In 2004, Katharine Pooley bought a little shop on Walton Street in London’s South Kensington, never dreaming that it would lead to her becoming one of the most revered British interior designers. Her unique ability to blend luxurious details with one-of-kind travel trinkets, has made her a firm favourite among well-heeled nomads seeking a sense of home.
Highlighting her extraordinary range, Pooley and her team recently completed a five-year renovation of The Clarence at St James House, one of London’s most distinguished addresses as well as the glamorous Cachet Boutique Zhejiang Circuit hotel in Shaoxing, China; all while adding the final touches to her own country cottage in Devon. Unfazed by scale, budget or geography, she travels all over the world working on up to 30 projects at a time, lending each one its own identity and character; a trait that she believes she developed during her 20 years as an expatriate.
To celebrate her voyage so far, Pooley has recently launched her first book with French publishing house Assouline, Journey By Design, which showcases just some of her work over the past 14 years.
You’ve lived in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore—what keeps bringing you back to this part of the world?
Katharine Pooley Living in Singapore was one of the happiest times of my life—I was young, newly married with no children and I had so few responsibilities. It was also so green and safe and we had such a beautiful home that I can’t really resist coming back. On a professional note, we’ve worked on a couple of projects here already but we fully intend to take Singapore by storm; so watch this space.
You began your career in finance. How did you make the transition to interior design?
KP I worked for Morgan Stanley for eight years, and my boss always used to say to me, “You should be an interior designer”. I think that was because I used to travel quite a lot and would always bring home trinkets that people would admire whenever they came over.
My husband and I then bought four houses around the world which I did up and when we moved back to London, I just thought I might have a little boutique on Walton Street to sell some home accessories; the rest is history.