanger steak was drizzled with salsa verde and had shaved cucumber and rhubarb for garnish. More lime zest brightened up the grilled local vegetable platters packed with zucchini, squash, carrots and string beans. And finally, a favourite spring potato salad served with hot pink watermelon radishes, pickled mustard seeds and dill. To finish, we took a nod from the fact Zimmermann is an Australian brand, and did an Aussie favourite of strawberry pavlovas with creme fraiche and elderflowers. 

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  3. You always create the most magical entertaining scenes. How did you visualise the Zimmermann event, which details went into setting the mood? I always strive to challenge myself creatively and conjure up something unique when it comes to planning an event. The sunset along the sea in Amagansett has always been a major source of inspiration and I chose to evoke that sense of calm into the design of the dinner. I worked together with Fodder Fox Farm to execute the shell centerpieces and the pink barnacles for garnish. The centre focal point of the table was non floral, but we did choose to include Bunny grass which grows all over Long Island and its beachy areas – it was Chosen to add a bit of texture, it's beachy without being too "beachy" and the colours are soft and beautiful with the shells.

    What do you love about the Zimmermann aesthetic, in terms of its style and the women behind the brand? Zimmermann’s designs which are feminine and bohemian and the overall brand DNA fits my aesthetic seamlessly – effortless white flowy linen summer dresses make me swoon! And the women behind the brand were a pleasure to work with while creating this vision. 

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  2. Can you share a secret to hosting the perfect event – in your mind, which elements are always required? Creating a signature cocktail and have one, just one, before guests arrive, here a rhubarb and basil spiked margarita. Also, the perfect playlist for the night are two of my hosting essentials.

    Creatively, what is your signature or common theme when it comes to hosting events? Concepting and creating a tablescape with a controlled colour theme and carrying that through all design statements including florals, linens, candles, and so on. 

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  5. Scene Setters: Guests included the artist Anh Duong, pictured above with Nicky Zimmermann, along with Executive Director of Art Production Fund Casey Fremont, the chef and writer Katie Lee, The Eye Travels blogger Samantha Angelo, Hamptons Magazine editor Samantha Marcus Yanks, and Vogue Accessories Director Selby Drummond with boyfriend Steven Dubb, principal at Beechwood Organization.

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On the menu: above, Athena's beet and tomato salad served over whipped feta and topped with pistachios for crunch; below, guests take dinner at a long canopied table on the lawn.

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  4. What ignited your love of design, style and good food? I love making things beautiful – whether it’s my immediate physical environment or the food that I create. 

  5. What else motivates you? What are your passions? My family and travel. And walking the beach at sunset in Amagansett – the horizon line and the ranging tones of pinks and blues and purples always calms me.

    And your personal style – how does your aesthetic cross over from food and interiors into your wardrobe? I approach fashion, design & food in the same way – adding layers and texture, balancing flavours, and adding unexpected juxtaposed elements.

    Can you describe your interior style at home and what makes your home so special to you? I am in the midst of renovating my new townhouse and the vision for my home is to fuse French flair and Scandinavian design with Brooklyn modernity. I love the synthesis of old and new, patina’d and glossy, rough and sophisticated.  It is in the tension and curiosity that design gets interesting.  So I guess I am all about the quality and a mix and buying timeless pieces I will want to live with for years to come. 

    And lastly, it's always such a thrill to find in one person a great sense of style in everything. Please share your current inspirations:

  6. Daily uniform: In summer, breezy linen dresses. 

  7. Your obsession right now: I just returned from Copenhagen. Its food and design sensibility is incredibly inspiring.

  8. Your home away from home: Amagansett and I love the Aeolian Islands in the summer. 

  9. In your refrigerator right now: Labne always, Lemons, herbs. 

  10. Your favourite book: I'm currently reading A Sport And A Pastime.

 

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