Paris on my mind by Jennifer Gyr - Day 6

By Jennifer Gyr

I fell in love with Paris when as a teenager I was watching Audrey Hepburn swan through the ville lumière in the movie “Funny Face”.  Over the years I have been so lucky to make many trips to this enchanted city with friends and family.  My trip in late February was the first time I was in Paris by myself with my limited French vocabulary of “Bonjour”, “Merci” and “Au Revoir” (which even then I would speak in a whisper so that my Southern accent wouldn’t decimate the beauty of the language).

What a magical week it would be. As Audrey said so perfectly, “Paris is always a good idea”!

A beautiful morning at the Musée Jacquemart-André

I start my day off by visiting one of my favorite small museums – the Musée Jacquemart-André. There is a plethora of incredible house museums, museums devoted to an individual artist or a particular period, or style, and I always try to go to one or two of them whenever I am in Paris. I always enjoy my visit to the Jacquemart-André, which is located in the 8th arrondissement on Boulevard Haussmann. The museum was created in the private home of Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart. It is located in an opulent Belle Epoque mansion that is worth a visit on its own, as it offers a chance to discover not only masterpieces of art but also the inside of one of the finest mansions of the 19th century. Edouard André was from a wealthy French banking family and he started collecting art at a young age. He was such a well-known collector that Napoleon III personally asked him to oversee the fine arts exhibit of the 1867 Exposition Universelle. In 1869, Edouard started building his personal mansion and it took 7 years to make. The house caused a sensation when it was finished as it was built on the newly-constructed Boulevard Haussmann, one of Paris’ grand boulevards. In 1872, he hired the artist Nélie Jacquemart to paint his portrait. In a lovely twist of fate, they fell in love, got married and traveled around the world creating one of the greatest private art collections.

Musée Jacquemart-André

I spent the morning wandering through the salons, their private quarters and through the art galleries. I then took some time relaxing in their dining room, which is now a tearoom, and enjoyed a cup of coffee while looking out onto the courtyard and the garden. I started musing about the grand parties that took place here. Apparently, the Picture Gallery, the Grand Salon and the Music Room can be opened up into one large ballroom by removing the walls using a complex hydraulic system. They really thought this out when designing the mansion! They could then host lavish parties filled with 1,000 guests. Oh, how I would love to have been a guest at such an affair. I then visited the Winter Garden with its exotic plant collection and the most spectacular double helix staircase above which two large Venetian frescoes by Tiepolo, magnificently hung. This is a more intimate museum but it is packed with masterpieces. From Italian Renaissance art to still-lifes and landscapes by great artists such as Chardin, Boucher, Canaletto, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Frans Hals. There is also furniture, porcelain, sculptures, tapestries and frescoes. It reminds me a lot of one of my favorite museums in NYC, The Frick Collection. Sadly, Edouard died suddenly at age sixty. Nélie continued collecting and per her wishes, after her death in 1912, the private mansion became a museum open to the public and was inaugurated by the President of France in 1913. After a restorative morning, I then slipped out into the midday sun and headed to meet a friend for lunch.

A lunch date at Le Grand Véfour

Le Grand Véfour was the first grand restaurant in Paris. It opened in 1784, even before the revolution, and is nestled in the corner of the arcades of the Palais-Royal. For over 200 years it has attracted all the big names in French politics and culture, such as Victor Hugo, Colette and Jean Cocteau. In fact, rumor has it that Napoléon proposed to Joséphine while dining here. Most of the tables have brass plaques with the name of a famous diner. My friend and I were seated at Balzac’s table. The classic French dishes have such delicate flavors and are created by the star chef Guy Martin but the thing I remember most vividly is the heavenly strawberry and rhubarb dessert. With its early 19th century neoclassical interiors, Le Grand Véfour truly is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris. Intricately etched mirrors fill the space and with the gilded décor and the delicate hand-painted panels, the room glistens when the sunlight pours in and reflects all around us.

After saying adieu to my friend, I walk around the Palais-Royal. I always enjoy walking through the arcades with the endless rows of columns. At any time of day, the light streams between the columns and creates the most striking but fleeting patterns that dance at your footsteps. I pass by several shops along the way, including Didier Ludot, the famous vintage haute couture clothing store, as he always has a fashionable window display. I then grab a cup of coffee (yes, I love coffee) at Café Kitsuné and sit out in the garden of the Palais to have a quiet moment before my packed afternoon filled with lots of walking and window shopping and the occasional purchase.

“At any time of day, the light streams between the columns and creates the most striking but fleeting patterns that dance at your footsteps.”

A fun afternoon shopping

I then proceed to two of my favorite places I always visit when I am in Paris: Astier de Villatte (173 rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st), is like a cabinet of curiosities with their sought-after line of beautiful white ceramic pieces. They are a contemporary ceramics company but some of their shapes date from the 18th century. It is a wonderful combination of functionality and ancient beauty. Each piece is made by hand in their workshop in Paris. Even though the circles on a cup might not be perfect and can be a bit out of proportion, this imperfection shows that you will never get two pieces that are the same and each is unique in itself. Their signature white glaze has a slightly darker tone and you can see bits of the clay peeking through. There is a certain charm to their pieces as if they were passed down to you from your quirky but elegant great-aunt or you would find them in a still-life painting. The owners wanted their ceramics to be made in Paris as the city is a constant source of inspiration. They believe that a part of Paris is a dream and can be like a film or theater set and they are creating these fantasy pieces for these sets. In the shop, one can feel the remnants of the past as it is housed in an 18th century silversmithy where, apparently, Napoléon once visited (I seem to be following in his footsteps today).

After spending 20 minutes picking out a few pieces to buy (again, no piece is alike so you really take time thinking about which coffee cup or egg cup to buy as they are all slightly different), I walk down a short hallway and enter a back room. It feels like a secret chamber because the white ceramic pieces now burst with color with a collection done by the American découpage artist John Derian. Flowers, animals, seashells – the natural world is seen on plates, cups and vases. I am so happy to see this collaboration as John Derian has a shop in NYC that I visit as often as I can. His place is a destination for bohemian-chic shopping especially at Christmastime with hundreds of ornaments filling the store. It happens to be located a block away from our Par Excellence showroom at 6 East 2nd Street. And lucky for us New Yorkers, at this shop he sells pieces from Astier de Villatte (both his collection and the white ceramic pieces).

I then walk two blocks to visit Maison Sarah Lavoine at 9 rue Saint-Roch. Sarah is an interior designer and several years ago she opened this shop to sell items that are made in France by quality craftsmen. From furniture, tableware, stationery, decorative objects to even clothes I always find something to take home. The shop itself feels like walking into your cool French friend’s apartment with everything so perfectly arranged. Sarah has a line of tableware, stationery and fabrics with a bold sense of color combinations that I love (think teal with black). These bold color combos make you feel like you are spending summer eating outside in the countryside or by the sea.

Tableware at Maison Sarah Lavoine

I then head a block over to the Tuileries and find a park bench to sit and rest before heading back to the Left Bank. I love the act of people watching in Paris. Either sitting in one of the many beautiful gardens dotting the city or whiling away time sitting outside a café somehow time seems to stand still and you get lost in your thoughts as you watch the flâneurs stroll past. Getting my second wind of the day, I cross the Seine and head back into the 7th. I am walking down rue de Varenne and notice a door to a building is open and I happen to glance in. It revealed the most beautiful entry way with a purple door (my favorite) that led to a courtyard surrounded by a group of lovely buildings. I love these enchanting surprises when you find something wonderful hidden behind a door. I continue on down the street and then I do a double take and have to stop. What I thought was a jewelry store was in fact a chocolate shop. Jacques Genin (27 rue de Varenne) is famous for its caramels, pâte de fruits and exquisite chocolates and with its pristine futuristic laboratory-like shop it makes one stop and take notice.

Looking through the window at Jacques Genin chocolate shop

Unfortunately, I was running a bit late and couldn’t pop inside for a taste as I had something more urgent to buy – shoes! My chic French friend recommended Chatelles at 94 rue du Bac. It is a Parisian brand of slippers (flats, loafers, however you want to call them. I call them comfortable) that you can customize with color and fabric of the shoe to the tassels, initials and pompoms to accessorize the shoe to make it unique and your own. Inspired by English history, designed in Paris and made by hand using the best Italian leather in a workshop in Portugal. To add something extra secret, a Victor Hugo quote is engraved on the insole, “I cannot live…Far away from you any longer”. I can’t live without these shoes as they get me comfortably around the big cities. The hard part was what to pick – camo fabric or black leather? Tassel or initial? Hmmm….

A selection of shoes at Chatelles

A dinner filled with the most amazing desserts

After dropping off a few small shopping parcels at my hotel, I jump in an Uber to meet a friend for dinner at La Poule au Pot (9 rue Vauvilliers, 1st arr.). What a treat I was in for. The small restaurant has a 1950s throwback feel with floral wallpaper, lace curtains and pink tablecloths. But don’t let that fool you as it turns out to be more like a “Haute Bistro”. The restaurant has been around for over 80 years but it was recently re-imagined by the new chef, Jean-Francois Piège. He is another star chef who used to be the head chef at the restaurant at the Hôtel de Crillon and now owns several restaurants around the city. This one is his favorite and he happened to be there that night cooking up a feast. It is traditional French cuisine but done in an old school way. All of the French classics were on the menu. I even had an omelet for dinner. Nothing beats a French omelet. Throughout our meal I kept seeing the waitress walking around holding a large glass baking dish and she would scoop out the most amazing looking dessert periodically to guests who all gleefully accepted. I couldn’t wait to try it but when the dessert menu arrived, I could not find it. I asked about it and as it turns out, it is their famous crème caramel that comes with your coffee order. Needless to say, I had two coffees that night. Absolutely delicious! It is a profoundly French restaurant full of Parisians tightly packed elbow to elbow but enjoying every moment of being there in the most convivial atmosphere. To top it off, I was fan geeking all night long as the French actor, Vincent Lindon, was sitting with a group of friends a few tables away. Oh, and they were playing 70s and 80s pop music. I was hooked.

After leaving the restaurant we decided to head to Le Meurice Hôtel for a night cap but I had ulterior motives as I wanted to try a special dessert (don’t judge – I am in France). Cédric Grolet is a genius pastry chef (he was named the World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2018). His desserts are something you have to see to believe. We settle into the leather chairs at the bar and I immediately order the lime dessert. When it arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was a lime in front of me, or was there? I used my spoon to break it in half, and deliciousness oozed out. Cédric reconstructed the lime out of the essence of the fruit. He is known for these legendary trompe-l’oeil sculpted fruit. He has 1.6 million followers on Instagram so that should give you a hint on how masterful his work is. The taste is pure essence. As Cedric so aptly says, “Beauty brings them in, but taste brings them back”. I will definitely be back!

As I say goodnight to my friend and wait for my Uber to arrive, I notice the shimmering lights all around me as I look into the window of the Le Meurice and then across the street to the Tuileries. It reminds me of my visit with Etienne yesterday at the Ozone atelier. Paris is always so beautifully lit as if a theatrical lighting expert worked his magic.

To be continued … à suivre….et à bientôt!


📸  by Jennifer Gyr


Jennifer Gyr is a Creative Consultant at Par Excellence. After obtaining a degree in Art History and Photography, she was a Helena Rubenstein Intern at MoMA in NYC and she completed the “Works of Art” course at Sotheby’s in London. She then worked for several years at the photography gallery Hamiltons Gallery in London and at Hyperion Press and Keith de Lellis Gallery in NYC. She was a private photography dealer for many years and served as an archivist and curator of a private photography collection in NYC. She also archived the estate of the photographer Horst P. Horst. She has curated several exhibitions and consulted on numerous photo books and exhibitions including with The National Portrait Gallery in London. When not seeking her next travel inspiration she lives in Brooklyn with her Swiss husband.


Paris on my mind by Jennifer Gyr - Day 5

By Jennifer Gyr

I fell in love with Paris when as a teenager I was watching Audrey Hepburn swan through the ville lumière in the movie “Funny Face”.  Over the years I have been so lucky to make many trips to this enchanted city with friends and family.  My trip in late February was the first time I was in Paris by myself with my limited French vocabulary of “Bonjour”, “Merci” and “Au Revoir” (which even then I would speak in a whisper so that my Southern accent wouldn’t decimate the beauty of the language).

What a magical week it would be. As Audrey said so perfectly, “Paris is always a good idea”!

A visit to Ozone’s workshop:

It is a rainy morning and as my Uber slowly winds its way through the clogged streets of the morning rush hour, I make my way to the Marais. I was so looking forward to meeting Etienne Gounot and his team at Ozone, a contemporary lighting design company. As I walked through the narrow entryway that led me to an interior courtyard, I could see the workshop nestled in the back. I was warmly greeted by Etienne and he immediately offered me a homemade canelé that was made for a colleague’s birthday that day. Dessert at 9:30 am. I love France! We settled into a corner table and for the next hour we poured through their latest catalog. I was entranced by all of the beautiful lighting designs they made over the years. Etienne and his co-founder, Eric Jähnke, were industrial engineers and met while working together. A friendship quickly formed over their love of lighting design and in 2000 they created Ozone. They work closely with architects, interior designers and private clients to create the perfect lighting for each project. They combine traditional French high-end craftsmanship with the latest in LED technology. Their designs range from classic to modernist and minimal.

Eric Jähnke & Etienne Gounot

I am immediately struck by the “Parisienne Opéra” chandelier, which looked like the iconic Parisian streetlamps. Etienne smiled and said that the designer, the architect Régis Botta, was inspired by a nocturnal walk under the streetlights of Paris. The name of the collection was perfect. Paris was the world’s first city to use electric lighting on the avenue de l’Opéra in 1878. The glass domes resembled the lantern part of the streetlights, and the chandelier could feel like dots of lights floating above you reminding you of Paris, the City of Light.

The next project that stopped me dead in my tracks was a project they did for the Elie Saab flagship store in London. They created a dramatic three-story cubist metal structure with light boxes fitted throughout. This monumental light sculpture soars from the ground floor up through the center space of a grand circular staircase lighting one’s path along the way. They seem to sculpt with light. What is so astonishing is that you don’t see the light source. They seem to have harnessed the light and it glows from within. Etienne and Eric are engineers by training but their love of art shows through in their work. They are engineers and artisans combining science with art and creating a poetic universe.

Etienne loves taking photographs as it allows him to capture light in all its forms. Light creates a special atmosphere. One can see that shadow and light interactions are important, because a world without shadows is flat. Etienne thinks that the most beautiful light comes at sunrise. This shows through in Ozone’s work as all of their lighting is warm and diffused, never harsh. It feels as if they have captured the glow of the sun, as you can see so sublimely in their “Line L200” wall lamp that was designed by Etienne and Eric. Using an aluminum structure, they wrapped the light with a soft diffusion material evoking a Japanese design. This diffused light is meditative and serene, making the large light fixture appear weightless as if it could float into the air if it was not anchored to the wall. Etienne is inspired by Japanese aesthetics as he developed a deep love of this art when he lived in Asia for several years early in his career. Looking at this collection reminds me of a wonderful Victor Hugo quote, “To see beauty is to see light”.

“Light creates a special atmosphere. One can see that shadow and light interactions are important, because a world without shadows is flat.”

We then started discussing one of my favorite projects, the Monsieur Bleu restaurant at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. In 2013, the French architect, Joseph Dirand, designed the space and collaborated with Ozone on the “Joseph Dirand Gelule Wall Lamp”. This oblong metal sconce looks like it is hovering in front of the wall, and it seems that the light emanating from behind is holding it in place, showing that light is powerful and strong. It has a futuristic quality about it. Joseph also included in the restaurant Ozone’s re-issued “Brasilia” chandeliers that were designed by Michel Boyer in the 1970s. This chandelier had been originally designed for the French Embassy in Brazil. These ethereal lamps seem to float in mid-air. All of the lighting used is indirect to avoid casting shadows and it creates an inviting and flattering atmosphere for the diners. I love the use of the vintage design of the Brasilia chandeliers with the contemporary design of the Gelule wall lamps to seamlessly combine the past with the present in a timeless interior.

We then take a tour around the workshop. All of Ozone’s lighting pieces are designed and made by hand in Paris and assembled in their intimate workshop (the metal pieces are manufactured in nearby metal workshops). Metal framework for a new design just arrived and I watched them open up the packages to see the design for the first time. Large, round metal circles of varying sizes appeared one after another. This is part of a chandelier design they created for a private residence in France. As it is for a private client, no photos were allowed but I did see the drawing and was awed by another creative way of showcasing light in a way I had never seen before. Etienne’s two colleagues started assembling the metal pieces and preparing them for the LED panels. I saw them but was sworn to secrecy as their lighting configuration was top secret (not that I could spill any secrets anyway, as it was beyond my comprehension). To me that is the magic of seeing this process. The end result is so beautiful that one forgets that there is masterful technology and extremely sophisticated engineering behind the creation. All of the electrical parts and tools are organized perfectly around the workshop and one can see that these magicians take great pride in their work.

As I am about to leave, Etienne surprises me with a sneak preview of their latest collection that will be released in a few weeks. Etienne and Eric design many of the pieces themselves but they also have a series where they collaborate on collections with architects and designers such as Joseph Dirand, Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Régis Botta. This newest collection is designed by Glenn Sestig and is called “Tennessee”. I told Etienne that it was such a wonderful coincidence that this was the title as my mother is from Tennessee. It is called Tennessee as a tribute to the great outdoors, cult American music and Tennessee Williams. This collection has a beautiful combination of architectural and decorative elements with the soft, round paper shades morphing into the strong metal framework. I love how a Belgian designer collaborates with a French company to produce a collection inspired by an American idea.

As I walk out into the courtyard and make my way back to the street, I think about how important light is in any architectural and interior projects. Light is one of the most important elements of any room. How wonderful that Ozone is based in the heart of the City of Light.

On a side note, I highly recommend looking at Ozone’s Instagram account. They are always including inspirational photos of the changing nature of light and capturing light in its infinite ways. I sent a thank you text to Etienne the next day and he responded with a lovely note that included a quick video of the Eiffel Tower’s shimmering light show just as the sun was setting. It was twinkling like stars and he captured the magic of light exactly how he imagines it with what he and his colleagues create at Ozone.

Ozone Instagram Account

A stroll through the Marais:

I had the rest of the afternoon off, and I did what I love to do when traveling. Using Google Maps, I plugged in my final destination (an art gallery about 15 minutes away from Ozone) and started meandering through the streets, not knowing where I was going but discovering interesting things along the way. I would turn down a street on a whim knowing that Google Maps was watching over me and would never let me become entirely “lost”. I decided to take a skinny pedestrian street that connected two larger streets. I then saw something before me that for a moment made me feel like I was in “Les Misérables” (it was fresh in my mind as before my trip I watched my friend’s daughter perform in that play). Right in front of me and practically filling the entire width of the street was a large wooden “barricade”. I then thought that perhaps it was “street art” but I quickly noticed that it was actually holding up the bulging wall. I filled my exercise quota in 30 seconds by sprinting as fast as I could past the tension filled assemblage. This burst of adrenaline was soon replaced by a soothing ahhh as I turned onto a different street and could see that every doorway had flowering hearts and lovely sayings painted onto the wooden doors. I love these constant surprises. As someone who lives in a big city and when I see so many people walking around town with their noses buried in their phones, I always think to myself, “look up” as you will see so many inspiring things. Around the corner I passed a shop with the most beautiful shop window. At Muskhane, the windows were filled with whimsical items all made of felt. As a matter of fact, the entire store is filled only with decorative felt objects.

I then reached my final destination, the photography gallery, La Galerie de l’Instant on Rue de Poitou in the 3rd arrondissement. I wanted to see their current exhibition of photographs of Jane Birkin from the late 60s/early 70s. The photographs were taken by her brother Andrew Birkin and the photographer Tony Frank and they capture Jane in candid and unique moments in her life. I was especially drawn to those that included her great love Serge Gainsbourg especially after recently seeing the home they shared in the 7th. Downstairs in the stone basement they had an exhibition highlighting other photographers they represented and I saw beautiful images of Kate Moss and Marilyn Monroe among many others. I had the gallery to myself and I was able to quietly linger and enjoy seeing many classic images and discovering new ones.

I then headed back to Le Saint, my hotel on the Left Bank, and settled into the sofa in the living room of the hotel. In front of a roaring fire, I had a wonderful dinner and started planning my excursions for the next day. Halfway through my meal, an elegant elderly gentleman arrived and sat down in the chair next to the fireplace. He pulled out a cashmere blanket from his bag and wrapped it around his lap covering his legs. It was late February so sitting by the fire was a wonderful way to end the day. He pulled out a book and started reading and right on cue the waiter appeared with a cup of hot chocolate that he placed by his chair even though I never saw him place an order. We started chatting and it turns out he lives in the neighborhood but he is a regular at the hotel enjoying a few quiet moments relaxing by the fire and reading. I notice this in NYC too – so many hotels now are so comfortable and welcoming that they become an extension of one’s small apartment in the big city. I do that myself when I find time. The Bowery Hotel is located across the street from our offices at Par Excellence. Sometimes before or after a meeting I will venture down to the hotel for a cup of tea by the fire or will meet a friend to catch up. Suddenly, being at this hotel in Paris sitting by the fire felt a bit like home.

Having dinner by the fireplace at Le Saint Hotel

To be continued … à suivre….et à bientôt!


📸  by Jennifer Gyr


Jennifer Gyr is a Creative Consultant at Par Excellence. After obtaining a degree in Art History and Photography, she was a Helena Rubenstein Intern at MoMA in NYC and she completed the “Works of Art” course at Sotheby’s in London. She then worked for several years at the photography gallery Hamiltons Gallery in London and at Hyperion Press and Keith de Lellis Gallery in NYC. She was a private photography dealer for many years and served as an archivist and curator of a private photography collection in NYC. She also archived the estate of the photographer Horst P. Horst. She has curated several exhibitions and consulted on numerous photo books and exhibitions including with The National Portrait Gallery in London. When not seeking her next travel inspiration she lives in Brooklyn with her Swiss husband.


"What Inspires Me" with Anna Beeber

At Par Excellence, we had the chance to interview the inspiring Anna Beeber, partner at Champalimaud Design firm. Here, she talks about the philosophy 
behind her creative process, her career at Champalimaud Design which she joined in 2010, her favorite architecture places and best tips in New York.

From product design, interior design to construction management, she has lead renowned projects such as New York’s iconic hotels The Carlyle and The Waldorf Astoria, the Su Casa in Puerto Rico, as well as a series of luxury residential projects, among them a Park Avenue residence where our partner Atelier Jouffre intervened.

Internally, Anna collaborates closely with founder Alexandra Champalimaud on the Champalimaud Collection including private label furniture, fabrics and trims available at Holland & Sherry and rugs for The Rug Company.

Could you tell us a bit about your path and career?

I studied Sociology at Georgetown University with the hopes of entering the non-profit world and working to enhance quality of life in America.  But jobs were scarce, and I ended up working in real estate instead.  While touring incredible homes in Washington, D.C., I realized that many people had no idea what they were doing with their interiors – everyone’s houses seemed a mess!  I decided to trade my goal of enhancing people’s lives through policy for the shot at improving their lives through good design.

My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) was transferred from his job in New York to London and I desperately wanted to follow. I was fortunate to secure a spot at Inchbald School of Design in London where I studied Interior Architecture. Upon graduation I went to work at a small residential firm before moving back to New York in 2010 and joining Champalimaud Design.


Is your love for design related to your education or are you self-taught?

I love creating order and harmony and helping people sort through their priorities. This promotes a balanced environment that is reflective of one’s personal style. Thinking back, I realize I always practiced this – my sister Julia and I shared a room as young girls and we redecorated every Wednesday afternoon. As I got older, I found myself redecorating and reorganizing my friends’ bedrooms and later their apartments and houses.

Of course, I had no idea what I was doing until I went to design school. My education at Inchbald gave me the vocabulary to articulate the process and the confidence to pursue a career in the field.


What attracted you to join Champalimaud Design in 2010?

I am lucky to be friends with Alexandra Champalimaud’s family and had long admired her work and the reach of the studio. She is an extraordinarily charming and sophisticated woman with a magnetic personality. I love her sense of irreverence, natural style, and ambition. I wanted to work with her from the moment I met her; I knew I could learn an enormous amount about design and life in general.


What is the project you are the proudest of?

I am most proud of the projects that we complete successfully despite great challenge. There have been many that fit this category! And for so many different reasons – extreme climates, difficult access because of remote or distant locations, delays due to weather or natural disasters, and on and on.

Recently we completed the renovation of Su Casa, the magical Presidential Suite at the Ritz Reserve in Dorado Beach Puerto Rico. My first visit to the property was shortly after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. I stayed in the only working hotel room on the shuttered yet sprawling resort. There was an incredible rain storm the first night of my arrival and I felt quite fearful listening to the pounding waves and howling wind. The following day I toured the property with the ownership group and got a glimpse of the overwhelming damage caused by the Hurricane. Hearts were breaking over the loss of beautiful trees, the loss of jobs, and the loss of life on the island.

But our client was incredibly resilient and optimistic and lovely to work with. Together, as a team, we came up with a beautiful design strategy to enhance the property within a very short timeline. Along with some of my colleagues, we had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time on site and I found the entire process enormously fulfilling. To see the completed project a year later, sparkling in the sunshine with flowers and trees growing everywhere and our incredible furnishings installed in the renovated house was truly incredible.

Photos by Emily Andrews 

Where do you find your inspiration? Is there a designer or era you are particularly fond of?

Each project presents a different set of ingredients and I love to dig into these particularities to find inspiration. Our clients are all incredibly complex and interesting and each location is diverse. Because we work on a plethora of projects in many different regions, I find the program of each space to be energizing. From a private family retreat on a ski mountain to a 5-star boutique hotel on a beach, we get to work through the logistics and particularities associated with each space. I love listening to our client’s initial dreams for the property and using those desires to launch the search for inspiration.


What is your relation with craftsmanship? How does it blend into your projects?

Our job would not be possible without the incredible craftspeople that we work with on a daily basis; it is the relationship with these experts that continually inspires me.  In many ways, our job as designer is simply a connector: we are connecting our clients to the people who will execute their projects.  And along the way we try to elevate the vision and harmonize the various elements of the project to create a beautiful outcome.

“We are lucky to work all over the world and it is such a joy to meet people with unique talents in each part of the globe. Often we will take our initial sketches and drawings to the craftspeople and have detailed conversations about how to improve the concept. We are very open to the advice they are willing to share and we return to many over and over again because of their incredible skills. I have learned so much through these conversations and continually seek them out.” – Anna Beeber

We saw that back in 2016 you transformed with the help of Drew Lang a raw loft space into your new inspired modern home. What was the process like? Did you follow the same methodology as when you’re at work?

We lived in our loft for 4 years before renovating. During this time, I drew countless floor plans and layouts. But I always had a clear vision for what the space should look like from the day we bought it. I tend to think that the most successful projects are those that have strict design rules. They help build a rhythm in the space that enriches the overall feeling. Sometimes that means I am quite strict with clients to enforce the rules. And in the same way, I was strict with myself during the design process. There are so many beautiful choices when selecting materials, finishes and details. But they cannot all live within the same apartment!

“The experience of renovating my own properties including our loft in NYC has made me a much better design partner for our clients at Champalimaud Design. Inherent to the process of construction are great revelations and joyful moments, but there are many more moments of frustration, never-ending delays, and extraordinary costs. Because of my own experiences, I understand how my clients feel during the emotional process and I have a bit more patience and sympathy as a result.” – Anna Beeber

What is your favorite color or material of the moment?

There are so many exotic materials that we get to use and we are lucky to have clients who allow us to source incredible textiles made from metal threads, rare stones like Grand Antique (one of my favorites!), cast bronze, mirrored stainless steel and on and on.

But I personally cannot help but be continually drawn to the humblest materials: cotton, linen, and wool. They are timeless, they drape beautifully, they upholster perfectly.


Which city do you like best in terms of architecture? Or one building that strikes you every time?

This is a hard question! One of my favorite places is Barcelona. There are several distinct architectural styles ranging from Gothic to Modern and everything in between. It’s organized but simultaneously full of surprises, vibrant and colorful. There is an energy and grit in the streets that somehow compliments the buildings, most of which show a patina. It isn’t manicured and as a result the character oozes our of each neighborhood.

For the same reasons I love Istanbul. There is a sense of culture revealed through the architecture that is transportive. It’s almost as if the buildings are whispering their secrets and the layers are rich. I love that the buildings are all jumbled up with Byzantine, Medieval and Avant-Guarde structures living together on the same street. The history of the city is as complex as the architecture and I love the chaos.

Can you disclose something about yourself that might surprise us?

You would probably be surprised to know that I was born in a farm truck on the side of the road in central Alaska in the middle of winter. Luckily, my mother is a midwife and is incredibly resourceful, so she was perfectly equipped to handle the ordeal. I, however, needed to spend a few days in an incubator warming up.


Your favorite Blog/Instagram/Podcast?

After living in Washington, D.C. for 8 years, I’m afraid I carry the burden of the typical political junkie. My favorite Podcast is Preet Bharara’s “Stay Tuned with Preet. It’s informative and educational and helps me understand the legal side of politics.

I love the instagram account @tinyheartsfarm. They are a flower farm near my house upstate in the Hudson Valley and a source of inspiration for my gardening efforts.


Favorite museums/galleries

I love the galleries on 10th Street & University – Bernd Goeckler, Hostler Burrows and Maison Gerard. The Future Perfect is just a few blocks away on Great Jones Street.

Favorite restaurants

I am lucky to live in a neighborhood with incredible restaurants and love that I can walk a few blocks and enjoy many different cuisines. My perennial favorite is Indochine which is across the street from my house and has never been out of style since the moment it opened in the mid-80s.

“And Atla, just down the street on Lafayette, is my favorite newcomer. The contemporary Mexican menu changes regularly but thankfully their cocktails remain consistent. I have grown quite addicted the “E.S.L.” – Anna Beeber

Favorite place

The Public Theater is my favorite place in Manhattan. Home of the former Astor Library, the Romanesque revival building was purchased by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in the 1920s and provided aid for Jewish refugees until it fell into disuse.  In the 60s it was turned into a theater and eventually became one of the first landmarked buildings in New York City. The Public Theater undertook a massive restoration recently and it is now a beautiful cornerstone of my neighborhood. The performances in the theater and Joe’s Pub are legendary and we will often catch a couple in one evening. Drinks in the Library provide a nice intermission.

Dive into Anna Beeber’ universe through her Instagram account

Discover Champalimaud Design’ projects here and their Instagram account


William Amor, up-cycling creator of artificial flowers

An article by Signatures Singulières

Recycled plastic floral metaphors 

Plastic artist William Amor transforms plastic waste into graceful flower bouquet. Jewelry, interior decorations, monumental installations… The founder of Créations Messagères transforms discarded materials into many beauty pieces, always combined with messages committed to nature.

William Amor in his atelier Créations Messagères

An ode to love and nature

Last October, a vast field of 250 poppies arose in the Palais Brongniart in Paris. This bucolic installation illustrated Kenzo Parfums’ values of love and sharing. These artificial poppies also showcased William Amor’s up-cycling expertise. Created by the French artist, each of the giant flowers was in fact made from an assembly of recycled plastic waste. William Amor has already been at the origin of such monumental installations. A “poetic flight” of fake flowers enchanted the Révelations fine craft and creation fair last year. Similarly, an artificial plant cascade sprang from a spectacular wall lamp in the heart of a luxury mall in Hong Kong. This seemingly floral effervescence is in fact the work of the “neglected materials’ ennobler” William Amor. To do this, this magician borrows processes from craftsmen such as jewelers, embroiderers and plumassiers.

Révélations fair in the Grand Palais, Paris. « L’envolée Poétique » wall lamp, ennoblement of plastic bags, food packaging and marine rope. William Amor - Atelier Créations Messagères

An up-cycling botanical creator

Former resident of the Ateliers de Paris and botanical enthusiast, William Amor defines himself as an “ennobler of neglected materials”. Indeed, this plastic artist creates works exclusively from plastic abandoned in nature. The result consists in hours of meticulous work to metamorphose shapeless ends into petals, stamens and colored stems. William Amor has thus implemented special cutting, shaping and dyeing processes. This up-cycling creator also revisits in his own way the gestures of traditional floral decorators and plumassiers. The outcome: a series of techniques to transform the smallest piece of discarded plastic into floral detail. Pieces of plastic bottles and bags are transformed into camellias, blueberries, poppies and other graceful flowers. In addition to these exceptional compositions’ beauty, these colorful nuanced flowers carry a committed message in favor of the environment.

Rose-heart pleats in plastic bags. William Amor

An engaged floral art

Not only does William Amor create works of art, but he also changes our outlook on waste. An old crumpled plastic bag thus becomes matter to create beauty following the example of precious stones. These wastes that clutter up nature begin a new life after being embellished. To that extent, William Amor tells us, in his own way, poetic stories about the preservation of the living.

Giant Poppy studio - Kenzo. William Amor - Atelier Créations Messagères

Founder of Créations Messagères, the artist also has a social and solidarity fiber. Since 2018, he has been calling on disabled collaborators in partnership with specialized structures such as ESAT (French settlement and work assistance service). Trained with William Amor’s know-how, the team works on the artist’s projects. In addition to interior design decors, the up-cycler designer creates small, delicate compositions such as a jewelry series. An opportunity to adorn oneself with pretty floral messages!

Flower decoration in the Guerlain boutique on the Champs-Elysées
Clematis flower
Flowers in recycled plastic bottles. William Amor
Above left: floral creation "Tulipa" in plastic bottle. Paris Design Week. Mariott Renaissance hotel. Above right: Yves Rocher trophy
Mimosa made from cigarette butts

Créations Messagères
William Amor
4 A, Villa du Lavoir
75010 Paris




Penthouse of the 32 East First Street New York designed by the renowned interior designer Mathieu Lehanneur has been awarded Model Apartment of the year by  the NYCxDESIGN Awards that honors outstanding projects and products in categories that span major areas of design.

Most of the furnitures were featured at the “AD Intérieurs” exhibition in Paris, France in 2018.

Mathieu Lehanneur collaborated and invited Par Excellence craftsmen to conceive the pieces for an immaculate meditation room. For the very first time the French designer entrusted all our partners to fabricate a collection of furniture, that we can admire now at the penthouse! Each of our partners has made an incredible contribution.


Endless Knot wall lamp by Ateliers Saint-Jacques and Ozone

Shape of Silence Sideboard by Jouffre and Ateliers Saint-Jacques 

Siamese Mirrors by Ateliers Saint-Jacques

Twisted Infinity suspension by Declercq Passementiers and Ozone 

Flat Hole Rug by La Manufacture de Tapis de Bourgogne

Straw Marquetry Table by Lison de Caunes





Photos by Evan Joseph