Jamie Beck's Studio Walls: An Endless Inspiration for Natural Textures

Iconic, patinated, and most of all quintessentially provencal, discover the most coveted walls of the internet.

Words by ELISA BO | images credit ©JamieBeck

Everything about photographer-extraordinaire Jamie Beck is fabulous, from her stellar fashion photographer career in New-York ( shooting for Cartier, Chanel or Harper’s Bazaar to name just a few) to her striking art journey in Provence where she gives the words authenticity and beauty a new meaning. And while she enchants her fans - myself included - with romantic self-portraits and wondrous still life, the breathtaking atmosphere of her studio hasn’t gone unnoticed by decor enthusiasts. Orange tomettes, antique mantel and large windows adorn the place, highlighting with grace the most incredible patinated walls that you will ever see. Sometimes dazzling, sometimes enigmatic, the Walls à la Jamie Beck inspire as much as they captivate, and became in just a few year as iconic as an antique Louis XVI armchair.

Despite a busy schedule with the launch of her first book « An American In Provence » - in which you can admire many pictures of her fantastic studio - Jamie still took the time to talk all things walls with me, and I couldn’t be more happy to feature la plus Française des Américaines on today’s interview.

Can you tell us a few words about the historical building where your studio is located ?
The building is what we call a Hôtel Particulier and was built on top of the old Roman City that was once named Apta Julia - which we now simply refer to as Apt - for a French family of Nobility. The left side of the building is where the wealthy family would have lived, and the right side, where my studio is located, would have been the servants’ quarters. 
Did you keep the walls as you found them or did you re-paint them? 
The walls are exactly as they looked the first time I walked in the front door six years ago! The couple who originally owned the apartment had stripped years of layers of wallpaper and paint off the walls, leaving or revealing, the beautiful texture I have now. 
What do you like about them? What do they evoke for you? 
For me, they feel like a hug. The way a hug from a grandparent feels. One that is secure in time, a visible aging on the face that lets you know they’ve survived it all. I absolutely love how imperfect they are, messy like our lives. I love the visual movement of tones and how they dance. These walls feel alive to me. I feel them breathe when I breathe. 

On your photos the walls display many changing nuances and I wonder what are their true colours ?
It is an arrange of tans, taupes, beige, brown, rust, and sage greens all whirled together like the crashing crest of an ocean wave. 
Are they quintessentially Provencal in your eyes?
I think it is a Provencal style that stretches all the way into the heart and soul of Italy. The style of natural lime wash paint dates back to Roman times and had a major role in Italian art movements and style which are still fashionable to this day with materials easily available in the south. There is something to the dusty look, the chalkiness, that feels right in this area of France, almost like a reflection of the terroir here. 
How would you describe the style of the walls, in your own words? 
Timeless in style and tonality, romantic like a forgotten château with memories of endless nights. 
Would you ever consider repainting them?
Absolutely NOT, never. They are my skin. 

Are they easy to maintain?
I don’t do anything to it but let it age gracefully.
Have you ever seen the same type of walls elsewhere?  
I have! There is a place in Provence called Chateau de Moissac that has done a beautiful job of creating this style of wall throughout the castle. They don’t have the tonal depth and colour variations mine does, but the artisan who painted it created them from nothing and well, doing an entire chateau you can’t make each wall a masterpiece!

What are your favourites objects & furnitures to decorate a room with walls like yours? 
Since this is my studio, I don’t hang art on these walls. However I would play with the idea of hanging a classic piece of art, a complimentary painting of sorts and furniture in natural fabrics like hemp or linen to play off texture and muted tones. 
Did you ever consider photographing your walls just like that? Like an abstract composition?
I have and I did! What I’d love to do one day is create a book from the South of France to Italy showcasing beautiful walls just like these!

Order Jamie’s book “An American in Provence” on amazon.com for the US , and on amazon.fr for France.
To bring a touch of Jamie’s magical Provence at home go check her website and don’t forget to visit her instagram.