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5 Minutes With… Joa Studholme

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of colour here at G&G, which is why we were thrilled to host an event with Farrow & Ball’s International Colour Consultant Joa Studholme earlier this year.

Since the event, we caught up with Joa to find out more about her work with Farrow & Ball and her new book, Recipes for Decorating.


Joa Studholme

Your new book approaches colour like cooking; an art for enjoyment and expression. What inspired this idea and how did you translate this approach into writing?

Many years ago I began to think about how paint colours are like ingredients in a recipe. Both cooking and decorating involve their own peculiar alchemy and the principles behind producing an appetising dish, or an inviting scheme, are much the same.  The colours used in a room need to be combined and balanced, just like ingredients are when being made into a culinary dish, to create something that is far greater than the sum of its parts.   How colour is used on skirting, ceilings, window frames and joinery is just as important as the walls so I wanted to share the recipes that have been used in thirteen case study houses by way of images followed by a single page outlining an overview of all the colours.  And then for a bit of fun we reimagined them into a larder scenario.

Tell us a little about your relationship with Farrow & Ball and how you first started working with them?

I have always been obsessed with colour and as a small child I spent an inordinate amount of time rearranging my set of Caran Dache crayons to see how different colour combinations worked.  I still treasure them to this day and feel incredibly lucky to have grown up to work with the phenomenon that is Farrow & Ball. I have no formal training but rather am Farrow & Ball home grown, and am passionate about my craft. I have now had the privilege of working with these deeply saturated colours for over twenty years. Farrow & Ball life for me is very varied – I develop the colours and for my sins name them, I give many talks about the use of colour and have now written two books on the subject, but I spend the majority of my time working as a consultant guiding people with choice and combination of colours in their homes.  As long as I am working with colour I am happy.

Who, or what, is your biggest interior inspiration?

The artist Rothko introduced me to the use and love of colour as did the sculptor Anish Kapoor, but I must give a special mention to Tom Helme who originally developed the Farrow & Ball colour pallet.

Farrow & Ball Paean Black
Farrow & Ball Rangwali

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would be it?

Although I consider myself pretty well travelled I am ashamed to say that I have never been to South America so should obviously choose there, but my heart is so firmly imbedded in India I simply wouldn’t be able to resist yet another Indian adventure.  I particularly love travelling by train across this vibrant country which is absolutely packed with extraordinarily colour. Every moment spent there is totally inspiring.  Rangwali, one of the latest Farrow & Ball colours did indeed originate from the highly coloured powder which is thrown around with such abandon at the Hindi ceremony of Holi.

And finally, what is the one thing you can’t live without?

I absolutely could not live without the radio in any of its forms – I am not very good at silence and constantly devour podcasts and true crime series.  I usually listen through my phone but have a wonderful collection of Tivoli Radios in various colours depending on the decoration of the room.  And I also couldn’t live without my Smythson Portobello Diary which contains not only my work schedule but also all my clients colour notes.  It is a huge extravagance but I now have nearly 20 in beautiful different hues piled in my office and wait with excited anticipation to see what colours they will have for 2020!

Farrow & Ball Bancha
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