LM: What elements of design are your guiding principle when you design an interior?
KP: The culture, country, person and design style. These are the four elements I have to listen to every single time. Sometimes you have to take the initiative and have courage. When you design a hotel, you have to think about the aesthetics of the company and the location of the property as well as make the board of directors happy. It’s a tall order.
LM: You have collaborated with furniture designer Adam Williams Design for the Chatsworth Collection. Any future plans to launch your own furniture collection?
KP: The thing about furniture design is once you have done it, you have to move on to the next thing to keep people’s interest. I have started to design a carpet collection with a rug company as well as door handles with an ironmonger. Basically, there are two aspects to my company – one is the interior design business and the other is my boutique in Walton Street in London where I sell to the public as well as other interior designers.
I also design most of the furniture for my clients when I design their home. I take the inside measurements of their legs and ensure that the seat of a chair or sofa fit their proportions so it’s comfortable for them. It’s all bespoke and therefore no other person gets the same furniture I have made for clients.
LM: What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
KP: Juggling my different clients’ needs as well as getting to know them all really well and reading their minds!
LM: You have designed the interiors of castles to penthouses. Do you have a favourite kind of property to design?
KP: One of my favourite properties was a home I designed in Cape Town, South Africa where it was carved out of the rock face on a cliff and it has grass on top of it so from the air you couldn’t see the property. It has a contemporary look with lots of creamy neutral tones with touches of green and is very calm. It was a very exciting project as the architecture of the house was quite challenging.
Homes are my favourite projects to do but I also love doing hotels. You have more design freedom when doing private homes whereas in hotels you are just designing but not procuring. I believe in doing my own procuring in order to maintain high quality.
LM: Which comes first for you? Form, function, beauty or practicality?
KP: There can’t be any of these apart from beauty! Generally speaking, it’s absolute beauty…. I always tell my clients to let’s not design to a budget, let’s design to a brief so I can design freely. It is nice to design without any monetary constraints. I usually present the costs to a client and they might tell me to cut it back and that’s when the skills of value engineering come in. But I did have one client who just gave me the keys to his home and told to me do whatever I wished!
I have a lot of repeat clients where I design their second, third or fourth homes! When you do that, it’s important to be consistent with a client so the bathroom and light fixtures, fridges and cookers must be the same in each house for ease.
LM: You have four houses – a castle in Scotland, a country house in Oxfordshire, a mews house in London and a seaside cottage in Devon – which is your favourite room?
KP: That’s an easy one for me to answer. It’s my study in my cottage in Devon. The reason is I made the sofa a sofa bed and it’s so wide you can’t sit on it; you have to lie on it. I just love the comfort. It’s also completely away from the rest of the house and I have my own space and where I go to recharge.
LM: What’re your favourite colours?
KP: Dusky pink and Celadon green mainly because they are calming colours.
I normally would say yellow but it’s a cheerful and happy colour but I would never wear it or use it.
LM: If there was a fire in your home, what’s the one thing you would take?
KP: My photo albums! I have travelled to many countries (over 196 at last count!) and I have taken loads of photos including travel paraphernalia such as maps, tickets and brochures of the places which I have visited. I also have scrapbooks for my two sons which I treasure.
LM: What is your definition of good taste?
KP: Good tastes can be in everything – clothes, homes, cars even a flight. Good taste is everywhere. However, I think it boils down to three things – uniqueness, quality and timelessness.
Katharine Pooley – More information