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Legacy of Leadership: Honoring Jeffrey Beers (1956-2024)

Reflections from the New JBI Leadership Team on Vision, Inspiration, and Continuing a Design Legacy
Jeffrey Beers (1956-2024)
Jeffrey Beers (1956-2024)Courtesy of Jeffrey Beers International

In the light-dappled studios of Jeffrey Beers International, a legacy of bold creativity and meticulous craftsmanship endures. The design world recently bid farewell to Jeffrey Beers, a visionary whose fusion of architectural precision with the warmth of artistry redefined the spaces we inhabit. Today, as we sit down with the new leadership team at JBI, we pay tribute to Jeffrey's inspirational journey and enduring influence. Michael Pandolfi, Nora Liu-Kanter, and Tim Rooney reflect on their mentor’s indelible impact, discussing how they will carry forward his innovative spirit and commitment to excellence. This conversation not only revisits the milestones of a remarkable career but also looks ahead to the future of JBI, underlining the seamless transition of vision and creativity that Jeffrey championed, evoking a sense of inspiration and admiration for his work.

Working with Jeffrey:

Q

What did you love most about working with Jeffrey? How did this experience shape your career?

A

Our Founder, Jeffrey, was appreciative, courteous, and honorable, as well as curious, dedicated, and fun. He led by example and always wanted the studio to push design boundaries, giving us creative freedom and collaborative support. 

Reflecting on the past twenty years, during which we’ve been incredibly fortunate to work so closely alongside him, we’ve continued to practice what he instilled in us: work and collaborate by putting colleagues and clients first, mentor and support young and rising talent, and create inviting and memorable spaces across hospitality, entertainment, residential, and commercial practice areas.

Jeffrey Beers and Michael Pandolfi
Jeffrey Beers and Michael PandolfiCourtesy of Jeffrey Beers International

Visionary Leadership:

Q

JBI is a firm that merges the precision of architecture with the sensuality of form, bringing emotion to modernism. Can you discuss the evolution of this signature style and how you each have helped to maintain its integrity while the business grows?

A

We wouldn’t say we have a signature style per se, but Jeffrey was both an architect and an artist; he brought an expressive and thoughtful outlook to interior design. He put his emotions and the feelings of others first when conceiving and designing new restaurants, resorts, residences, and offices. 

However, each of us brings unique skillsets and perspectives to the table—from layout and planning to materials and colors and diplomacy and relationships—and combined, they reinforce the studio’s aesthetic and style and Jeffrey’s sensitivity and passion.

Jeffrey Beers with KEEP Brooklyn at UrbanGlass
Jeffrey Beers with KEEP Brooklyn at UrbanGlassKaitlyn Flannagan

Inspirational Sources:

Q

With a vast array of projects, from vibrant New York restaurants to luxurious international resorts, what were some ways Jeffrey inspired you to do your best work? How do you continually find new sources of creativity and innovation in your work?

A

On every business trip, whether it be a neighboring city like Boston, an island in the Caribbean, or as far as China and South Korea, Jeffrey made sure there was time to explore and discover new locations and regions. He wanted everyone to go for walks, take pictures, try new restaurants and foods, and enjoy an after-work drink at a fun bar. 

He loved to read and research, and our studio has an extensive library of art, architecture, design, culinary, and travel books that anyone can grab and examine.  

So, as Partners, we will continue to push the studio to be curious, inquisitive, and open by constantly exploring, questioning, and studying.

Balancing Artistry and Architecture:

Q

The firm seamlessly blends the warmth of artisanal techniques with the discipline of modern architecture. How did Jeffrey balance these sometimes contrasting elements in his projects, and what is the collaborative process like within your team to achieve this harmony?

A

Jeffrey attended The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in his early years, which encouraged collaboration between the art and architecture schools. His first signature restaurants, like Bar Lui and China Grill, featured his handblown glass and his friends’ artwork and murals. He, therefore, naturally built a studio of diverse creatives, which includes architects, interior designers, artists, brand strategists, culinary experts, etc.

Working with individuals from different backgrounds, generations, and training, the collaborative process at JBI is built upon an openness to new ideas and a willingness to incorporate them into the pursuit of pushing boundaries and creating something new. We thrive on curiosity, strong imagery, and playful ideas, inviting our entire team to be a part of our design journey.

Jeffrey Beers at UrbanGlass
Jeffrey Beers at UrbanGlassMichael George

The Role of Art in Your Work:

Q

Jeffrey wasn’t only an architect but also an artist who enjoyed sculpting with molten glass. How did his passion for art influence his architectural designs, and in what ways did he integrate his artistic sensibility into projects?

A

Jeffrey was incredibly passionate about glass blowing and was a supportive member of UrbanGlass, a non-profit organization dedicated to the art of glass blowing, and served on their board for nearly forty years. Throughout his career, he was known to personally hand blow light fixtures or accents for restaurants, prototypes for resorts, and collaborate with glass artists. For example, he worked alongside KEEP to create a chandelier of 180 multi-colored handblown glass bulbs in downtown Brooklyn.

Jeffrey Beers at UrbanGlass
Jeffrey Beers at UrbanGlassMichael George

Sustaining Innovation:

Q

The design world is constantly evolving with new trends and technologies. As leaders in the field, how do you ensure that Jeffrey Beers International stays at the forefront of innovation while keeping true to the studio’s ethos?

A

We’ve been fortunate to work with so many individuals from different backgrounds, generations, and training; the collaborative process is built upon an openness to new ideas and a willingness to incorporate them into the pursuit of pushing boundaries and creating something new. We thrive on curiosity, strong imagery, and playful ideas.

Partners Michael Pandolfi, Nora Liu-Kanter, and Tim Rooney
Partners Michael Pandolfi, Nora Liu-Kanter, and Tim RooneyErnesto Eisner

Looking Forward:

Q

Looking ahead, what do you each envision for the firm? Are their new projects that excite you the most, and how do you envision the future of architecture and design?

A

In the last three months, we have had several incredible and diverse projects open, including Inspire Entertainment Resort in South Korea, the luxury hotel and casino Fontainebleau Las Vegas, and Sun Princess, Princess Cruises’ newest and largest ship ever to sail the oceans.

As we reflect on the future, our design goal is to continue to make it about human and personal experiences.  The Cove at Atlantis Resort demonstrates the importance of timelessness. One West End residential tower offers a curbside to-pillow experience, Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen in Las Vegas provides an opportunity to feel drama and culinary passion, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation offices in New York provide collaborative meeting spaces and an incredible art collection, while Estiatorio Milos by Costas Spiliadis and Café Boulud by Daniel Boulud is a reminder of our lasting friendships and relationships with our supportive clients and collaborators.

Jeffrey Beers (1956-2024)
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