David Nightingale Hicks
|David Nightingale Hicks|
|Born||25 March 1929|
|Died||29 March 1998(aged 69)|
|Occupation||Interior decorator and designer|
|Spouse(s)||Lady Pamela Hicks|
Iris Elsie Platten
David Nightingale Hicks (25 March 1929 – 29 March 1998) was an English interior decorator and designer, noted for using bold colours, mixing antique and modern furnishings, and contemporary art for his famous clientele.
Early life and education
David Nightingale Hicks was born at Coggeshall, Essex, the son of stockbroker Herbert Hicks and Iris Elsie (née Platten). He attended Charterhouse School and graduated from the Central College of Art.
After a brief period in the army he began work drawing cereal boxes for J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency. His career as designer-decorator was launched to media-acclaim in 1954 when the British magazine House & Garden featured the London house he decorated (at 22 South Eaton Place) for his mother and himself.
An early introduction by Fiona Lonsdale, wife of banker Norman Lonsdale, to Peter Evans initiated business partnership in London as the pair, now joined by architect Patrick Garnett, set about designing, building and decorating a restaurant chain (Peter Evans Eating Houses) in London's "hotspots", such as Chelsea and Soho.
Evans said of Hicks:
"[He] was without a doubt a genius. He would walk into the most shambolic of spaces that I had decided would be a restaurant, a pub or a nightclub and, lighting up a cigarette, would be out of the place within ten minutes, having decided what atmosphere it would generate because of what it would look like. He always got it spot on."
Hicks and the architectural practice Garnett Cloughley Blakemore (GCB) collaborated on a series of private commissions, including a house on Park Lane for Lord and Lady Londonderry and an apartment for Hicks's brother-in-law, film producer Lord Brabourne. The firm also worked on a new house in London for Hicks's father-in-law, Earl Mountbatten. GBC achieved international recognition when it refurbished the George V Hotel in Paris for the Trust House Forte group. Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film A Clockwork Orange featured GCB's Chelsea Drugstore.
Hicks's early clients mixed aristocracy, media and fashion. He did projects for Vidal Sassoon, Helena Rubinstein, Violet Manners (who became the Duchess of Rutland), Mrs. Condé Nast and Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. He made carpets for Windsor Castle and decorated the Prince of Wales's first apartment at Buckingham Palace. Hicks started to design patterned carpets and fabrics when he found none on the market that he considered good enough. These and his hyper-dynamic colour sense formed the basis of a style which was much admired and copied. In 1967, Hicks began working in the USA, designing apartments in Manhattan for an international clientele, and at the same time promoting his carpet and fabric collections. Hicks also designed sets for Richard Lester's 1968 movie Petulia, starring Julie Christie.
In the 1970s/80s Hicks shops opened in fifteen countries around the world. He designed, for example, guestrooms at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo, the public rooms of the British Ambassador's Residence in Tokyo, with only mixed success, and the yacht of the King of Saudi Arabia. Hicks was a talented photographer, painter and sculptor and produced fashion and jewelry collections. He designed the interior of a BMW and scarlet-heeled men's evening shoes.
He wrote, in one of his nine practical design books, David Hicks on Living — With Taste, that his "greatest contribution... has been to show people how to use bold color (sic) mixtures, how to use patterned carpets, how to light rooms and how to mix old with new."
Some of Hicks's later work may be seen at Belle Isle, Fermanagh, where the Duke of Abercorn hired him to redecorate the interior of the castle in the 1990s. Hicks decorated the duke's main house, Baronscourt, in the 1970s.
"Though it was common knowledge in English society that the eminent designer had gay inclinations, he did have a long marriage to the very grand Lady Pamela Mountbatten, with whom he produced three children." As the designer Nicky Haslam expressed incredulity to W Magazine,: “David not gay? David Hicks was the gayest person who’s ever been!”
- Edwina Victoria Louise Hicks (born 24 December 1961)
- Ashley Hicks (born 18 July 1963)
- India Amanda Caroline Hicks (born 5 September 1967).
Hicks spent the last years of his life at Britwell House in Oxfordshire, where he created a garden.
A chain smoker, Hicks died from lung cancer, aged 69 at Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire. He designed his own coffin, in which he 'lay in state', according to his precise instructions, in the ground-floor room of his gothic garden pavilion. He was buried on 4 April 1998 in Brightwell Baldwin, Oxfordshire, where his grave is marked by an obelisk-shaped tombstone.
His son, Ashley Hicks, is an architect and designer. In 2006 he completed David Hicks: Designer – a celebration of his father's work.
His daughter India has written two books about design, Island Life and Island Beauty.
- Hicks' profile in Britannica
- "Painting the Town ‘Red’". APID Newsletter. 25 October 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Gibson, David (2 April 1998). "David Hicks, 69, Interior Design Star of the 60's, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Interior Design webpage
- Hicks, David N. David Hicks on Decoration (Leslie Frewin Publ. 1966)
- Sandbrook, Dominic. Never Had It So Good, Little Brown Publ., 2005
- "Patrick Garnett", The Telegraph, 13 May 2006.
- The Guardian report on the redesign of GCB's Chelsea Drugstore], 8 June 2006
- Hicks, David. David Hicks on Living -- With Taste 1968
- Reginato, James. "Nicky Haslam". W Magazine. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
- "Frightfully common". The Good Funeral Guide. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Hicks' profile at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online
- "Books by India Hicks". India Hicks. 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2012.