2021 Alpha Award recipient Tham Kannalikham is the founder/principal of Kannalikham Design LLC, a boutique design firm located in New York. Born in Laos, Tham began her design career at Ralph Lauren Home where she distinguished herself through interior design projects for the company’s VIP clients. After departing Ralph Lauren in 2006, Tham worked exclusively for a private client on multiple family-owned properties within the United States. These projects enabled Tham to work alongside a diverse array of leading architects and craftsmen.

Since founding her eponymous firm in 2012, she has overseen the restoration of a large landmark property in North Carolina. This restoration encompassed not only the preservation of the main house but the revitalization of the gardens, historic rice fields, and surrounding longleaf forest. She is currently spearheading the development of a research and archival museum related to the property, including the historical impact of its original owners on North Carolina’s history.

In partnership with the General Services Administration (an independent agency of the United States government), Tham had the immense honor to work on refurbishing and restoring the White House from 2017 to 2020. Tham approached the position as one which transcended the confines of typical residential redecoration. Her work focused on preserving and restoring previously neglected areas of the 221-year-old building. Throughout the transformation process, Tham’s love of American design and contemporary American craftsmanship helped reinstate a level of decorative fidelity to historic precedent which might otherwise have been disregarded. Her emphasis on historical accuracy highlighted the sacred responsibility of White House designers to ensure that this venerated home retains its structural integrity, its beauty, and its centrality as a symbol of American cultural heritage. As a true beneficiary of the “American dream,” Tham hopes her legacy of historic preservation will celebrate the immeasurable cultural and economic contribution to this country by those who have sought and found a better life within its borders.

As a boutique firm, Kannalikham Design maintains a small and select clientele. Tham directly oversees each and every project, which ensures the finished result reflects her unique inspiration and style. She maintains a commitment to historical detail and preservation balanced by the contemporary demands of modern life. Her abiding interest in design history was nurtured in her early career by a mentor who instilled an appreciation for American decorative arts as well as a commitment to architectural preservation and archives. That example led to her ongoing engagement in a range of scholarly organizations within the design community. Tham is a current member of the President’s Council at the Institute of Classical Architecture and serves on the organization’s Travel Committee. An active supporter of The Alpha Workshops, Tham also sponsors God’s Love We Deliver, whose mission is to alleviate hunger in those battling illness. In 2020, she found TED, an educational foundation designed to mentor aspiring women in the fields of interior design and architecture.

Please join us on Tuesday, May 18 at 7pm to celebrate awardee Tham Kannalikam.


Questions about the 2021 Alpha Awards? Please email hlarson@jbfcs.org.