joan-headshotby Amanda Wells

For Fondren interior designer Joan Hawkins, her job isn’t just about making a space attractive, it’s a process that involves mixing mediums and understanding composition — her spaces are her own work of art.

Hawkins, a Little Rock native, laughs when we talk about where her creative yearning came from. “My dad was in insurance, my mom in finance and my sister is an accountant,” she jokes. “I’m definitely the black sheep!”

Hawkins studied fine art at Millsaps College before starting a family. “I stayed home with my children for three and a half years and found myself ready to get back to having my own identity.” It was then that she began her design business out of her home. “I’ve always been attracted to mixing media,” she says. “Interiors are a composition, just like any other piece of art.”

While it may seem unnecessary to some, Hawkins insists that it is extremely important for a home to be beautiful and well taken care of. “What’s on the outside reflects what’s on the inside,” says Hawkins. “If your home is in chaos, you will never get to truly relax. You’ll just spin your wheels.”

Psychology plays a large part in her work. “There’s a lot of vulnerability in letting someone come into your home,” she explains. “It’s like my clients peel back the onion and expose their life, their place to recharge. As a result, there’s an intimacy that evolves between designer and client.”

Hawkins is a firm believer in the fact that your home should tell “your story,” not the designer’s. While she personally leans toward an intellectual, sophisticated style, complete with neutral surfaces and well-thought-out pops of color, she spends time getting to know her client and reflecting their story, not hers. “I like to provide a foundation in timeless, classic design that you can accent with fun, vibrant pops of color,” she explains. “You don’t want a home that will date itself in five years. With a neutral palette, you can layer in color and change things up more easily. It really is like painting on a canvas.”

Joan Hawkins Art and Interiors recently moved into its third Fondren location since 2008, now in Duling School near Saltine Oyster Bar. “This is a tight knit community,” she says. “It has always proven to be a natural fit for me. I went to Millsaps, lived in Belhaven, and have seen other cities have a design district, which is good for everyone to have a place to walk around. My overall hope and intent is to see that continue to grow.”

Not only is Hawkins passionate about her neighborhood, but her community of designers. “I hope to bridge the gap and have the same kind of intimacy I have with employees and clients with other designers,” she says. “It’s a very insulated field and we can all learn from each other.”

Color Theory

Color is one of the distinct things that sets Hawkins apart and she credits that knowledge to the study of color theorists Paul Klee and Josef Albers. “I’ve studied how colors are affected by being next to other colors,” says Joan. “I’m drawn to layering similar colors and how what I put around a specific shade affects that color. Color is the most fun way to push the envelope.”

Visit Hawkins’ blog at