Well last Thursday kicked off the start of my September events calendar, which is always super busy and inspiring! I am part of an exciting new business club run and hosted by Grant Pierrus, who some of you will know as The Interior Style Hunter. West Elm kindly invited us to their showroom on Tottenham Court Road for a chat with Joa Studholme, head colour consultant at Farrow & Ball, and the ever expressive interior designer Daniel Hopwood, former president of the BIID and judge on the tv show The Great Interior Design Challenge.
It was a pleasure to meet up with some of the other members of the group, Grant has selected a talented bunch of individuals who all bring their own flair and passion to their work so it was interesting to chat with them, discuss projects, social media, work life integration and the upcoming trade shows.
After enjoying a gin cocktail and chatting our way around the charcuterie table, we settled in for a fun and interesting discussion with Joa and Daniel, hosted by Grant. Farrow & Ball are releasing new colours this September and although Joa didn’t divulge what the colours would be, she did hint that they would be rich and warm – I’m imagining an autumnal range of perhaps a new orange, red, yellow, deep blue and maybe a warm grey/neutral. There will be nine new colours in total released on the 20th of the month, they’ve been three years in the making and I’m sure they’ll be worth the wait! Joa is spearheading the resistance towards ‘the death of grey’, for so long it’s been the ‘on trend’ look, and now we’re seeing more flamboyant use of colour layered throughout interiors, not just as pops of colour in an otherwise grey space. Joa and Grant discussed pink as the reactionary colour to the current political Brexit situation, and how history leaves clues to how and why trends in colour arise. Wearing her floral skirt and green camo shirt, Joa confidently asserted her passion for colour, painted ceilings, gloss paint and being brave with your ideas.
Daniel opened by discussing technology in homes (and the pitfalls of an integrated Alexa home…) and what apps he’s using as tools in the studio. He also touched on why recently there has been a shift in his client base, from middle class professional to the super rich, and how this has informed his designs. Grant is an excellent host and kept the conversation light and informal, opening up the floor to questions and involving us as the audience.
I had the chance to chat with Joa afterwards and discuss the problem we face all too often with contractors refusing to use Farrow & Ball paint. In my experience, it’s almost impossible to accurately colour match a Farrow & Ball paint and this can cause disagreements when contractors insist on only using a Johnstones or Dulux trade paint, but we as designers are pushing for the Farrow & Ball colours that pull our schemes together. Farrow & Ball paint is rather watery but it’s packed with pigment, which can make it trickier to apply, but the end result is a thing of beauty. Other paints have a thicker plastic-like consistency, which makes them cheaper to manufacture, easier to apply and easier to touch up when snagging, but the finished result can be flat and quite lifeless. It’s understandable why contractors feel more comfortable with paints marketed towards the trade, but I would always push for a Farrow & Ball, Little Greene or Paint & Paper Library paint, because in the end you get what you pay for, and the finish is everything.
After catching up with Grant and saying my goodbyes to the group, I had a quick wander around the showroom to see what they had going on. West Elm has a great website and the images on there are a good representation of the actual products, but you can’t beat seeing and touching products in the flesh. Their accessories are always a draw, super reasonable in price and so easy to style with, a favourite with adding a bit of life and personality to high end show homes. The stacks of agate coasters are obviously really popular, and they have a coordinating range of book ends and other accessories for a touch of glamour. The Timothy Goodman mugs & planters with their fun slogans on are an easy way to add a little humour into an interior, and the crewel geo waves cushions stood out as a really tactile piece as a simple way to add in some texture and colour to an armchair or sofa.
West Elm also have a massive catalogue of great furniture pieces, particularly their mid century inspired pieces are a joy to use, just like the leather dining chair pictured. Their Adam Court dining chair is one that I haven’t used before but I can confirm it’s well made, and comfortable! I’ll no doubt be using some West Elm pieces in a new build residential project I’m working on, it’s a great middle ground between bespoke pieces and generic high street design and will continue to be a favourite to source from.
Yesterday I had a very exciting meeting about a project for next summer, but I can’t say any more on that at the moment. I’ve recently updated the software we use in the studio for technical drawing so I’ll be having a play around on that this week, as well as drawing up some joinery for a project I’m assisting another designer on. My lovely rep Agnes from Casamance came in this morning with their new collection and I’m awaiting a drop of samples from Pierre Frey off my wonderful rep Sarah so I can get scheming with them.
Design Week starts for me on Sunday and I’ll be heading to Decorex before heading off to the RA for a talk hosted by Thomas Heatherwick, which I can barely contain my excitement about! He was a huge inspiration to me during my studies at KLC School of Design and I will continue to marvel at his creative genius. I can’t wait to hear his lecture on Sunday, and in such a beautiful setting as well, what a treat!
Director & Head of Design
Studio JQ Ltd