It was a fortuitous journey that led AnnMaria Baldine—founder of Washington, DC’s Gallery la Musa—from studies for a career in illustration and advertising to rug design.

Her concern for the well-being of weavers and their children, however, is no accident. She has been committed to service since childhood. “It is very important to me,” she says, “that children are protected. GoodWeave® is a wonderful way to make sure they aren’t exploited.”

Although AnnMaria grew up in upstate New York, the hub of the rug industry, she never considered rug design as a career. After studying illustration and advertising at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology, happenstance led to a job as a textile designer for Mohawk and Alexander Smith. There, in the iconic company’s design studio Ann Maria learned the art of Axminster and Wilton design. As she puts it, “I was the new kid on the block and it was a great learning experience.”

Today her gallery not only shows her colorful and energetic rugs, but also selected ceramic, glass and jewelry. It is the rugs, however, that steal the show. Pompeii, an all-wool cut-and-loop pile rug is her signature piece. The detailed mosaic patterns and the brilliant reds, golds and teals are, she says, the result of a “Wow!” moment she had while looking at images of the ruins of Pompeii.

One of her earliest design challenges, and perhaps the most fun, she recalls, was an assignment to design a sea-themed piece for a child’s room. It was a circular rug in two dozen colors with sea creatures of all kinds. “Hand drawn and no repeats,” she says. “That project was fun!”

There is a boldness to her designs, something she cultivates and her clients appreciate. She points to Ionian Isle, a hand tufted 100 percent wool piece in deep blues, reds and yellows. “I wanted to create the feeling of the wind, sea and sky,” she explains. Inspiration comes from many places. The geometric patterns and vibrant colors of Mondrian and the clean lines and simplicity of Giacometti are some of her influences.

So is her environment. For example, she is contemplating a collection inspired by a trip to Moldova where she photographed patterns of light and shadow on old architecture. “As an artist you have to have a constant awareness of your surroundings.” For AnnMaria Baldine, “awareness of surroundings” also has a moral component. The modest rug designer for diplomats, ambassadors and Saudi princes has also worked with a small, women-run factory in Tibet and insists that women, the literal and metaphoric mothers of the planet, need to help each other.

 For more information on AnnMaria’s fabulous creations, visit (202) 256-2376