Her charismatic charm and delightful humor make Claudette Bonville a woman you want to be around. She has been nominated for countless awards and is currently the vitality behind Claudette Bonville Associates, a world-class interior design firm that caters to the needs of luxury yacht owners and the marine industry, as well as resort and hotel industries. We chatted with Claudette about her company and the constantly changing industry, and this is what she had to say:
What was your first big project?
My first big project was LADY ANNA, which at the time was the largest sport fish in the world at 125’. That was also my first cover of ShowBoats International Magazine. The owner was, and still is, one of the largest homebuilders in the US. He and his wife were a delight to work with and are still in touch.
What are some of the challenges your industry faces?
My biggest challenge with the industry is that most people do not know the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator. The former needs a degree and a license to practice and the latter does not. The other challenge is the industry sometimes feels that we are all decorators and only pick fabrics rather than provide the space planning and construction drawings required to pull off a successful interior.
How do you manage your time?
The key to time management is being organized. Making a schedule and keeping to it. I’d have to say it is the hardest thing for me to do since, as an artistic person, I get sidetracked sometimes. It takes a great team to keep me focused. My daughter Lauren has recently graduated in interior design and she has joined the firm, which makes me very proud! She is the next generation and she has it all, including being really organized! Fortunately she does not work directly for me, but for my long time Senior Designer, Cindy.
Do you have a signature style?
I would have to say that our style has been determined by the demand of our clients. When I first started I would have to say it was very elegant and clubby. We became known for the classic, traditional interior: many Trinitys including SEAHAWK, the Broward INSPIRATION, and the Feadship CAKEWALK, to name a few. However, during the same time we did SILVERFOX in Australia and she was very contemporary. Over time the look got more transitional, such as HARBOUR ISLAND and VICTORIA DEL MAR, or now a lot more contemporary, like SILVER SHALIS.
You have won countless awards. What was your most memorable?
My most memorable award was probably for the Delta LADY LINDA. That project was a true labor of love and is still one of the most beautiful boats CBA has ever done. However, every time we won an award it was memorable. Just being in Monaco and being a part of the whole weekend is so exciting, especially if you have the chance to share it with your family.
What are you currently working on?
Currently we are working on mostly refits, which we really enjoy too, and this has brought a whole new aspect to the yacht design arena. I would have to say that changing the interior of existing boats, rather than new builds, does have its rewards. It is very satisfying to have almost instant gratification rather than the 4-5 years it takes to build a new boat.