Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Honoring the Greats: David Hicks

Undoubtedly one of the most (if not the most) influential interior designers of the twentieth century was David Hicks.  In fact, nearly any geometric print, whether it be Cole & Son's infamous Hicks wallpaper or Mary McDonald's geometric rug collection, is inspired by David's original designs. Hicks was known as a firecracker, both for his explosive personality and his bold design style, and was something of an English celebrity during the height of his career in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Hicks was born in 1929 in Essex, England and graduated from the Central College of Art in London. His first job out of college was working for an advertising agency, drawing cereal box designs.  Meanwhile, Hicks was redesigning his mother's London home on the side.  Everything changed for David when House & Garden published a glowing article featuring Mrs. Hicks refreshed home in 1954-  David realized his true calling, and become a full-fledged decorator.  

David soon became THE authority on English design during the 1960s, most notably for his electrifying color combinations and his mix of antiques and modern furniture with pop art and abstract paintings.  He deplored chintz, which was the popular Victorian motif of the day, and doused rooms in strong magentas, reds, and chocolate browns with tightly woven geometric patterns.  When I picture the swinging 60s in England (i.e. Austin Powers), I immediately picture David Hicks. 

His clientele were a mix of fashion icons, media celebrities, and the aristocracy.  He did projects for Vidal Sassoon, Mrs. Conde Nast, and decorated the Prince of Wale's first apartment at Buckingham Palace.  His love of fame was perpetuated when he married Lady Pamela Mountbatten, the youngest daughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma.  Together they had three children, model and designer India Hicks, architect and designer Ashley Hicks, and Edwina Hicks.   Lady Pamela once told the press that David's affinity for high gloss brown walls came about after she began throwing glasses of Coca-Cola at him during moments of marital discord. 

{David Hicks pictured with a bikini model. He became a fixture in British high society during the 60s and 70s.}

By the 1970s, David Hicks, Ltd. was producing wallpaper, fabric, and carpets that mirrored his regimented yet bold aesthetic and showcasing them in boutiques and offices in 8 countries.  

"My greatest contribution as an interior designer has been to show people how to use bold color mixtures, how to use patterned carpets, how to light rooms and how to mix old with new." - David Hicks

Want to learn more?  David's son, Ashley Hicks, has written a few books honoring his father's work and legacy, and David himself wrote 8 instructional books on design and decoration during his life.  This is my personal favorite

Check out my previous Honoring the Greats posts:


What say you? I'm all ears.

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