NorthPark Luxury Ambassador and attorney Kathleen Wu’s iconoclastic style reflects her Chinese heritage and modern sensibilities in her art-centric Dallas home.
WORDS BY PEGGY LEVINSON || PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN SMITH
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KATHLEEN WU IN HER STYLISH SITTING ROOM, FEATURING AN ARNE JACOBSEN EGG CHAIR AND SERGE MOUILLE THREE-ARM FLOOR LAMP, BOTH FROM DESIGN WITHIN REACH, NORTHPARK CENTER.
Kathleen Wu is a powerhouse. She is an attorney, women’s advocate, philanthropist and one of the first Luxury Ambassadors to NorthPark Center. The world is her backyard as she travels, explores and enjoys discoveries from distant corners, especially those examining her Chinese heritage.
On a visit to her home, she greets us with effortless style in a military-inspired blazer with skinny jeans, sky-high pumps and a T-shirt. An oversized belt from Gucci and Tiffany & Co. earrings complete her look. “NorthPark is still the best place in Dallas to shop, hands down. Whether I’m looking for jeans or couture, I head to NorthPark, and I’m never disappointed,” Wu says. The impeccable taste reflected in her wardrobe is also apparent in her residence, where contemporary design is paired with treasures she has acquired from around the world.
ROBERT PUNNAGKA FIELDING’S ILLUSTRATIONS OF NATIVE FABLES ADORN A HALLWAY DEDICATED
Wu recently worked with local interior designer Shannon Bowers to renovate and expand her space, including the addition of a special corridor just for art.
In the space hangs a series of prints by Australian artist Graham Atwell that depicts highly detailed digital drawings of animals.
Another important series of drawings by Aboriginal artist Robert Punnagka Fielding illustrates native fables.
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: SKATEBOARDS BY LOS ANGELES ARTIST PAUL MCCARTHY, BENEFITING THE SKATEROOM, A BRUSSELS-BASED NONPROFIT; A SERIES OF BOTANICALS BY ITALIAN ARTIST GIUSEPPE PENONE OF THE ARTE POVERA MOVEMENT; A SAARINEN DINING TABLE FROM DESIGN WITHIN REACH BLENDS WITH THE MODERN KITCHEN AND ANTIQUE CHINESE CABINET.
Complementing her ever-evolving art collection are furnishings that exude modern sophistication, including an iconic Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair and Serge Mouille light fixture from Design Within Reach at NorthPark Center. DWR Studio Proprietor David Goltl describes Wu’s style as “Trad Modern, a combination of traditional and modern furnishings with Asian influences embedded, and a hint of the unexpected.” Also in the room is a Tommy Crow painting of tennis shoes titled Prada Love, which relates to Wu’s love of the game and her philanthropic focus on introducing it to underprivileged children through the United States Tennis Association.
The dining room is dominated by an evocative black-and-white painting by Wang Ke, a Chinese artist whose You Must Listen to Me series depicts her quest for individual identity as part of the one-child policy in China. Additional finds nod to Wu’s heritage, with some quite serendipitous. She acquired a Chinese ancestor print that depicts the four-star generals under Chiang Kai-shek. In researching her ancestry, she discovered that her birth grandfather was one of these generals.
AN ACRYLIC MADE IN CHINA ARTWORK BY SUI JIANGUO, ACQUIRED AT ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH, IS A FOCAL POINT.
Her kitchen is sleek with Carrara marble, white cabinets, a Bocci light and a Saarinen dining table. Goltl explains the significance of the classic table: “Eero Saarinen was trying to get away from the ‘sea of legs’ beneath a dining table when he designed it in the late 1950s. His table is elegant and light with a single pedestal. Slide it in very quietly and it still commands your attention when it’s in a room.” An antique Chinese cabinet and a shelf displaying statues of the Chinese Elders provide personal meaning and vibrant color to the space.
BLIND KOLOR “TAGGED” KATHLEEN WU’S HOME WITH A COLORFUL MURAL.
Her hallway leads to a light-filled sitting room bursting with colorful street art at its entrance. Kathleen commissioned Dallas artist Jesse Alarcón (also known by his graffti name, Blind Kolor, whose work can be seen in Deep Ellum), to paint this wall along with an exterior larger-than-life artwork facing the pool. “Graffti is one of my favorite forms of art because each city's graffti has its own flavor, and it reflects the unique talents of the artists in that area.
“My mantra is #OnlyJoy, and one of the most joyful pieces of art I’ve seen is Blind Kolor’s toucan. I love how mischievous he is, as if he tagged the inside of my house and then brought it outside—because he couldn’t help himself. You just can’t help but smile,” says Wu.
For Kathleen Wu, personal style reflects both her love of travel and spending time at her well-appointed, art-centric home.