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