Portraits of Excellence
Portraits of Excellence: Life
Seven men and women who are changing how we live by providing great civic leadership, elevating luxury standards and redefining comfort.
The Influencer: Alexandra Champalimaud, Founder of Champalimaud Design
“Never before have we traveled as much as we do today,” says interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud. “Hotels have much more of a place in our lives than 20 years ago.”
The Portuguese-born, English-raised head of 35-year-old New York–based Champalimaud Design should know: She is one of the most sought-after hospitality designers working today. Her high-end projects often entail extensive renovations of historic properties, from the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the Fairmont in San Francisco to the Gainsborough Bath Spa in Bath, England. The latter project, built in what was a Victorian-era hospital, was interrupted by the discovery of ancient Roman mosaics underneath the site. Champalimaud fashioned a spa floor that recreates the mosaics’ design while protecting the delicate relics. In a further link to the past, the Gainsborough is the only private facility with a direct connection to the city’s famous mineral waters, first accessed in ancient times.
“You have to honor that something came before us,” she says, “and make that period relevant to our time.” Champalimaud built her firm, which today has projects in North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia, on this philosophy. And though her clients are not limited to hotels—she works on many residences in the U.S. and abroad—her approach to hospitality design informs the way many affluent families style their homes.
“Hotels today need to allow you to recharge,” Champalimaud says. “When guests experience that the right way, they want to see it again—often at home.”