Life has been an extraordinary adventure for me,” says Alexandra Champalimaud, “and the experience has enriched my work.” The internationally acclaimed designer grew up in Portugal, with time spent at boarding schools in England and Switzerland. She married into one of Portugal’s leading families, and was launching her interior design career when, on the eve of the nation’s 1974 revolution, she and her family fled the country; they left in the middle of the night and moved to Montreal. Inspired by designers as varied as Eileen Gray and David Hicks, and the rigor of Mies van der Rohe, Champalimaud won prestigious commissions, including the law office of Pierre Trudeau, the charismatic former prime minister of Canada. The elegant furniture she designed for him was recently auctioned to benefit his foundation. In 1993 she relocated to New York, where her team of specialists has grown to 40 and is still expanding. Two-thirds of their work is in resorts and hotels, the rest in high-end residences. “I’ve lived on four continents, speak four languages, and that makes me comfortable doing design pretty much anywhere in the world,” says the widely traveled tastemaker.