What is your job title?
Principal & Founder at Purvi Padia Design
What are 3 words you would use to best describe yourself?
Compassionate, Driven and Grateful
How did you get started in your design career?
I started my career in corporate design for beauty/ fashion brands. During my 8 years of work in the beauty / fashion industry, I learned countless lessons about design, project management, client relations and marketing. However, during those years, I always felt something was missing and that there had to be a way for me to feel even more professionally fulfilled. Since I was a little girl, entrepreneurship was a dream of mine; and while I loved fashion & beauty, I soon realized interiors were my true passion. So, I went back to school and got my degree in interior design. I launched my firm in 2009. Having my own company has been an unbelievable amount of work, but it has also taught me so much about what I'm capable of and has been hugely gratifying. Interior design has so many similarities to the beauty/ fashion world, but I love the added layer of intimacy that creating a home for a specific client allows.
How have your children helped inspire your work?
My children inspire me everyday. It was actually when I was pregnant with my son, that I realized how precious life is and how I should make sure that I am spending each day doing something I love. He's now almost 9, and he loves the idea that he had something to do with me following my passions. My children are a constant reminder to inject joy into my work and to always keep things in perspective. Their optimistic outlook on life and philosophy of endless possibilities inspires me not only to push the boundaries in my design work but also in my life as a whole.
What are your favorite home decor brands for children's bedrooms and nurseries?
I love designing children's rooms - it's a time I can really be creative and let my playful side shine through. I am a big believer that children's rooms should always feel a bit magical, but they should also have a sense of understated sophistication so the child can grow with the room throughout their childhood. Some of my favorites for children's furnishings are Restoration Hardware Baby & Child, Duc Duc and Serena & Lily. I'm a fan of Sissy & Marley and Trove for whimsical wall coverings and Bella Notte for bedding. Most importantly, I like to include elements that are not from a traditional kids showroom such as a show-stopping chandelier, a really cool chair in an unexpected fabric, a hand-woven vintage rug or a piece of art that connects to the child and his/ her interests. These elements are what makes the room feel authentic and unique.
Who is a female role model you admire and greatly respect in your field?
There are so many amazing women in my field, and I consider myself lucky to have so many wonderful role models to help guide my journey. The woman who has served as my greatest inspiration though is Kelly Wearstler. I love everything she stands for both in the way she has developed her business and her design philosophy itself. She has created an empire by not being afraid of taking chances and being different. When she started out, she was a pioneer in her style of design and rather than try to fit into the design landscape, she made it a point to stand out. That energy and confidence is what I admire most. Her design is over the top yet relatable and luxurious yet comfortable. In my eyes, it is design done perfectly. And of course the fact that she has accomplished all of this all while raising a family is even more impressive.
How do you help families stay organized and neat with your design? What are some great tips for keeping kid's spaces tidy?
As the majority of our clients are-NYC based, space and storage are always two key considerations. While I pride myself on creating beautiful spaces, functionality is just as important. After all, homes are not museums. So, we make it our mission to design homes that truly meet the needs of each individual family. We are big on creating tons of storage in any space the children will be in and making sure that the storage itself is a design feature. We often use side or work tables that have a removable tabletop and can do double duty as a toy storage bin. Built-in millwork in a fun finish like a high gloss lacquer can house tons of books, art supplies, board games and a host of other things without taking up a large footprint of space. And so many retailers now are offering great canvas bags with leather handles, pom poms or embroidery that are adorable on the floor of a playroom or a kids bedroom, and they are great way to quickly store a mess! I am a fan of doing labels in a stylish, kid friendly way so the kids can also help keep the space organized. For example, you can embroider a set of canvas bins with words (or pictures for the toddler set) with labels such as art, books, dress up, stuffed animals etc and then kids can be responsible for putting their toys the right place when it's time to clean up. Finally, I love murals! They are an amazing way to give a child’s space flair and personality, and then elements of the mural can be used in the storage solutions. For example, in a ferris wheel mural, each cart can actually be a storage bin.
Being a career woman, philanthropist, mother and wife, you must have very limited "free time." How do you carve out time for yourself and how do you like to spend that time?
I love how my days are filled with so much variety. I consider myself very lucky to be able to follow so many of my passions and to have the unwavering support of my husband and children, but you're right - "free time" is definitely limited. I really try to make weekends family time. I rarely will make daytime plans on a weekend that don't involve my family. My family is my greatest source of strength and happiness, so getting to spend uninterrupted time with them is the best way for me to both take a breath and re-energize. I'm also a fly barre devotee. That class just makes me feel strong and centered. I make it a priority to get myself there 4-5 times a week. And lastly, my girlfriends are my therapy. I am a firm believer that a glass of wine and some laughs with a dear gal pal can make pretty much any situation seem brighter and better.
What are your favorite children's books and since you have such a stylish eye, what books have your favorite illustrations?
Reading is a special time in our house. I love not only that it introduces my children to new worlds and new possibilities, but also that it provides such intimate, loving and quiet time for our family. I am concerned about how much more scheduled my children are than I was at their age and how much exposure they have to technology at a young age. I love that reading provides an escape from all of this and gets back to the roots of what childhood should be about. There are so many wonderful lessons to be learned from children's books - for both adutls and children! And of course, instilling a love of reading and learning at an early age is something that I think I will serve them well as they approach their school years and their lives on a whole. It is so hard for me to pick only a handful books as I think different kinds of books have different merits, but all of the books that my make list focus on kindness, generosity, self belief and/ or humor. So, here are some of my favorites: The Giving Tree, Where the Wild Things Are, New Kid In Town, The Day the Crayons Quit, Giraffes Can't Dance, and I Want My Hat Back. As for the illustrations, Where The Wild Things Are makes this list as well for me. Some other favorites are Madeline, Swan and Iggie Peck Architect.
What values do you hope to instill in your children?
Raising children is such a privilege. To get to see these little people who you love in a way that is indescribable grow and learn and change is life's most beautiful gift. My children have given me so much and in return, my hope is to give them a foundation that will serve them well for their lifetime. People always tell me (and I completely agree!) how different my kids are from each other, but I take a lot of pride in knowing that the few characteristics they share are the ones that are most important. They are both kind, generous, sweet souls. I hope those are values that stay with them forever. Kindness, gratitude and humility are really big in my book. If they approach life from a place of kindness, gratitude and humility, that would make me one very proud mama.
What inspires you most about UNICEF's work?
From a very early age, I have been motivated by humanitarian causes. My parents have the craziest stories about how I would approach groups of homeless people when I was a child and we would visit developing countries. I don't feel like I want to help people but rather that I need to. It's not really an choice for me. As I got older and especially after having children, that hunger grew, and I spent countless hours trying to figure out how to be most impactful. There are so many worthy causes out there, but for me, improving the lives children has always been my biggest motivator. UNICEF quickly stood out as my first choice for its reputation and its impact. I wanted to be sure to be involved in an organization where the majority of funding went directly to the cause rather than logistics of running it. 90 cents of every dollar donated is programmatic for UNICEF USA which is quite rare among non profit organizations. UNICEF consistently impresses me with their dedication, expertise, breadth, international relations and programmatic diversity. Sitting on the NY Board of UNICEF USA is one of my most proud affiliations.
How have you shared the importance of generosity and giving with your children?
I think teaching by example is the best way. The idea of helping others is something we always talk about. Not only in the philanthropic sense but in the simple sense as well. Like if you see a friend struggling, how can you help? Over the years, my children have seen how important humanitarian work is to me, and each of them have approached me on how they too can get involved. At the age of 3, my son asked me if there was a way he could share the work UNICEF does with his nursery school classmates. I worked with UNICEF USA and his nursery school to create a week long program at his school so the kids could first hand see one of the UNICEF programs. The response was incredible! This year for my daughter's 5th birthday, she wanted to create a Crowdrise page benefitting UNICEF and ask her friends to support that in lieu of presents. Both of my kids are also huge fans of the UNICEF Kid Power program that enables kids to wear a band around their wrists that measures their activity. When they earn a certain number of activity points, they "unlock" packets of food to feed children in the developing world. It is a fun, interactive way for children to help children. Generosity is a core value in our household, and I will do everything in my power to continue to instill this in my children.