As the owner, founder and creative visionary behind the unstoppable upward trajectory of her eponymous interior design studio, Katharine Pooley has built an unsurpassed reputation for exquisitely crafted, residential and commercial interiors worldwide. Over the 18 years since she founded her design business, Katharine Pooley’s designs have been constantly impeccable and seamlessly delivered. Every project showcases the finest British craftsmanship and sets new standards of luxury and comfort. Today, Katharine is one of the most respected, creative and original British designers working worldwide. Named as British Interior Designer of the Decade, International Designer of the Year, Asia and Entrepreneur of the Year, her Chelsea-based studio is globally recognised for creating innovative designs and award-winning spaces.
The scope and detail of her projects are truly unmatched, with hotels, châteaux, yachts, ski chalets, castles, beach villas, palaces, historical houses and private estates all currently underway. Designed with the support of her studio of 49 talented designers and interior architects, Katharine’s extensive travels and prodigious work ethic ensure that there is hardly a corner of the world where she has not sought inspiration or, in turn, created an inspiring design.
Although motivated by travel, architecture, fashion, literature and art, Katharine views Mother Nature as her greatest inspiration. ‘The beauty and diversity of our environment is a constant solace and incitement,’ she says. ‘My aesthetic is a juxtaposition of so many different and evolving passions, but my appreciation for the natural world is the seed of every design. Its beauty is infinite and extraordinary.’ As a result, sustainability has naturally become a central pillar of her design process.
Katharine experienced a personal epiphany trekking out across the vast plains (and summiting the highest mountain) of Antarctica, where she found the empty wilderness completely awe-inspiring and life changing. ‘I realised how small and insignificant I was among this vast expanse of ice and rock,’ she says. ‘Nature always seem so inherently powerful, but we now understand it is terrifyingly fragile. A happy equilibrium is entirely dependent on our respect and choices. I think of this breath-taking beauty often when designing for my clients.’ Katharine believes it is imperative to place sustainability and localised sourcing at the centre of all decisions and to prioritise suppliers with a similar ethos. By embracing this aspect, as well as her philanthropic projects, Katharine aims to create an ethos of luxury living with a conscience.
Katharine is an ambassador for The Childhood Trust on its ‘Decorate a Child’s Life’ programme, a member of the Board of Trustees for The British Forces Foundation, an ambassador for the charity Lady Garden, a trusted ambassador for Al-Johara and has been a member of the Board of Trustees for Kings College Hospital for 16 years. As a member of the steering committee for United in Design, Katharine applies the same drive and determination with which she undertakes her design projects to her many charitable pursuits.
Katharine is currently working on many international projects including the magnificent Château de la Croix des Gardes, set imperiously 700 feet above the Mediterranean and overlooking the bay of Cannes; an impeccably detailed super-yacht for a returning client; a ground-breaking large residential development in Monaco; a beautiful and ornate architecturally awe-inspiring villa in Kuwait; a sleek and contemporary private residence overlooking Discovery Bay in Hong Kong; a palatial villa steeped in history on the island of Malta and a luxurious and cutting-edge chalet in Zermatt, Switzerland.
Katharine’s projects all differ widely and her clients are all highly individual. However, be they royalty, business leaders, philanthropists or private family figures, they all have the same keen understanding and appreciation for craftsmanship. They value, above all, a unique viewpoint and, of course, unsurpassed beauty. For this reason, they come to Katharine who, through the painstaking work of her team, instructs hundreds of artisans to create ‘one-of-a-kind’ unforgettable designs for each and every client.
Very unusually, almost every piece of furniture, joinery and soft furnishing in a Katharine Pooley project is designed and created from scratch. All finishes and fabrics are hand-selected and often woven or constructed manually by Europe’s most eminent and talented craftspeople, makers, artists and artisans. Through Katharine’s patronage and investment, a great number of British craftspeople are enabled to grow, develop and pass down their techniques to the next generation. As outlined in HRH the Queen’s speech to Parliament last summer, the promotion of apprenticeships and the training of young people in specialist skills and crafts are of critical importance at this time.
‘I take great pleasure in the small part I, and my wonderful clients, play in ensuring these valuable, historically rich, intricately honed, manufacturing skills are protected and nurtured,’ says Katharine. ‘Even with the best of intentions, unless they are supported by us all, they will sadly die out.’
Positioned on the corner of a pretty Kensington cobble-stoned street, a traditional, honey-toned brick mews house, edged with Virginia creeper, has been transformed into a light-filled, family home. Set across five floors, the final design embraces classical detailing and luxurious finishes. Pretty fabrics, hand-painted wallpaper and mementos from the family’s travels add interest and layers of detail to a calm and peaceful design. Stand-out features include: beautiful, botanical, wallpapers from De Gournay and Fromental, hand-embroidered cushions in the bedrooms, hanging clover-shaped lanterns in the orangery and a scattering of antiques and artworks. The finished interior is gentle, serene and peaceful, not unlike the atmosphere on the quiet, geranium-pot-filled mews outside.
The core creative principles by which Katharine designs and lives are clear. By never compromising on quality, authenticity or originality, she ensures her work remains at the cutting-edge of British and global interior design. She is a beacon for British design and her exceptional designs continue to promote the highest standard of craftsmanship and sustainability. As Katharine puts it so well: ‘True luxury is the subtle balance of absolute comfort, environmental awareness, intelligent design, and unforgettable beauty.’