This year, the Fashion Institute of Technology’s (FIT) Interior Design department honors Interior Design Hall of Fame member and long-time mentor Alexandra Champalimaud with its 2019 Lawrence Israel Prize. The prestigious award, endowed by architect Lawrence J. Israel and presented annually since 1998, spotlights ideas and work that enrich FIT Interior Design students' course of study—FIT’s Interior Design program, DesignIntelligence, is a rigorous, multidisciplinary program that combines academic study with hands-on experience.
Champalimaud, founder of the now New York-based studio Champalimaud Design, built her career on grit and intuition. She first opened her design studio in Montreal, Canada more than 30 years ago after fleeing political unrest in Portugal, and quickly gained international acclaim for her work.
"My life has taken me around the world; I’ve had projects on every continent, and it always comes down to how I intuitively feel about a space—the proportion, scale, and symmetry," she says in a previous interview with Interior Design. The designer is known to lean into design challenges, rather than stray from them, taking on residential and hospitality interiors projects, including the revival of Raffles Singapore, Monkey Island Estate in Bray-on-Thames, and Troutbeck in upstate New York.
FIT selected Champalimaud for this year's prize because of her identity as an entrepreneur and uncompromising aesthete—which comes from personal experiences, intellectual curiosity, and openness—and the way she serves as a role model for design students, according to a statement released by FIT. The award also spotlights Champalimaud's vast application of color, pattern, texture, and her understanding of the foundations and principles of classic design.
The designer will discuss her work and share insights about the future of the field in a talk at FIT’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre on Thursday, November 21 at 6 p.m.