Polkra People: Kate Wills

For our second Polkra People we reached out to a travel and features writer Kate Wills. A versatile and wide-ranging journalist Kate has hiked through glaciers in Iceland and kayaked down the Yangtze River in China all in the name of research. We visited Kate in her beautiful home, the grad II listed Pioneer Centre in Peckham. Built in 1935 to a design by architect Sir Owen Williams, the building was described by Walter Gropus as 'an oasis of glass in a desert of brick'. Kate's home is full of an eclectic mix of objects and artefacts that she has picked up on her travels, including an alligators head and kitschy La Vegas ornaments, we began our visit discussing the edit she had selected from Polkra.
Tell us about the edit you selected from Polkra, why you chose each product?
My obsession with figs meant I had to go for the fig candle and I also love the unusual bright design.The rug feels fun and cheerful and the geometric design makes the room feel bigger.The velvet cushions are so tactile and bring some colour into the space.Tender is the Night is one of my favourite books and these towels feel like they might’ve been stolen from a 1950s American motel which I think is great.
You have interviewed an eclectic mix of people throughout your career have any words really stuck with you?
One of the best things about my job is getting to meet interesting people doing incredible things, from app-designers to campaigners to Gwyneth Paltrow.
One of my favourite quotes comes from a 98-year old woman called Maureen who I interviewed a little while ago, who told me the secret to a long and happy life is to drink one glass of champagne a day. That’s a pretty great motto.


Has anywhere you have travelled inspired the decoration of your home?

I try and pick up a small souvenir from every place I visit, whether it’s an alligator head in New Orleans, a ceramic tea pot from China or a flashing Welcome To Las Vegas sign. In terms of hotels one that really sticks in my mind is Ett Hem in Stockholm. It’s designed by Isle Crawford to feel just like a home, think Papa Bear armchairs, sheepskin rugs and lots of candles and cosiness. I bought a few candles in the giftshop to try and recreate it at home - my suitcase wasn’t big enough for the armchairs sadly.

 What is the most treasured object in your home?

Either a beautifully fine spider’s web which has been cast in silver and placed on a glass paperweight that one of my best friend’s Sarah bought for me. Or a taxidermy budgie head by the artist Polly Morgan.

Where in your house do you prefer to write?

I like sitting in the kitchen because it gets the most light, and I can look out the window...although that can also be very distracting.

How is living in Peckham, where are your favourite spots?

I love living in Peckham and new places are opening up all the time. There’s a fantastic South African restaurant down the road called Kudu which serves amazing brunch of waffles and duck eggs. The Bussey Building is a former cricket bat factory where I go to yoga and it also has a pop up cinema on the roof. I love Review bookshop on Bellenden Road and General Store for ridiculously expensive but special groceries.

What’s the last book you read?

I recently read Normal People by Sally Rooney in about two days and absolutely loved it. It captures the complex and often undefined nature of relationships and is quite understated and wonderful.

If anyone was to describe your home what words do you think they would use?

Unusual, eclectic, lots of books!

Where is your favourite place of calm to gather your thoughts?

I am a big fan of a long soak in the bath, preferably with candles, bath oils and a book. I also love sitting by the windows and looking at the trees and the birds.

Are there any writers that you take particular inspiration from?

So many! I think it’s really important as a writer to have writing heroes and I go back to them for inspiration regularly. Sylvia Plath, Scott F Fitzgerald, Bret Easton Ellis and Dorothy Parker were some of my favourites growing up - I love American literature and have a dark sense of humour. In terms of journalism AA Gill and Caitlin Moran can’t be bettered in my opinion.

What scents are reminiscent of you, and your home?

Figs remind me of an incredible villa in Tuscany called Villa Lena where I spent the summer. I love fig candles, fragrances and bath products. Le Labo Santal is my perfume and their room fragrance is also lovely.

What is your daily routine as a freelance writer?

In my job there isn’t really a routine, I could get a call asking me to go anywhere in the world, often with very little notice. But when I’m at home and writing I try and build in my own sense of structure. I always start the day with a cup of earl grey and a soft boiled egg and soldiers while I catch up on the news slash scroll through Instagram. I try and do yoga when I can and always have a bath before bed.

Where is your next travelling adventure taking you?
I’m about to go to Jerusalem for an article for SUITCASE magazine. I’m following in the footsteps of a 4th century nun who wrote letters home about her travels, so it should be an interesting one.





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