A client fell in love with the stunning turquoise native to Iran, so in February 2017 I went in search of these beautiful blue-green stones.
I was greeted by a country full of bright, vibrant colours. Isfahan is packed with Persian architectural wonders and Unesco World Heritage sites. One of my favourites is the huge 17th century Shah Mosque: its turquoise dome and minarets are covered in intricate mosaic tile work and artfully scrolling calligraphy.
The markets are amazing too – down-to-earth and organic. Saffron and Persian carpets are still the favourite items to return with, but there are other treasures: hessian sacks filled with vibrant spices from cumin to cardamom, vanilla pods, peppercorns and pink Himalayan salt. The pottery and ceramics are unlike anywhere else: you want to buy pieces, take them home and have a dinner party immediately.
Iranians are so friendly and welcoming, and they feed you a lot of food – 13-15 courses is normal. Food is an art form over there: beautiful, colourful and incredibly tasty. They also have sweet tooths. Yazd is famous for its pastries – almond baklava, cardamom cakes full of pistachios, and ghotab, a deep-fried doughnut full of almonds. And they have dates with everything – Iran is the world’s biggest exporter of the sweet fruit. I used to hate dates; now I’m addicted.
Katharine Pooley is an interior designer.