claudine ries

Claudine Ries worked as a lawyer for many years until she had her three children whom she decided to take care of as a full-time mum. Oyuna Tserendorj sat down with Claudine and her youngest son, Nima, in their London home to talk about creativity and creating warmth in one’s life.

This interview is dedicated to all the mums in the world who gave up something in their personal lives to be there for their children. Or shall we create a word “give down” instead of give up, as being a mum is a beautiful and hard work, and it should be elevated above many other professions.

 

 

So, who is the cook in the family?

Claudine: I am the main cook in the family. I love cooking, it is a wonderful thing. I find it very relaxing. I love to cook new things and think it is a very creative way of spending time. We often cook together with Nima who also likes it very much.

What's your signature dish?

I cook a lot of Persian food. My husband is of Iranian heritage. So, we make a lot of different rice dishes with lots of spices, herbs and nuts, and all kinds of different vegetables - it is all very colourful and tasty. It also looks beautiful and presentation is very important to me. We have a very open and very welcoming house. We always have friends over and all our entertainment is around our table enjoying delicious food and chatting away.

Claudine wearing KOTTO sweater.

 

Nima, your mum creates an amazingly warm and welcoming environment for her family and friends. What is it that really works in her hospitality?

Nima: Every dinner is a wow. It is the way she presents her dishes, the aperitif before; it is all about the experience she provides. My mum always makes sure that anyone coming to the house feels extremely welcome and that everything goes super well. She is a super talented hostess.

Claudine, please share with us some tips about your hospitality.

Claudine: I love to set a beautiful table. I think if you drink from a nice glass or eat food from a beautiful plate, it simply tastes better and becomes a feast for all senses. I enjoy making ceramics and I like to use my dishes and mix them with very precious glass pieces I brought from all over the world. I can mix a very delicate porcelain dish from Japan with a very rough and very imperfect earthenware dish that I have made myself, and present it all on an old precious textile, for example. I think those combinations work really well. But ultimately it is all about the relaxed atmosphere and the food. My friends and family come, we are in the kitchen chatting while we finish cooking, and then we love to enjoy it all together.

You mentioned ceramics. You're a ceramic artist?

Claudine: I certainly would not call myself a ceramic artist, I am just another enthusiastic ceramicist. I started ceramics five or six years ago, and I really, really enjoy it. I do only functional pieces, pieces that I actually use. I enjoy drinking my cup of tea in a mug I have made myself, even though that particular mug might not be half as beautiful as many other mugs that I have, but I just enjoy it because I made it. I love making things with my hands, working with clay and getting one's hands really dirty. Turning is an incredibly enjoyable and satisfying feeling. When you turn, you need to be concentrating otherwise the object goes sideways, and it is that little bit of concentration that I find very relaxing as your mind focuses without wandering off - I enjoy that.

Nima: I really think what is cool about her ceramics is that every single piece is very individual - it has its own flair - and all together they work beautifully.

Claudine: You can never really create perfectly similar pieces when you throw, and I am not aiming for that at all. The precise reason I enjoy hand made objects is that each piece is a little bit different.

“I think the world is a beautiful, wonderful place”. Plate by Claudine and beautiful textures and lines in her home she created with her husband.

 

Why do you think beauty is so important in our lives?

Claudine: I would say possibly not for everyone, but certainly for me it is an integral part of who I am and how I look at the world. I just think there are so many beautiful things everywhere, and if you train your eyes or if you have the eye, you can see beauty even in the most unexpected settings and find hidden gems. I think the world is a beautiful, wonderful place.

You've been our customer for how many years now?

Claudine: I discovered your brand maybe 15 years ago when you did the Maison & Objet salon in Paris. I am always looking for new pieces, new inspiration. What attracted me first were your colours. They are incredibly nuanced and subtle. Then I discovered the quality of your product! I think you can use cashmere year-round. It is so breathable and so enjoyable to wear. And your designs are super architectural and modern and so comfortable. I think you can use your pieces in a classic or very hip way. I think they are totally timeless, and I love timeless pieces.

Do you have some pieces from us too, Nima?

Nima: Well, I am wearing one right now. I wear this quite a bit and it gets a lot of compliments. It is not too bulky, it is perfect! I wear this as an under piece or as an over piece - I really mix it up. And then, I have one of your blankets on my bed, of course. I think your little gold ring in the back is beautiful. Such a nice touch - like a subtle little sparkle.

Nima wearing a sweater from OYUNA’s past collection.

 

I'm sure your mum's aesthetic influenced you as well, didn't it?

Nima: She is passing on a lot of her palette, handing it down. As I have grown older, my appreciation and understanding for how good her aesthetic sense is has progressed. I always heard it as a kid, that she had this great taste for art and great taste for design - but only now do I really realise it, as I start looking into the things that she wears and the way she arranges our house and makes everything look perfect. And we talked about hospitality. She is an artist in so many ways, not only in the things that she wears, but in the way she presents herself. She is a real inspiration.

Claudine, what was your professional training so to speak?

Claudine: I studied law, and worked as a lawyer for many years. But I do think I am a bit of a frustrated creative. I feel going into a more creative field would have suited me better. At the time I didn't get much support from my family in that direction and they thought I should get a “proper” job. But I try to bring creativity into my life more and more. The other day, I created a piece of clothing for myself, and so enjoyed it! And when I do something like that, I feel proud. Even if it is not that great looking or that well-made - I taught myself how to do it, it just feels nice, and I very much enjoy wearing it.

” I love making things with my hands” – Claudine with her hand-made ceramics, wearing MUNDAT jacket.

 

It’s such a nice feeling to make things with your own hands.

Nima: She is creative in every way. We spoke about pottery earlier, she has done that. There was also a phase when she was crocheting quite a bit and she knitted our entire family their own kind of big sweater. That was during COVID. I remember she came out with eight massive sweaters. And she does put her own twist in things she makes. She makes things one can actually use.

Claudine: I think useful objects have an intrinsic beauty to them.

Claudine, you have such a positive cool vibe. What's your life philosophy in general?

Claudine: How do I go about life? I am not sure I have a life philosophy…. I think I take life in strides. I am quite positive as a person. Life is something to be treasured and enjoyed every day. Life for me is community, family, being surrounded by friends, which is so important. I try to bring new people into my life all the time and I care for those around me.

Sounds simply beautiful. What do you mean by bringing new people into your life?

Claudine: I love to meet new people, people of all ages at all stages of their lives. I think it is wonderful to make new friends. We moved around and lived in many different countries, and I am incredibly fortunate to have friends in lots of different places. I keep in touch with them and they are all totally part of my world. For me, it is very enriching and very important.

You mentioned community is important to you. Do you find that London is a place of good community?

Nima: I think yes. I think London is super eclectic and it is so large that you can find communities for everything and everywhere. Every single corner of London has its own little community. It works well.

Claudine: I agree that Londoners do form their little micro communities. We certainly have a little neighbourhood community here. You go to farmers’ market or to Quiz Night at the pub and you see the same people. I think it is very important and it proved so important during COVID. I think it is a beautiful way of living in an urban setting.

”Every single corner of London has its own little community”. Claudine and Nima wearing AROUC sweaters in Ocean and Ivory. UNO cashmere throw with one of Claudine’s beautiful hand woven textiles.

 

What's your favourite restaurant in London?

Nima: Pizza East probably has to be up there. Because it was kind of our first local restaurant. It was right next to the first house we moved into in London and that was just kind of one of the places we would go as a family. So, I really like Pizza East for the nostalgia, and then of course Jin Kichi in Hampstead is incredible - it is our family restaurant 100%.

Claudine: We go to Jin Kichi all the time and we really love it. It is our Sunday family lunch spot.

Nima: And of course, L’Entrecote. That has got to be up there. Can't go wrong.

Claudine: We generally don't like loud restaurants. We like quieter places where you can chat to one another.

What about your favourite creative spaces in London in terms of galleries or museums or any other interesting places?

Claudine: My favourite museum in London is the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is an incredible museum. Every time I go, I discover new things and really love it.

Nima: I like the National Gallery. There are so many great museums. This is one of the fantastic things about London.

If I say sustainability, what does it mean to you?

Its future.

Blue?

The sky

Strength?

Being able to show vulnerability.

Softness?

Words can be soft. Materials can be soft. OYUNA is soft.