George M. Beylerian
For over 40 years, George M. Beylerian has created and enriched design awareness in the United States. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, he spent his apprenticeship in Germany and graduated from New York University with a degree in business. Beylerian’s first business, renowned design store Scarabaeus, was one of the first in New York to launch the new ‘Italian Look’. Known for its colourful mix of contemporary Italian furnishings, unusual art and experimental objects, he then launched smaller versions of the store, Beylerian at Home, in department stores. The stores contained an exciting mix of utilitarian home furnishings produced in America with the Kartell brand.
He then launched Beylerian Limited, a contract furniture collection that was singled out by architects across the United States. Soon after, Steelcase bought the company and the brand, and incorporated it into its newly formed division, the Steelcase Design Partnership. George M. Beylerian became its Vice President of Marketing and Creative Director. In his ten years at Steelcase he organised several exhibitions, including Edible Architecture, Women of Design and Chairmania. Mondo Materialis, an experimental exhibition with materials, became the impetus for creating the materials library Material ConneXion in 1997.
‘Having spent most of my career in the furniture field, I was happy to visit furniture fairs to see exciting new designs and discover companies with avant-garde ideas, but it was rare that I would notice the people in the stand rather than the products. But in this particular case I became fascinated by this young person with twinkling eyes and a wonderful smile… It was our friend Jan, trying to welcome me to his beautiful furniture collection. He wasn’t trying to “sell” me furniture, but just greeting his visitors with his open heart and wonderful personality. I didn’t place an order, because our contact took over the commercial side of our meeting.
Our relationship continued to develop on this basis, exchanging wonderful conversations about their new house in Cape Town, common friends and acquaintances, and so forth. Lars was not in the picture in the early days, but now we have every reason to take time to celebrate our friendship on occasions like the dinner my wife Louise and I had with them a few weeks ago here in New York. We hope to spend many good times together in the years to come. Congratulations to both of them for building up such a wonderful business, and with so many friends. Happy, happy, happy!’