Claudia Urvois: Interior Designer and mother. Born in France, to a Breton father and a Mexican mother.
"I grew up in New York, Madrid and Chicago, and moved on to London, Paris, and Shanghai for professional reasons. My husband and I met while living in Shanghai, where we had our first child and decided to move back to London. I then opened the London office of my Interior Design studio, and since our family has grown with the arrival of our second child"
What makes you feel empowered?
Learning from my mistakes and knowing that with age comes a bit of wisdom. This helps having a sense of confidence and certainty.
What elements of your upbringing do you incorporate into your daily life?
Kindness, generosity and honesty help me stay in a calmer state of mind, more at ease with myself.How have you carried your heritage with you?
Well, I was told I was half Breton, a quarter Indian, and a quarter Russian. Growing up we did go to visit my father’s family in Britany and, I was quite close to my grandmother and her best friend. They both told me stories of their youth, as two of the few women working on the harbour as fishmongers, the war, Breton traditions…
Yet I still, to this day, have never met anybody on my mother’s side and, I never heard much about them. I travelled around India for a summer with a girlfriend, and I did a summer internship at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. I went to these countries to try and understand where my family came from, and frankly I did not feel very attached to either country.
Then a few years ago, I learned that my mother is actually Mexican – not Indian, not Russian. So, I was back to the starting blocks in terms of understanding where I am from. Sure, I felt a bit confused, but I am not upset or sad in anyway. It turns out my heritage is more what values and beliefs my family gave me, and the traditions and values of the cultures I grew up in.
What was the moment when you realized that being an Interior Designer was your calling?
I studied History of Architecture at Northwestern University in Chicago, and even though I really enjoyed it, I really struggled with the writing. I understood that it would be really difficult for me to be an Art Historian and, decided to start looking into the design world.
I remember visiting my older sister while she was at architecture school. All students were really passionate and worked really hard, to the point of physical exhaustion. I thought “OK! I am NOT going to be an architect, this is insane! What could I do in this similar very functional design world?"
So, I studied Product Design, at Central Saint Martins in London. After graduating, the Parisian agency I worked for introduced me to Interior Designer and that’s when it clicked! I was able to look at the bigger picture within an already established space. I enjoy working out how materials and finishes complement each other, and how artificial light will transform it all at night. It is the exercise of overseeing all of these aspects and making sure they all work together that make it such an enjoyable job.
How do you want people to feel when they receive your service?
Happy, relaxed and proud of what we have achieved together. Clients have trusted me with their home renovation, and it is a long process with many decisions to make. I believe that true collaborations are the key to successful projects.
Can you take us with you to Madrid? What are the sounds, sights, and smells that resonate with you?
The sound of late-night loud chit chat in the never sleeping streets of the city centre, the smell of figs in the early autumn, and of pine trees after much longed-for rain. I really loved seing how all generations are out on the streets late at night sharing their joy of life.
How does your heritage/where you are from impact your work as an interior designer?
Both my parents worked in fashion for Loewe when we lived in Madrid. From a young age, I was introduced to the world of fabrics, colours, textures and design detail. Now, in my projects, I really enjoy the spatial design phase where I look at the flow of the space, the way sunlight enters, just as much as the minute details of how a piece of hardware is set on a door, why a specific material is chosen over another, or how a window sill should be designed and built into the wall.
I also think my mother’s Mexican upbringing gave her a love for bold colours which she passed on to me. The Mediterranean sun is something I really miss, and I am constantly trying to get as much sunlight as possible into the spaces I create.
How do you define success?
With happiness – understanding what truly makes me happy, and now trying to get our children to understand that as well.
What have been your biggest learnings in life so far?
That’s it is OK to get not do it all, to be be able to say no to things in order to do the rest as best we can.
What have been your biggest lessons, biggest challenges, and biggest rewards as a designer/mother? Have you had any pivotal life changing moments?
I am still on the learning path!
I suppose each big life change has its challenges. Our latest move being the move from Shanghai to London and opening a Design Studio again, this time with 2 young children. I am very lucky to have had the chance to be able to juggle both work and family in what I believe to be a balanced way.
What is your favourite piece of Indoi?
I love the silk gold polka dot range: Rissy Pant, Frida Jacket & Bels Blouse. I wish I could remarry my husband so that I could get married in these clothes, they look amazing and easy to dance the night away in!
I love the shine of the fabric, the beautiful soft curved silhouette and just how elegantly timeless the pieces are.
Claudia is wearing the Rimi Tunic Dress. SHOP the look here.