The Power List | Joa Studholme, Colour Curator, Farrow & Ball   

After a short break for Awards week, the Power List returns with a focus on the luxury storytellers – the people at the heart of the luxury experience enchanting customers with their brand stories. Farrow & Ball is one such brand that excels in telling stories – with F&B’s Colour Curator, Joa Studholme, explaining the inspiration behind their intriguingly named paints (Sulking Room Pink and Elephant’s Breath, anyone?) – and their recent Walpole Award-nominated collaboration with the Natural History Museum. 

How do you use the DNA of your brand to tell new and exciting stories?

When you have been immersed in the wonderful and colourful world of Farrow & Ball as long as I have, you have a great sense of pride in a brand that has grown to be a marker of great taste. Our historic roots and the fact that we still make our paint to the same exacting standards as we did over 70 years ago, in the same sleepy Dorset town, are certainly part of our DNA, but now of course there is a fabulously exciting eco story to tell. We are now kinder to our planet and those who share it by making our paint formulas water based and both our packaging and waste recyclable. So it makes complete sense that our most exciting recent story is about creating colours taken from the rare book library in The Natural History Museum that perfectly reflect the colours of nature.

How do you continue to use storytelling to surprise and delight customers?

The stories and names behind our palette are almost as important as the colours themselves. Many drive imaginations wild trying to visualize the colour with which they are associated, and all are intriguing, like our recently launched colour Skimmed Milk White which takes its reference from the white of the human eyeball! The dusty pink colour Peignoir was named after the chiffon robe often worn by ladies after bathing and is the perfect pairing with Sulking Room Pink which was inspired by the shade used for traditional boudoirs. We spent some time considering how the boudoir got its name, only to discover it comes from the French bouder, meaning “to sulk”, hence Sulking Room Pink.   In these troubled times making colours that feel protective and comforting feels so important. Bancha is one such colour and is named after the green tea which also offers us comfort. My favourite story however is the one that we can create in people’s homes by using exciting or soothing colours to make safe luxurious havens for them to escape to.