Back in March I went along to the Crystal Palace Artists’ Open House weekend and caught up with James Balston (June’s Colour Couch interview) and he told me that I must go meet Anna and see her colourful home adding “She’s expecting you, I’ve told her all about you!”. So off I went and to say that Anna’s home is colourful is an understatement. It’s bursting full of vibrant colour. And I’m delighted to have the lovely Anna with us on the Colour Couch this month sharing her own personal journey with colour…
What is your earliest colour memory?
My earliest colour memory is of our family home, which we moved to when I was 5. It was all dark and grey when we moved in, but it was 1974 and my slightly hippy mum and dad fully embraced the orange stripped pine of the day, with lashings of brown hessian curtains and Indian textiles. Our beds also had egg yolk yellow sheets with orange flowery duvet covers. Possibly as a reaction to this yellow, orange and brown overload, I predominantly have cooler blues and greens in my home now, with some blush pink and ochre to warm it up.
What does colour mean to you?
It means visceral tangible joy and feeling truly alive. My experience of seeing beautiful colour is like your taste buds coming alive when you eat an exceptional gourmet meal. I feel nourished and invigorated by beautiful colour.
Do you have a favourite colour or a colour that you find yourself constantly drawn to? And why?
I have always loved a slightly dirty yet vivid turquoise/teal. It is a colour I find both stimulating and deeply peaceful at the same time. When I was about 10, I refused to wear any other colour than turquoise. Incomprehensibly, I then went through a maroon phase. Other colours I’m consistently drawn to are pretty much all neons – I love that incredible red/orange neon colour, neon pink, neon yellow and green. They’re like a Jaeger Bomb hit of brain buzz.
Do you have a colour that you least like? And why?
My least favourite colour is purple – particularly the classic hippy or spiritual purple. I do love deep pinky purples, or even rich reddy purples, pale vivid lilacs and smokey aubergine purples, but it’s that bang-on mid-hue that gets me. I don’t really know why, but interestingly, I never use purple in my interior or product design.
What do you love most about working with colour?
I love the magic! Colour is so transformative both for a space and for our emotional and mental state. There are literally millions of combinations and subtleties that you can tease out with colour, so it never gets boring, just increasingly fascinating.
What do you think your life would be like without colour?
I know for a fact I would be far less happy. Until 18 months ago I’d been living in a rented flat which was all cream walls and beige carpets and I felt I couldn’t do anything to it. It got to the stage where I felt depressed every time I walked through the front door. Since painting my new rented flat in so many bright colours and patterns, I feel viscerally happy every moment I’m in it.
Were you ever afraid or wary of colour? And what did you do to overcome this?
Yes! When I was in my teens I only wore black and remember thinking very specifically that anyone who wore colour was ‘pathetic’. How dreadful is that! I thought people who wore colour were just trying to stand out and that colour was cheap and shallow, which reflected my general demeanour of being rather angry and withdrawn at the time. My first step away from black was to ask for a grey jumper for Christmas and my mum nearly fell off her chair with delight! As I gradually became happier and more confident in myself I started wearing more colour and now I wear bright colours almost all the time! In fact I very rarely wear black now.
What’s your favourite colour story?
The story of how mauveine, the first synthetic purple was discovered! In 1856, William Henry Perkin, then age 18, was given a challenge by his professor, to synthesize quinine in an attempt to create a cure for malaria. In one attempt, all he got at the bottom of his test tube was a black sticky mess, basically he had failed. However, while cleaning the tube with alcohol, Perkin noticed the water being infused with purple from the sticky mess – and so the very first purple dye was discovered!
For anyone afraid of colour what would your number 1 piece of advice be?
Coming from an interiors perspective, I would say ease in gently. Choose colours you really love, rather than ones that follow trends, because you will be living with them for a while. Then test test test the colours. Paint 2m of wallpaper lining paper with a tester pot and tape it to the wall you’re decorating. Leave it there for several days, so that you can see it in different lights and to see how you really feel about it. Other than that, start with a limited space and just go for it! You may be surprised and if it really is dreadful you CAN paint over it.
Which colourful person do you most admire and would love me to interview for the On the Colour Couch series?
Well Tricia Guild was my first colour inspiration and I really admire her success in forging her own brand with its bold beautiful colours that were so unusual and fresh in the midst of the ubiquitous orange and brown of the 70s. Not only that, but she was a young single mum when she did it and I know how tough that is!
I’m so pleased to hear that Anna would like to see Tricia Guild on the Colour Couch. I met Tricia back in February at the Fashion and Textile Museum opening of her exhibition and I asked her back then if she would be up for it and she said yes, and then our world turned upside down… This is a reminder to get back in touch with her! I hope she remembers me!
If you would like to discover more about Anna’s colourful world, then head over to her Instagram @annalysejacobs.
Wishing you a colourful day,