KATE CHALLIS (Principal)

Kate Challis is an interior designer whose work is informed by her background in art history and a passion for world travel. A uniquely layered and emotive signature has emerged from this varied life experience, building Kate’s reputation for interior spaces that marry form and function, the aesthetic and the pragmatic.

As the granddaughter of the late Bernard Smith – esteemed art historian and one of Australia’s most important thinkers – Kate grew up amongst prominent artists, writers and intellectuals. Not only did these formative experiences bestow upon Kate a love of art and of aesthetics, they instilled in her a deep visual language in which she became fluent at an early age.

By her 20s, Kate commenced a doctorate thesis on the topic of deluxe illuminated manuscripts from the early 16th century. This research took her across the globe to the Vatican, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice. Today, in addition to her interior design practice, she remains active as a scholar, her most recent research study published in 2018.

Kate is passionate about contemporary art and is on the Board of the RAKA indigenous art award, one of Australia’s first, established by her grandfather in honour of his late wife, and Kate’s namesake.

Kate believes her greatest strength as a designer, fearlessness, is a by-product of having never been formally trained in interior design, coupled with her deep understanding of art. Nurtured in childhood, her creativity – together with business acumen acquired in her early career – allow her to successfully bridge the two most critical requirements of any interior design project: an uncanny ability to merge aesthetics with pragmatism, business with beauty, people with their surroundings.


The growing team at Kate Challis Interiors are highly skilled and dedicated individuals, each bringing a unique perspective to the studio whilst being unified by their passion for design and the impact interior design can have on our lives.

EMILIE SMITH (Interior Designer)

Emilie joined Kate Challis Interiors in 2017 after a decade working in advertising as an interiors and fashion stylist. Cultivating a reputation for layering, detail, and technical prowess, she travelled to exotic locations; preparing sets on safari a particularly memorable experience. Interior Design was a natural progression for Emilie. Her love of fabrics, textures, and construction, which she explored in her textile design degree, is evident in the environments she creates. An intuitive designer, Emilie believes in the power of spaces to shape realities and influence mood. Presenting clients with elegant solutions and bespoke interiors makes her heart sing.

CLARE WALTERS (Studio Manager)

Clare has been organising the team at Kate Challis Interiors for over five years. With many years of retail experience in homewares, importing, purchasing and styling, Clare is a natural organiser. She has exceptional talent for scheduling, keeping the team accountable, on-time and on-track. The organisation of her desk is testimony to her sense of style, attention to detail and joy in taking control.