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Barbara Beckmann

1939 - 2018
Barbara Beckmann Obituary
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).

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Sept. 2, 2018
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