Purvi Padia: A Life Of Design + Philanthropy

Discovering your calling amid a successful career in fashion as an interior designer is just what happened to Purvi Padia, who established her studio, Purvi Padia Design, in New York City in 2008. But what is so advantageous to having a background in fashion, is that your aesthetic is honed and refined.

Padia’s portfolio is chock-full of neutral-toned luxe interiors that are not only luxurious, but livably comfortable. The lines and colors harken the work of historic legend, Jean Michel Frank, with a touch of mid-century modern and neutral-hued maximalism. Her sense of balance is so on-point that any of her designs would work in both traditional or contemporary architectural homes. Her family’s home in Bridgehampton is her “favorite place on earth.”

In 2012, her work received the Best of Remodeling Award from Houzz, an online platform for residential remodeling and design, chosen by the more than 1.2 million registered members of their avid community. Purvi Padia Design was also selected for the 2020 Best of Manhattan Award in the Interior Designer category by the Manhattan Award Program and is also an  Honoree in Interior Design in Luxe Interiors + Design’s 2020 Gold List. Most recently, Padia designed a room she dubbed The Lioness for the Kaleidoscope Project at the historic bed and breakfast Cornell Inn located in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Beyond her amazing work, her passion for philanthropy also runs deep. Padia has sat on a number of non-profit boards including Girls Inc, UNICEF Next Generation, and UNICEF USA, to name a few. In 2018 Padia founded Project Lion, as a UNICEF initiative. The focus is to improve the lives of India’s 1.5 million orphaned children who live in impoverished conditions and endure lives deprived of basic human rights. Since the start of the program, Project Lion has reached more than 582,000 children. In addition, she collaborated with London Jewelers to create the Lioness collection which found an early celebrity following, and 100 percent of proceeds go to support UNICEF Project Lion.

We talked to Padia to learn more about her intense life of design and philanthropy and how she managed through the pandemic.

Courtesy Purvi Padia Design

Purvi, you started your career in the fashion industry designing showrooms. Can you tell us about your beginnings and how that history morphed into such an in-demand interior design firm? Did you study interior design?

Yes! I started in the beauty fashion world straight out of college and worked as a buyer for Bloomingdale’s. I was there for a short while and then was recruited by one of the brands I bought for which was in the entrepreneurial stage. The CEO at the time gave me this huge job as the head of sales and marketing — I was maybe twenty-two years old. I couldn’t believe he put so much faith in me, but he believed I could do it, and that was my first real exposure to a start-up and I think many years later, it’s actually what gave me the courage to start my own company. It was a crazy learning experience. While in the marketing world, I realized showroom design was actually the favorite part of my job so I decided to go to Parsons in New York City in the field of interior design and then launched my firm in 2008.

What is your design philosophy that we can see interpreted in your interiors?

With each project I focus on bringing luxury, timeless style, and functionality while maintaining the values and aesthetics of each individual client. A room should feel like the people who will live, work, and play there. If the client’s personality and needs aren’t the first inspiration, it won’t feel as authentic or inviting as we want. We spend time working with clients to identify what’s most important to them and go from there. Our job is to realize and implement the client’s vision in its most beautiful and comprehensive form while integrating our signature style.

“A room should feel like the people who will live, work, and play there,” said Padia. “If the client’s personality and needs aren’t the first inspiration, it won’t feel as authentic or inviting as we want.”

When the pandemic hit, how did you pivot everything going on with your business and teams? How is it going now in terms of new waves emerging and the industry?

Working during the pandemic was a bit of a struggle. My team and I weren’t able to attend as many site visits on our projects since we were working remotely. We had to shift to Zooms and it was a challenge trying to stay creative, but like every company we did our best to adapt. Towards the end of 2020 though, the industry picked back up and we’ve been full steam ahead for all of 2021.

Are there any trends that our readers need to know about? What are you excited about?

I never really subscribe to the idea of trends when it comes to interiors. Interiors are not like fashion — people don’t change their homes every season. So I feel strongly about creating homes that are trend-free yet still very of the moment. The best design feels current but also withstands the test of time.

What are some of your favorite go-to magazines, websites and/or books for design inspiration?

1stdibs.com is a favorite of mine and the perfect online source that I reference a lot. There is an abundance of amazing pieces that range from decor, art, jewelry, and fashion. Business of Home provides daily news of the home industry and in-depth analysis which is great to read. Architectural Digest and Elle Décor are great publications that showcase gorgeous projects in an authentic voice. They also feature ideas from top architects and designers in our industry, and I love seeing what other designers are doing.

You are very involved in philanthropy and are on the boards of several organizations, which we love here at James Lane. Can you tell us about them?

Yes! Philanthropy — specifically humanitarian work with a focus on children is one of my life’s greatest passions. UNICEF Project Lion is an initiative I founded and takes up most of my philanthropic effort, but I have also served on a number of other boards such as Girls Inc NYC, UNICEF Next Generation, and the boards of my children’s private schools.

Can you go more in-depth about UNICEF’s Project Lion? Why is this cause so important to you that you created it?

I am a first-generation Indian-American. I was born in New York City to two doctors, but I spent a lot of time in India as a child. Even at such a young age I couldn’t reconcile how all these children who looked like me and were also Indian had lives that were so tragic and impoverished. I never forgot about the conditions and particularly among its youth and as soon as I was in a position to make some kind of impact, there was no question that I would take that opportunity. In 2018, I founded Project Lion, as a UNICEF initiative. Lion’s goal is to improve the lives of India’s 1.5 million orphaned children who live in impoverished conditions and ensure they are granted their basic human rights as well as elements all children need to thrive such as healthcare, education, socialization, and some kind of family structure. The program also puts non-institutional, family-based alternative care for children on the agenda of 12 state governments and the national government of India.

Do you have a favorite project that you designed?

Yes! My family’s home in Bridgehampton is quite literally my favorite place on earth. The inspiration was to create a home that felt like a resort, and there is no place that I feel more at peace.

Do you miss visiting India?

I can’t wait to get back there once the pandemic is a bit more under control. Part of my soul will always live there and be with those kids.

How do you enjoy your downtime?

I split my time between our homes in Bridgehampton, New York City, and the Bahamas with my husband, Harsh, and our two children. I love interiors, but I have a real passion for entertaining and take such pleasure in curating beautiful tabletop designs. I also love travel and tennis. During the pandemic, it was so fun to help my 9-year-old daughter Reven start her own business, house of neveRland. During quarantine, she dreamed up her own collection of bespoke home decor items. She added sweet personal touches with hand processed dip dye and signature graffiti art. It’s been a joy being able to spend more time with her and help her grow her business.

To learn more about Padia or to view her portfolio, visit www.purvipadia.com.

Ty Wenzel

Co-Publisher & Contributor

Ty Wenzel started her career as a fashion coordinator for Bloomingdale’s followed by fashion editor for Cosmopolitan Magazine. She was also a writer for countless publications, including having published a memoir and written features for The New York Times. She is an award-winning writer and designer who covers lifestyle, real estate, architecture and interiors for James Lane Post. Wenzel is also a co-founder of the meditation app for kids, DreamyKid, and the social media agency, TWM Hamptons Social Media.

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