INTERVIEW - 'I make sure my life is surrounded by quality'

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I have a fundamental belief that one should either do something properly or one shouldn’t do it at all.
— Claire

People with Passion


Who I interviewed: Claire Davidson

Founder and Director of Marketing and Product Development - Urbanara

Passion: Passion for Quality

City: Berlin


I remember the day I met Claire. A meeting was organised to discuss how we could work together, as we thought that their pieces (URBANARA) would be perfect for the Interior Design Projects I was working on.

Walking into the meeting room, I first got to admire their showroom full of wonderful things for home. Apart from letting out a lot of 'Ooooh Aaaaahs' during my wonder, I also noticed how everyone working there was so well-dressed - made me want to go back home and put a little more effort into how I looked! :)

Claire entered the room, and so did her incredible aura. She is beautiful, elegant and definitely knows what she wants. I already knew then that I'd have to interview Claire one day. The day has finally arrived, and her answers have confirmed that she is clearly someone who inspires a lot of people, especially women - not only as a business person, but also as one classy & ambitious lady.

After all the travelling we do, there is nothing quite like coming home. Home right now is Berlin and happiness for me is Saturday breakfast at Engelberg on Oderherger Strasse.
— Claire


Whatever you start make sure you love it, and I mean really love it! Start-up is full of ups and downs, there is no one there to keep you going and tell you that you are doing great, there are no days off.
— Claire


What makes your heart skip a beat 

If I listed everything I felt a passion for, we’d be here all day! I am passionate about so many things – from fantastic food and wine, to finding amazing pieces for my home to great business ideas that change and challenge the way things have always been done.

But in the end there is one passion that connects all of the above; a passion for quality. I have a fundamental belief that one should either do something properly or one shouldn’t do it at all. I spend my life making sure I am surrounded by quality, be it food, music, or design, and I’ve learnt that true quality only comes when you have a genuine love for what you do.  From my local breakfast place to a vintage Eames chair, their creators have all worked hard and with a genuine passion to create something truly special in the world.  I hope our customers see the same principles in what we do at URBANARA.


When did your passion start

From before I can remember; I think I have always been a passionate person!


What's your story and how would you describe yourself

I am British by birth but I would actually describe myself as a bit of a nomad! I was born in London, but left when I was 6. My father is a journalist so we travelled the world spending 10 years in different countries – Belgium, India, Pakistan and the Philippines. I learnt quickly to adapt to new places, cultures and people – and I carry that love of exploring still today.

I then settled for a while in the UK to complete a business degree, and worked in marketing for 7 years in London before being headhunted to join a furniture start-up in Shanghai. Not being used to staying in one place for so long, I jumped at the chance to move to a different culture. It was there that I met my co-founder Benjamin Esser and we began discussing the idea of starting something ourselves.

At the time, we were starting to buy our first homes and were sick of buying at IKEA over and over again, but we had nowhere near the budgets for the big brands. It was from here that the idea of URBANARA was born – a brand focused on high quality, beautiful, interesting homewares at affordable prices. We wanted to build a business that celebrated traditional manufacturing – creating pieces that stand the test of time. We started (and still continue!) the business with the belief that if we wouldn’t put it in our homes, we wouldn’t put it in yours.

Urbanara Store


Who inspires you and why 

I am continuously inspired by strong women who have worked hard to get where they are today. From impressively successful women like Sheryl Sandberg and Christin LaGarde, to my hugely influential Economics teacher (who has sadly now passed away) to my fierce and uncompromising grandmother who would never take no for an answer, these women provide a constant source of inspiration.


Your most memorable experience

In 2007, I was lucky enough to get a table at El Bulli in Spain. At the time voted the best restaurant in the world, you have to apply for a table and then your name is drawn from a lottery! We went as 6 friends and I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life. We arrived at this small restaurant in a quiet and secluded bay as the sun went down. What came next can only be described as pure theatre – an amazing combination of flavours and sensations. I would need an entire day to explain the dinner but it was simply a lovely night filled with amazing food, incredible wines and lots and lots of laugh with friends. A perfect evening, which was completed by being invited to the kitchen to meet the man himself, the head chef Ferran Adria.


Your most valuable possessions 

From the practical to the completely impractical:

1.     My iPhone – how did I live life before?!

2.     Olive oil – makes everything taste amazing

3.     A piece of art I was given for a birthday a few years ago – I see it everyday and it still makes me smile as much as the day I was given it


If you could give advice to people who are in the same professional field as you what would it be...or general advice for life…

People often ask us what is the most important thing in creating and running a successful start-up – and I would say hands down the only advice I can give is: “Whatever you start make sure you love it”, and I mean really love it! Start-up is full of ups and downs, there is no one there to keep you going and tell you that you are doing great, there are no days off. So you need to be sure that everyday when you wake up you are still passionate about what you are doing. That you retain a vision of where you want to go. That you believe in your business 100% - for a start-up to be successful it needs to be genuine and authentic – it has to come from the heart.

< Check out Claire's Recommendations - Get Inspired! >


What has been your proudest moment

We have won awards and plaudits from influential people for URBANARA but in truth I feel most proud every time we get an email from a customer telling us how happy they are with the products, the customer service or the brand – it is this that that keeps me going and keeps me believing that we are doing something right.


Do you know someone who is truly making a difference in this world

I think it’s pretty much impossible to choose one person who is truly making a difference in the world. It may be naive but I would love to believe that everyday, be it big or small, be it on a global scale or at the most individual level everyone strives to make a difference in the world.

That said, if I really had to pick, I would say Medecins Sans Frontieres is an amazing organisation who give a lot to some of the world’s most in need. They could stay at home in their comfortable doctor’s surgeries but instead they go to some of the world’s most dangerous places to help other humans; totally inspiring. 


Living & learning with Passion

INTERVIEW - Street Photographer in Berlin wishes to be invisible

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All Photos were taken by Patricia Fiol, unless stated otherwise.

When I do portraits my main aim is to capture what’s on the inside. The characteristics of the person are as important as what we see on the outside.
— Marga

People with Passion


Who we interviewed: Marga van den Meydenberg

Marga's Passion: Street Photography

City: Berlin


Marga, a Dutch photographer currently based in Berlin, is someone you really won't forget once you meet her. Apart from her calm and loving personality, there are 2 more things that stand out - it's her 'Bike Shop' and her great photographs which put a smile on anyone's face. Marga's work and her general interest in people made her gain 2 more families in her life. One is the solid circle of friends in Berlin who share very similar interests, including her boyfriend Niels who she's been together with for 15 years. Her other family is the circle of people at the markets she frequently attends. The Interview took place at the little hidden paradise called PrinzessinnenGaerten, and there's no surprise that many people stopped by for a little chit chat once they spotted her.

I'd call her the "Gentle & Humble Diva". 

I could stare at people for hours. If I had a wish I’d wish to be invisible, so I can do that all the time.
— Marga

I’m quite mesmerised by people walking around in weird suits - like animal or super-hero costumes.
— Marga



What makes your heart skip a beat

I'm passionate about people in general - watching them how they act and react to daily things in life. I could stare at people for hours. If I had a wish I'd wish to be invisible, so I can do that all the time. I also love the smell of fresh cut grass and I'm quite mesmerised by people walking around in weird suits - like animal or super-hero costumes. 

When did your passion start 

I've always loved art. I was always drawing things that I could constantly see. I was never good at creating abstract art. When I saw something beautiful I always had the urge to document it - looking at the details and putting it down on paper.

That's when I joined the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen. I enjoyed drawing but I knew that it wasn't exactly what I was looking for, so when I started photography classes, I instantly switched. I began to observe and catch special moments in life and I knew that I entered my comfort zone. 

I started photography in high school, where I discovered my fascination for the Dark Room. I fell in love with the whole process of photo development and the techniques used in this room. 

I lived in Rotterdam for 10 years, where I was involved in a lot of social projects and workshops related to photography. Now I live in Berlin since 2012. The reason why I ended up in Rotterdam is because I lived in the south of the Netherlands and my boyfriend lived in the north, so we decided to meet in the middle. 

Street Photography started in Berlin. I had the urge to just go somewhere where I'd spend most of my time just with my camera. So I did that. I saved some money, packed my bag, my camera and took myself to Berlin. I gave myself a challenge to spend 3 months in this city and do nothing else but photography. I went on the streets of Berlin not knowing what I was supposed to do, so I allowed it to free-flow. I photographed whatever I saw and that's how Street Photography came about. 

You need to go to the streets with a complete empty head - that's when you'll see those moments. When you're stressed out, thinking about something else, you just won't see it. If you relax, focus, take a closer look, you'll just see it everywhere. Sometimes it happens right then and there, that's why I make sure my camera is always close. Other times I see a great scenery and kind of predict that something will happen there, so i just wait till it happens - If I wait long enough it always does. 

It doesn't matter what kind of photography I do as long as it's in my style. I did a wedding photo-shoot not so long ago and I was able to do it my way, so that was a real pleasure. 

I like humour, weirdness and off-moments in photography. That’s my style
— Marga

Marga's Work

Street Art


What's your story and how would you describe yourself

To know a little more about me, I have to go back to my childhood. I grew up in a very small village - more specifically on a farm - so I was always playing outside with my sister and my friends. Plenty of greenery and animals around us all the time. That's a part of me that I will always carry with me - my love for the outside. If I stay in for a whole day, I just get the itch to go out. That's why I love coming back to this Cafe (PrinzessinnenGaerten), which turns into a Flee-market every other Sunday, so you'll always find me here (during Spring/Summer - it's closed during Winter). 

I have amazing memories from my childhood. I remember that most of the kids wanted to play at our house, because we had the farm so lots of open space. My parents worked on the farm, which means that they were always at home, so that was great. I left the farm when I went to the Art School, at the age of 18. 

This lifestyle has had a big influence on the way I live today. Our current apartment is actually without a TV, which has turned our home into a more peaceful space. I'm happy not to be a part of the constant brainwashing advertising that's on TV.

When I lived in Rotterdam I loved how the city was so multicultural. That's why I love living in Neukölln, because the vibe is very similar and I enjoy that. 

I'm quite a relaxed person. I hate to rush somewhere and I hate being late. I avoid arguments and confrontations. I like peacefulness and I usually arrive everywhere a little early so I get to soak in the environment and take my time to be aware. 


What are you currently working on

I'm taking part in this cool project - GOETHE - where I have to contribute 1 street photo per week for a whole year. It's a nice challenge!


Your most memorable experience 

The time I decided to go to Berlin and spend 3 months just concentrating on photography. The first morning I woke up in Berlin, was amazing - knowing that it was just me, the camera and the streets of Berlin. 


What's your current obsession

It's got to be beer - specifically Hefeweizen - it's the perfect drink for Flee-Market days. 


Your most valuable possessions 

My Bike. It belonged to my grandfather who used it to collect potatoes. It was at our farm as long as I remember. My first black & white photos were actually of that bike. My dad fixed the bike and was thinking of selling it. I was already selling my photographs, so I thought that the 2 would be a perfect match. I took the bike and created my own 'Bike Shop'. I love it because it carries a lot of personal history, but also for the fact that it simply stands out. 

Kristy's iPhone

What do you dream about 

I love to travel. I of course dream about NYC, because as a street photographer you've just got to go there at least once. That would be my next dream project - to photograph the streets of NYC for 3 months. 

My friend from the Netherlands, who is also a photographer, and I have always wanted to go on a road trip. We've talked about it so many times, so I'm sure it will happen at some point. 

If you could give advice to people who are in the same professional field as you what would it be? or general advice for Life…

It took me a while to figure out what exactly is my style and to be comfortable with what I'm doing. Everything takes time, and even though this has been said many time before, it has to be said over and over again. The most important thing you can do is to just 'Keep Going'. You'll eventually get there, but you can't stop during those times of confusion. You have to go through many phases until you actually reach your goal. People usually think that those phases are there to give them a sign to stop, but that's obviously not true. Stick to what you love doing, but keep being creative and play around with different ideas. 

What's also extremely important is to connect with other photographers (or whatever your field of passion is). Be active with people who are passionate about the same thing and take part in events. 

What does ‘FREEDOM’ mean to you - in your life

Not owning a lot of things. Letting go of the material world. I want to know that I can pack one bag, take my bike and be able to leave. The rest (materialistically speaking) does not matter. 

Marga's Bits & Pieces:

Kristy Asks what are people passionate about & Paty Photographs them...


Other Interviews you Might Like:

Contemporary Dancer in Berlin loves to go Gaga

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All Photos were taken by Patricia Fiol, unless stated otherwise.

Dancing for me is like the oxygen I breathe... It’s the medicine for my body and my mind.
— Maya

People with Passion

Who we interviewed: Maya Gomez 

Maya's Passion: Contemporary Dance

City: Berlin


The multilingual (speaks French, Spanish, Catalan, English and German) and free spirited dancer now living in Berlin tells us how travelling out of her comfort zone changed her life and how important is to keep fighting for what you love. 

I know I’m most passionate when I feel my blood, muscles and bones floating in space.
— Maya



What makes your heart skip a beat?

I specialize in contemporary dance, but this specific dance has many sub-divisions. I look at it like a fan...when you open it up you'll find many different sections. There are lots of different techniques within the contemporary dance too. From all those techniques, I'd choose 5 which I consider my favorite. Each dancer has her/his own personal style within each technique. So many personal movements, some dancers may be working more on the floor, some on the dynamics - there are so many variations of expression. 

I work as a freelance dancer, but I also teach. I know I'm most passionate when I feel my blood, muscles and bones floating in space.

If I had to choose one type of dance for the rest of my life, it would have to be contemporary dance - more specifically a style called Gaga which I absolutely love. Another contemporary dance style I love is called Release - it’s very physical, animalistic and much of it takes place on the floor. From the inspiration of both styles I love to create my own choreographed dance routines. That’s when I enter another world , another universe and get into an almost trance state of mind. Placing your body into open space and feeling the air in that space is what I call ‘Gustoso’ (meaning tasty / enjoyable).

Learn more about Gaga and Release Dance Styles:

When did you know that you're passionate about dance?

It all started when I was 4 in a small school in a village in Switzerland. My sister was already dancing so that inspired me and I of course wanted to dance too. She was dancing ballet so I started with that. I saw my sister wear a tutu, so I wanted one myself. 

You really need to develop your own identity... your own character, because that’s the way you’ll stand out from the crowd. There needs to be a lot of discipline, a lot of fighting for what you do and for your passion.
— Maya

What's your story?

I was born in Switzerland (mom is Swiss and dad is Filipino). I speak Spanish because I lived most of my life in Spain. When I was 10 we moved to Spain, but before we moved there I insisted that we find a dance studio straight away, so my parents made it happen.

My family still lives in Spain, close to Barcelona. They run their own business - a restaurant called NOU FUSION in Rosas, which is around 2 hrs from Barcelona, in Costa Brava. 

Via Nou Fusion

Via Nou Fusion

After a while I felt like the school wasn't challenging enough for me, so when I told my mom she started searching for another school and found the Conservatory Institut del Teatre in Barcelona. I started to train for the auditions and had to learn how to dance Flamenco, which I've never done before - I was always just dancing ballet.

At the conservatory, you’d spend the morning going to general classes and the afternoons would be dedicated to dancing. I started attending at the age of 13 and was there for 6 years. When I finished I auditioned for a small company called IT DANSA and stayed with them for 2 years. It was my first professional experience which was very valuable. The learning environment at school was very different to the one at the company. At school you’re generally just following what others are doing and what others tell you to do, however at the company it was a different story - you really need to develop your own identity...  your own character, because that's the way you'll stand out from the crowd. There needs to be a lot of discipline, a lot of fighting for what you do and for your passion. 

Maya's Bits & Pieces:

I moved to Berlin 2 years ago and I feel like I've changed quite a bit since I got here. When I was working at the company in Barcelona I was always thinking that others were better than me and I never really reflected on myself as much as I do now. When living in Barcelona I felt like I lived in my little made-up nest, but once I arrived to Berlin I started to finally see the real world. 

I would describe myself as a perfectionist. I don’t think I’m the easiest person to handle, if I have an idea then nothing really stops me.

It was easier to move to Berlin, as I already had a friend here who studied at the same conservatory with me. He helped me find my first job, which was at a small company called ART CHANGE. This helped me settle down and get to know the dancing scene in Berlin. They gave me an opportunity to do a solo, which I was extremely happy about, and that's when I could finally express myself fully. I created the choreography and performed it.

So that was my first job in Berlin and then I did an audition for Sasha Waltz  and I got the job - which was a 4 months project in Kalsruhe. It’s a dream come true for any dancer to be working with Sasha Waltz, so I was very lucky to find this audition, as it was kind of a secret. The project took place in an art installation - at ZKM - not in a theater. We were part of the art installation, often changing positions but not moving a great deal. 

After my 4 months project ended I decided to travel to Israel for a month to find out more about the Gaga technique. It originates and was developed in Israel, so it was a very educational and fun month for me. 

Your most valuable possessions?

My turtle which faces the wall in my room. She takes the bad energy from the room and makes it escape through the walls. I bought her in Mexico, so that's what they told me and I've chosen to believe it. 

Coffee would be another thing on the list! It gives me a good kick start to the day.

But with my profession there’s nothing I absolutely need except for my own body and mind. Of course I’m very attached to my family, so that is definitely something I value the most. 

Your most memorable moment in your life?

Me dancing on a stage with around 16 other people. At the end of the show I was improvising on the stage. I used the space that was available for me, so I jumped right in it and once I saw the light focus on me, that's when I felt alive and that's when I realized why I chose to dance. It's worth fighting for those little moments, even if they take just a second.



Right now what’s constantly on my mind is what’s going on in the world - it upsets me. How people treat each other, how they treat the environment, how they treat the animals... it’s a constant worry. How easy it is to destroy the beauty that has been given to us. 

The other day I was in a class where they told us to kick really hard. To make it easier for us to kick harder we were told to imagine kicking another person. It really made me think... why should we want to kick another person? But then I realized that there’s really nothing more destructive in this world than a human being, so yes... I guess it makes sense.

I’d love to have my own company - a studio - one day with my boyfriend Blenard, and be able to work with other dancers. Being able to create an environment that we love. Invite people to festivals where we would create events and create an educational yet fun space for people who love to know more about dance. 

I imagine myself ending up back in Spain - I like the warm weather as well as people who are warm at heart.




Fight for what you want. If you fall down, which happens often in this career,  just stand up and carry on. If you have family who support you, then cherish it because it’s so important to have that during your development. Be open to all the knowledge and experiences from other people. Be open to travelling... you’ll find what you’re looking for, but you never know where, so that’s why it’s so important to be open to possibilities.

I kind of need sad moments in my life to be creative. Sadly, the grey points in your life give artists inspiration - it’s ironic.
— Maya

Kristy Asks what are people passionate about & Paty Photographs   them...


Digital Artist tells us to treat our work like a balloon

When I finish a piece, I just sit quietly in front of it and get fed with all the feelings and emotions it throws back at me. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction
— Phaedra

People with Passion

Who I interviewed: Phaedra Richter

Passion: Digital Art / Dancing / Cooking

City: Munich

From my art work, you’ll see that women tend to inspire me more...I like passionate women, shy women, young and old women - there’s something beautiful about all of them.
— Phaedra

Change is a vital part in my life.
— Phaedra

What makes your heart skip a beat?

Oh dancing, cooking and the moment I finish a painting! I love reaching the point when i know that “This is it! This is exactly what I wanted”. When I finish a piece, I just sit quietly in front of it and get fed with all the feelings and emotions it throws back at me. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction.


When did you know that you're passionate about creating art?

It started when I was studying. I’d say that I found my passion at the age of 20. Before I finished my communication design studies, I studied Architecture which I hated. During my courses I used the architecture programs but I started creating something different with them and that’s when I discovered my passion for digital painting.


What is it that makes you love digital painting?

I love the way colors mix together and I love creating different patterns. It’s so much fun once you get to know how it works, as your possibilities for creating become endless. There’s constantly something new to discover.


What's your story?

I was born in Vienna, but grew up on a gorgeous Island called Syros in Greece. When I was little, I tried ballet, tennis, sailing, name it. I was surrounded by water my whole childhood, so a lot of my activities where in the water.

My father is a doctor and a wine producer, and my grandpa was a farmer. We had a farm next to our house with chickens, pigs, cows and peacocks...fields with wine, olive trees, peanuts, tomatoes and watermelons...those were the days!

We were living in a huge house that my parents built with their own hands and my beautiful mother decorated it. The interior was a paradise of colors - a mix of okra, ocean blue and shades of red / orange. It was magic!

This is where I come from and that reflects in my personality -  I am playful, I am happy, but like any other person I've had my battles with life.

I am very active, love to have a good laugh with my friends, and quality time with my family is very important to me. I get bored easily so that's probably the reason why I get very anxious and feel unsettled at times. Change is a vital part in my life.


I run under my balloon and puff air into it, so I feed it with air a little every day.
— Phaedra

Who inspires you? 

I am certainly very inspired by movies, and by people who surround me. From my art work, you’ll see that women tend to inspire me more...I like passionate women, shy women, young and old women - there’s something beautiful about all of them.

I love the wisdom and sophistication of older women and the youth and romance of the younger generations. It’s like taking their aura and putting it down on paper. My paintings are obviously not realistic. It’s a “Fedralita” version of what I see and feel. I portray it in shapes, colors and human emotions: the look in someone’s eyes for example, their body posture or their current feelings.

People I admire are Frida Kahlo, Niki de Saint Phalle and Picasso

Events you love to attend & recommend?

Hmmm… a difficult question! I love weddings for example - I mean not the wedding ceremonies as such, but the wedding parties! I figured out that it’s really a great place to meet interesting people - getting drunk with a bunch of well dressed ladies and gentlemen is really not bad at all!

I love festivals on the Greek islands, like for example on Ikaria  - something you should definitely try once. I'd say that this place is the Fusion of Greece, where people from the age of 8 till the age of 90 dance all night long! It’s the Greek tradition to dance till you drop.

Another recommendation I have for you is the art festival called the Stroke Art Fair in Munich (Germany), which takes place every year and a lot of great artists participate.

Another is the Bologna Art Fair in Italy.   

What are your favorite spots in Berlin and Munich?

I love having breakfast at Im Nu in Prenzlauer Berg. Great tapas is at the Tres Tapas on Helmholtzplatz, and fab food at The Bird where you never find a place to sit!

Clubs I really like in Berlin are Katerholzig and Wilde Renate and I love to walk around in Mauerpark - Oderbergerstrasse and Kastanienallee.

As for Munich I love the green parks: The English Garden and Cafes around Glockenbach Viertel - it’s a great area with a lot of nice shops and cafes.


Your most valuable possessions? 

My love for my family! Parents, Grandparents, Great-Grandparents and my Brothers. I cannot live without feeling that I love somebody and I cannot live without feeling loved.

I obviously cannot live without my laptop - that’s like living without my arms! I love music - especially sad music when I am working for example. Melancholic music helps me express my feelings. So that’s something I need in order to create.

My other obsessions and things I would not want to live without are: coffee, cheese and wine!

What do you dream about?

My dream is to settle down one day - somewhere where I can finally call home. I've constantly been moving from one city to another, so I’m getting a little tired of it and would really love to call some place home. I've recently moved to Munich where most of my friends are and I’m trying to make it happen this time.

I’m also planning to give digital painting workshops for Fashion and Graphic Design Students, as I’d like to start interacting more with people while I work - exchange ideas and get direct feedback - instead of just sitting alone behind a computer for hours and days.


If you could give advice to people who are in the same professional field as you what would it be? Or general advice for life…

Imagine your work like a balloon. It's an open balloon, and while you stand underneath it you constantly need to give it some air for it to stay above ground. I see myself and my work exactly this way. I run under my balloon and puff air into it, so I feed it with air a little every day. Sometimes it flies high and sometimes it almost touches the ground, but it never flies away nor does it ever collapse on the ground.

As an artist you are probably very depended on the feedback you get from the outside world, but I think it’s important not to get carried away by peoples’ opinions, because too much of it will make you create only what others want to see instead of doing something represents you.

I am also one of those artists who does a lot of work just because I know people will like it, but at the same time I never stop creating what really reflects “Fedralita”. Remember that there’s a job and there’s art - Art belongs to you and Jobs are for clients. I would advice people to work on their creativity and to ignore what’s going around them once in a while. I see how many artists suffer because of this, so don’t forget who you are and where you wanted to go in the first place. Keep feeding your art with what life gives you and tells you to do, while you use your talent to pay your bills. It’s a gift, so make the most of it.