Global Nomad: Designer and Traveller Katharine Pooley Launches New Book,
Katharine Pooley has a keen sense of adventure. She has just touched down after a trip by train across Canada; previous trips have seen her climb some of the world’s highest mountains, cross the Sahara on horseback, and take a dog sled to the North Pole. The British interior designer has visited some 150 countries, and she even lived in Hong Kong for a time.
The many places she has been and the sights she has seen have, naturally, trickled into her design aesthetic, coming through in the rich variety of materials she uses and in the refined eclecticism of the pieces she creates and sources for her projects and her boutique.
Pooley’s work has attracted a similarly eclectic high-end set of clients. She has worked on everything from barns in Oxfordshire and castles in Scotland to mansions in Kuwait and Doha, not to mention a new hotel in Shaoxing, China, and a private jet lounge.
Her latest venture to come to fruition is a tome for luxury book publisher Assouline. Titled Journey by Design, it provides insights into Pooley’s worldwide wanderings and the influence they have had on 19 of her most diverse projects. In conversation with Asia Tatler, London-based Pooley shares some of the challenges and excitement she faced in working on the book, and much more.
I started off with a boutique on Walton Street, Kensington, and I’ve built up a loyal following over the past 15 years. I use my boutique to showcase new design ideas, and any interesting objets, furniture and art I find on my travels. Many projects and clients are first introduced to the Katharine Pooley aesthetic in this way.
Travel is absolutely a part of my being and consequently continues to be a key influence in my designs and my career. During my travels, I’m always on the lookout for new inspiration in nature, architecture, art, jewellery, fashion and interiors, and this has been the main source of inspiration for Journey by Design.
The book explores the creative process and diverse inspirations behind 19 of our projects. Whether we’re doing the interiors of a magnificent Middle Eastern villa on the Palm Islands in Dubai or a family home in Washington, no two projects are the same. I take inspiration from each client’s individual style and personality, as well as taking influences from each property’s unique location. In the book, alongside project imagery, I’ve shown the main inspirations behind my designs. We worked with Assouline on the book for over a year, and so the most exciting thing for me was to see it for the first time in print.
Details and Deadlines
With any book you have short deadlines and, in a way, this mirrors interior design, as in many cases you’re working to short deadlines. Another challenge was in the detail and ensuring we were happy with every element. Again, this has parallels with interior design, as it’s all about the details.
Harking Back to Hong Kong
Hong Kong has deeply inspired my design aesthetic. It’s all about East meets West. I find a lot of inspiration with suppliers based there, they’re very open to manufacturing with special materials and I’ve designed a number of my Katharine Pooley-branded items in Hong Kong.
A dream of mine has always been to create a beautiful safari lodge in Africa. I’ve enjoyed many safaris and the landscape is unsurpassable in its beauty. I would be inspired to use a palette of natural tones, fabrics, and textures in a luxurious yet timeless combination. De Le Cuona has an amazing African-influenced range with beautiful textures, including their sumptuous sheers and signature washed linens, which would work perfectly in the scheme. I would also love the opportunity to design a yacht or another private jet.
Clear the Clutter
I always have a glass of water on my desk, a sweet-scented candle, and fresh flowers. Aside from that, I try to keep my desk free from clutter to allow me to think.
I was once asked to design a bedroom for a dog, which I loved, because I’m very fond of dogs.
In The Bag
When I travel, I always take Charlotte Tilbury Magic Night Cream, Hoola bronzer by Benefit, a TV series I can relax with when I get downtime, a photograph of my brother and one of my children and my husband, an alarm clock with two timezones so I always know where I am, and Kai Body Glow, a body mist that helps keep me hydrated.
On The Itinerary
Next year I’m visiting the Pitcairn Islands, as well as going to Iran and Oman for projects we’re working on there. I love the travel aspect of my job.
- Images Andrew Beasley