Surrounded by Beauty 


Claudia Chanin has always loved being surrounded by beautiful things, whether they occur in nature or are built by the world’s greatest architects or builders.

Claudia, born in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia, knows what it feels like to be surrounded by beauty. She grew up in Monterrey, Mexico, in the shadow of the Sierra Madre Mountains and the midst of some of the most stunning architecture in North America.

From an early age, Claudia said she was inspired by the beauty of the city’s rich historic architecture that blended seamlessly with modern skyscrapers and the breathtaking landscape of her hometown.

“Monterrey is a metropolitan city and everywhere you go – whether it’s to your friend’s house or to a restaurant – the scenery is just so beautiful,” she said. “The people there are driven to be unique and they know the value of being surrounded by a beautiful atmosphere.”

In 1997, Claudia enrolled in the Universidad de Monterrey to study architecture. She was mentored by the director of undergraduate studies at the School of Architecture. Claudia said he pushed her to step out of her comfort zone and to “think outside the box.”

She earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture in 2002 and started her architectural design company in Monterrey.

“I was very blessed that I had many of the right connections,” she said. “As soon as I finished college, I had opportunities to design beautiful homes and restaurants, so I was very busy in Monterrey.”

Life was good, but Claudia wanted more. She knew it wasn’t her destiny to stay in Monterrey; she wanted to live and work in the United States. In 2002, Claudia moved to New York City, where she worked for an architectural firm.

It was an exciting time for a young woman on her own in the most vibrant city in the United States, but it was also extremely hectic.

Aside from her role at a New York architectural firm, Claudia was still running her own business and traveling to Monterrey on weekends to meet with her clients. She was burning the candle at both ends, and the workload soon became too much. Six months later, Claudia resigned from her job in New York City and returned to Mexico.

Claudia still had her sights set on working in the U.S., and it was only a short time before she found a new opportunity in Laredo. However, McAllen had always held a special place in Claudia’s heart.

She recalled the wonderful memories of childhood visits to her grandmother’s home in McAllen. Claudia said traveling from Laredo to McAllen to visit friends always brought back those wonderful childhood memories.

“McAllen just kept calling to me,” she said. “There was just always that feeling when I came here. It just always felt like home.”

She moved to McAllen and began working for Rofa Architects. In her role, she began to see McAllen in a different light. Now, it was not just her home but a growing and vibrant city, and she wanted to add to the city’s historic beauty.

Claudia went to work for another architectural firm in McAllen and eventually met and married her husband. Shortly after their first child was born, Claudia wanted more freedom with her designs and work.

“I never thought I would have my own business,” Claudia said.

She decided to leave her full-time job and began doing freelance work outside of her home. When Claudia had client meetings, she took her daughter in the stroller.

Her freelancing role attracted more and more clients. In 2010, she opened NOMA Design Studio, which is named for her daughters, Noor and Mariam.

“NOMA was my lucky charm,” she said.

Of course, there were those times when Claudia would begin to see her company’s designs take shape and find that some things were not quite right.

“I would go to these projects, and the finishes just weren’t there,” she said. “We’d spend all this time designing and selecting things, and it would deviate from the original intent. Not just with finishes, but with furniture, flooring, and lighting. It was very uncomfortable to go to these projects and see that the message of our design was not delivered as we’d planned.”

These issues led to the launch of a second business – Creative Colectivo – in March 2020. Thus, NOMA Design’s architectural expertise became the conduit for Creative Colectivo’s role of providing superior interior designs.

“I needed to have the control to give these options to my clients,” she said. “Everything that I propose you can buy through me, or you can buy it somewhere else, but at least you see it. The message goes through the whole process. It doesn’t deviate.”

Claudia and her team from NOMA Design and Creative Colectivo meet with each client individually to determine their design tastes and to provide the client with options that reflect their unique style.

She said this enables the client to feel comfortable and connected to their home or business.

Like all creative minds, Claudia has many projects she is proud of. Still, one of her favorites in the Valley is the Reserva Coffee Brewers.

“We have designed four, and we are hoping to design the fifth very soon,” she said. “I love creating relationships with my clients.”

So, what’s next for Claudia and her teams at NOMA Design Studio and Creative Colectivo?

“What’s next changes every year,” she said. “I am content with our size, but we still want to continue being a boutique design studio and a boutique design showroom. I love bringing magnificent inspiration to the Valley.”