Name: Alexandra Champalimaud
Company: Champalimaud Design
Position within company: President and Principal Designer
. Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
Early on, I realized my strengths centered around pure creativity. I felt encouraged by people’s positive reactions to my sketches and design concepts and so I decided to pursue my studies at the Espirito Santo Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal- one of the world’s last remaining colleges teaching the history of European decorative arts, contemporary design as well as techniques of historic preservation and restoration. In school, I began to look for a way to integrate my talents into a potential career. A professor from university guided me in the right direction and hired me to work with him on what became my first hotel project – the Vila Lara in the south of Portugal. It was a huge success and more hospitality and residential work followed… During the beginning stages of my career, I learned that I loved the creative journey of transforming places but never dreamed I would be as passionate and as entirely engaged in my work as I am today.
. How would you describe your personal design style?
I would hope that others would see my interior design as sophisticated, grounded in classical design, paired-back, and modern with an edge. I like to design spaces that are well proportioned, detailed beautifully, layered, open, fluid and easy on the eye. I design with consistency and longevity in mind.
. Where does your design inspiration come from?
Inspiration is all around us, but since I travel a great deal, I am fortunate to be exposed to more than most. I am presented with references and inspiration for my own work in the least obvious of circumstances and places, old and new each provoke observation and thought. Contemporary public buildings and modern architecture by the greatest architects of our time are a great source of inspiration, the presence and personality of these structures, their materials, form and function, and the dynamics of the interior spaces are all provocative and the sheer inventiveness of these buildings are very influential to me.
. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
In general I find that people all over the world are looking for higher quality, and the integrity of a design. Universally, people want to express their individuality through more highly personalized bespoke designs – both in architecture and interiors. We are emerging from a flashy, excessive, materialistic period, and we are experiencing a return to value, substance and character. There is a higher level of consciousness about consumption and people are searching for more meaning in the products they buy. It is no surprise there is a renewed reverence for hand craftsmanship.
. Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2014 and beyond.
1. Enduring design is in, disposable design is out.
2. Nurturing and tranquil spaces. The consumer desires a new type of “kindness” in interiors that compliments a healthier, balanced lifestyle.
3. Privacy. We are seeing a move to compartmentalize space to achieve more discretion in hotel design.
4. What is old is new again. Hyper modern is giving way to a more European sensibility and traditional approach.
5. The Lobby Lounge. Vast, underutilized open spaces are becoming more intimate, social and engaging to accommodate younger guests who want to work and still remain in a social environment, not sequestered in their hotel rooms. Integrating retail and F&B components to lobbies to generate more revenue and provide a social hub.
. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design, what would it be?
Start by analyzing your lifestyle. Your home décor should inspire you but it also needs to be practical. And one of the most important rules of thumb, no matter your taste, is to bring in light wherever and whenever possible.
. What projects are you currently working on?
We are looking forward to the opening of The Gainsborough Spa Hotel this summer. The 5-star, 99-room property, sits atop the vestiges of a Roman Settlement and the remains of ancient Roman Baths in Bath. The design pays homage to Bath’s classical roots in a fusion of contemporary style and Georgian–era influences, appointed with all the modern amenities that we are confident will make for an unforgettable luxury stay. Farther afield, we have been commissioned to design a number of prestigious luxury properties in Asia, which are currently underway including the Waldorf in Chengdu, the Starwood-owned St. Regis in Jakarta, Ritz Carlton in Kuala Lumpur, and a collection of luxury residences in Hong Kong. In New York, two Upper East Side brownstones and the Atterbury Mansion which were formerly owned by the Whitney Museum are being transformed into bespoke condominiums with Champalimaud designed interiors. Simultaneously, we are collaborating with CIM & Magnum Real Estate Group on a new lobby and various amenities, including a café and lounge, at the luxury residential development 140 West in Tribeca. We will be bringing a contemporary vision to the landmark structure, which was originally built by acclaimed Art Deco architect Ralph Walker for the New York Telephone Company in 1927.
. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
As in all of our work, we aim to continue creating memorable spaces that people want to return to.
In some exciting news, we will soon be offering a greater breadth of services. We are grateful to have attracted some of the best talent in the industry to our form and are in the process of developing an architecture and development are of our business, which is very exciting.
We are also continuing to develop the Champalimaud product collections (both rugs and fabric) and I envision a furniture line in our near future.
. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
A bronze Madonna and child on my night table that was given to me by my mother.
Your favourite holiday destination?
Harbour Island. It is wonderfully laid back, unspoiled, and local.
Your favourite food and drink?
My fridge is stocked with Vita Coco Coconut Water, Cote d’Or Belgian chocolate, and Champagne.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
At home in Litchfield with my family surrounded by my three new grand children and two English Field Spaniels.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I love my profession and would not trade it for any other. Designing is the most clear thing in my life – it is incredibly fulfilling and uplifting.