Barbara Beckmann
1939 - 2018
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Barbara Efting Beckmann


Barbara Efting Beckmann passed away on August 1 at her home in Sonoma, California. A textile designer known for exquisite hand-painted fabrics and leathers, Barbara began her career designing sportswear fabric for Brewster Finishing and Design in New York. While there, she began to acquire her extensive knowledge of all aspects of the printing and styling process. Because of her expertise, she was able to adhere to the highest standard of quality in her products while using environmentally friendly all-natural fibers and non-toxic agents.
Barbara designed utilitarian items, like the famous Snoopy sheets, as well as fabrics for prestigious fashion designers. Among her many achievements in her early career was the chance to participate in a show staged by the Brooklyn Museum featuring Barbara along with Richard Avedon and Elaine de Kooning. While living in New York City, she met and married Jon Beckmann, a book editor and teacher. After moving to California in the 1970s, Jon began his long and successful tenure as the publisher for Sierra Club Books. In 1983, Barbara launched the eponymous Barbara Beckmann Designs, Inc.
From a small factory in San Francisco, her business expanded both nationally and internationally. Her designs have graced the interiors of palaces, hotels, private planes, yachts, embassies, and important properties around the world, including the White House.
Barbara was born and raised in Chicago. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a BFA degree, Barbara studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pratt Institute, and later at the University of California at Berkeley. She taught textile design at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and the University of California, Berkeley Extension. She was an active member of HIA, NEWH, ASID, DFA and the Foundation for Design Integrity. In 2008, she received the IFDA Trailblazer Award for outstanding achievement in the interior design industry. For several years, she was an active member of the DeYoung Museum's Arts Council Board. In her résumés, Barbara liked to add that she had illustrated several children's books.
Barbara was known for her boundless optimism, warmth, and generosity to friends, colleagues, and competitors. About her towering reputation in her chosen field, an industry leader said, "An icon has died but her designs live on." Barbara continued to develop and display new design concepts up until her death. Her family is exploring ways to ensure that her remarkable design legacy endures for future generations to enjoy.
Barbara is survived by her sister Beth Buhler, her niece Lisa Donlan, Lisa's husband Patrick Donlan, and their two sons Sean and Andrew.
There will be a Celebration of Life on October 3rd from 5pm-7pm at the Galleria Design Center, 101 Henry Adams St, in San Francisco. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Barbara Beckmann Textile Design Scholarship c/o the IFDA Educational Foundation, 2401 Harbor Island Road, New Bern, NC 28562 (please indicate that the donation is specifically for this scholarship).

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Sep. 1 to Sep. 2, 2018.
Celebration of Life
05:00 - 07:00 PM
Memories & Condolences
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15 entries
November 19, 2018
I am so sad to hear of Barbara's passing. We were business associates and friends for so many years. May my dear friend be resting peacefully now. I will miss her undaunted spirit and forever hopefulness.
laurie fee
September 26, 2018
I met Barbara in the elevator at our Park Telegraph condos in SF about 25 years ago. We chatted all the way down the elevator before realizing that she was THE Barbara Beckman whose fabrics i had known, loved, and purchased many times as an interior designer. She was just delightful..friendly, enthusiastic, and extremely humble. I am so glad i got to meet her, and so sorry to hear of her passing. Sending love to all the family.

Kay Heizman
Kay Heizman Design, ASID
Kay Heizman
September 24, 2018
What a remarkable lady! She was my teacher and mentor. I always told people that when I grow up I want to be just like Barbara; not only a fantastic designer but a person with the most generous soul.
sharon m
September 24, 2018
Her inspiration in my garden
Barbara was a great lady! I remember working with her during the creation of Idea House! She was a great inspiration to me! She will live through her designs!
Joe Ruggiero
September 24, 2018
My sincere condolences to Barbara's family. Barbara was a gifted designer and lovely person, inside and out. I will miss her.
Kathleen Kelley
Interior Designer & Artisan San Francisco
September 21, 2018
I met Barbara over 20 years ago and have been friends with her ever since. We would visit each other in Sonoma/Napa or Las Vegas and had so many wonderful times together. Her zest for life and caring demeanor were unparalleled. I will miss our many long talks about our work, love and life. May you rest in peace, dear Barbara.
September 16, 2018
Barbara and I met in Sonoma just three years ago. I was so grateful for the interesting conversations we had and to hear from her the many stories of her accomplished life and career. She will be missed - her kindnesses and joy are special memories. Julie Jones
September 11, 2018
Barbara was one of the happiest people on the planet. I had the pleasure of photographing her and her work for the past several years and know she is resting peacefully.
-Timothy D. Manning
Timothy Manning
September 8, 2018
What an incredible career! Barbara shared a little about her work with me but I'm amazed she didn't share more, how humble but I imagine she was simply present. Barbara was one of my favorite friends of my parents.
With my deep condolences to her dear sister whom I've met, family and closest friends.
With love, Leila Wolfert
Leila Wolfert
September 4, 2018
Barbara had a boundlessly talented, generous soul. Sonoma and the design industry will miss her terribly. I feel so privileged to have been the recipient of her warmth and friendship. She was truly one of a kind.
Esther Dunbar-Cullum
September 4, 2018
My sincere tribute to my friend, the talented Barbara Beckmann, whose qualities included genuine and caring sweetness together with a gently indomitable spirit. It was an honor to exhibit her designs at the Merchandise Mart those many years. Rest in peace, Barbara.
Peg Callard
September 3, 2018
Hello, my name is Barbara Henriksen daniel, I grew up in park ridge , Illinois living just 2 doors down from the Eftings , Beth and Barbara sisters were friends of mine , neighborhood friends, walking to the bus friends. I think of all our neighbors back then a social group, barbara was a artist and I looked up to her. Wanting to be a artist myself I never realized her successes as California was a long way from Illinois , but reading her obituary I can certainly say she acquired such great achievements. I knew her as a high school senior Beth a few years younger . I wish I would have been able to know her as a adult to see her work and just visit.
Barbara Henriksen Daniel
September 3, 2018
Sad to read of her passing....She was an amazing artist and equally talented teacher....I had the good fortune to take a class from her over a decade ago.....
Diane Rosen
September 2, 2018
Great Lady.
Penelope De Paoli
September 2, 2018
Barbara Beckmann shared her many talents as a textile designer through her showroom at the Design Center in
San Francisco. Her artwork can be seen in many famous hotels throughout the world.
I enjoyed the time I had as a show room representative for her many products.
Show was a loving and loyal friend.
So much fun to be with.
Char Penniman
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