Sustainability In Design With Vogue

Katharine Pooley interior design studio has a strong focus on sustainable practices as a leader in the industry

Spending time with animals, wildlife and in nature is one of the greatest pleasures in life, so preserving the environment and making  sustainable choices is always at the forefront of my mind. Echoing my hero, the much-respected Natural Historian, Sir David Attenborough, “The World is finite, and we need to look after it”.

It was reported that UNESCO wants the Australian coral reef to be put on a list of world heritage sites that are “in danger”. I have had the great pleasure of experiencing this wondrous natural kaleidoscope firsthand and it truly breaks my heart to think it may not recover to its former glory. I have had a few epiphanies where experiencing the breathtaking beauty of Mother Nature has truly left me in awe. It is up to us to treat the environment with care and respect.

It is important to me that my passion for both design and nature marry well. Great design inspires, calms, offers sanctuary and elevates the quality of one’s life. I’d say the real essence of my design is to create a feeling of peace, more than a specific style. This can always be accomplished while also considering being kind to humans, wildlife, and the planet Earth.



Our priority is trying our utmost to use sustainable materials like faux-leather, faux-shagreen and faux-fur. These materials can be made without using the skins from animals and can often be more durable than their “real” counterparts, which can deteriorate over time due to the natural drying hides go through. We have started to use more sustainable materials like pineapple leather which all still have a luxe look and feel. A great example is when we created a slick, sliding-screen billiards cue holder which we covered in Alma Leather’s exquisite faux-leather, featured most recently in my freshly completed Project located in Notting Hill, United Kingdom.

It is utterly vital for us to protect the Earth’s ‘lungs’. We place great effort on avoiding endangered tree species such as Ebony and Bolivian Rosewood. Alternatively, we source veneers and timber from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and PEFC certified suppliers. I love incorporating trees and plants into my designs and am thrilled to see many projects submitted in international awards featuring planting, especially vertical planting in urban environments. Repurposing reclaimed timber flooring planks is also a wonderful way to bring sustainable design right into the heart of homes. I love using antiques for this reason also.

It is imperative to place sustainability at the centre of all our decisions when designing and to prioritise suppliers who place sustainability at the forefront of their manufacturing. I have recently been working with Perennials, who use renewable energy to power their mills. I’m also delighted to see the rug industry is going through a pioneering recycling-revelation, using recycled plastic bottles!

Katharine Pooley Design Studio has a commitment to sustainability with a strong focus on innovative leadership in the industry around environmental policy


I feel privileged to be an ambassador with London-based charity The Childhood Trust on their ‘Decorate a Child’s Life’ Programme. My team and I devote our time to transform the bedrooms of some of the 70,000+ children in London sadly living in poverty. We achieve this by using spare furniture, fabric offcuts and fittings, asking our suppliers to donate unused stock then translate a bespoke bedroom design into a powerful motivation to provide hope and comfort in tough times.

I mentor up and coming designers by working with organisations such as United in Design, who empower individuals from minority ethnic groups, who are supported and encouraged to enter design.

I am immensely hopeful for the future of design if we all pull together. My advice to aspiring designers and architects is to be bold, to demand that sustainability be placed at the centre of their work, to impact and inspire changes in behaviours and living environments globally. I urge them all to educate themselves on sustainability as the single most important issue in design in this day and age – ignorance is no longer an excuse.

We should try to remember that this Earth does not belong to us – we are simply visitors. And as such, we should show the same regard and respect as we do when we visit anyone.

This article was originally published in Vogue Hong Hong.


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