David Hicks (designer)

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David Nightingale Hicks
Born(1929-03-25)25 March 1929
Coggeshall, Essex, England
Died29 March 1998(1998-03-29) (aged 69)
Brightwell Baldwin, Oxfordshire, England
OccupationInterior decorator and designer
SpouseLady Pamela Mountbatten
ChildrenEdwina Brudenell
Ashley Hicks
India Flint Wood

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.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

David Nightingale Hicks was born at Coggeshall, Essex, the son of stockbroker Herbert Hicks and Iris Elsie (née Platten). He was educated at Charterhouse[2] and the Central School of Arts and Crafts.[3]


After a brief period of National Service in the British army,[2] Hicks began work drawing cereal boxes for J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency.[4] 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)[5] for his mother and himself.[4]

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.[6]

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."[7]

Hicks and the architectural practice Garnett Cloughley Blakemore (GCB) collaborated on a series of private commissions,[8] 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. GCB 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.[9]

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.[2] 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 1960s, Hicks created a carpet pattern of interlocking hexagons known as Hicks' Hexagon which was prominently featured in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 psychological horror film, The Shining.[10]

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,[11] that his "greatest contribution... 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."

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.

Personal life[edit]

He married Lady Pamela Mountbatten (born 19 April 1929), the younger daughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma by his wife, the former Edwina Ashley.

David and Pamela Hicks were married on 13 January 1960 at Romsey Abbey in Hampshire. They had three children:

He owned 'The Temple' at Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk in the 1950s.[12][13]


Hicks spent the last years of his life at The Grove, Brightwell Baldwin in Oxfordshire, where he created a garden.

A chain smoker,[14] Hicks died from lung cancer on March 29, 1998, aged 69, at his home. 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.[15]


His eldest daughter, Edwina, has created her own fabric book titled 'Motifs'. [1]

His son, Ashley Hicks, is an architect and designer. In 2006 he completed David Hicks: Designer – a celebration of his father's work.

His youngest daughter, India, has written two books about design, Island Life and Island Beauty.[16]


  1. ^ Hicks' profile in Britannica
  2. ^ a b c "Painting the Town 'Red'". APID Newsletter. 25 October 2010. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  3. ^ Elizabeth Lomas, Guide to the Archive of Art and Design, Victoria & Albert Museum (Taylor & Francis, 2001), p. 136
  4. ^ a b Gibson, David (2 April 1998). "David Hicks, 69, Interior Design Star of the 60's, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  5. ^ Interior Design webpage[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Hicks, David N. David Hicks on Decoration (Leslie Frewin Publ. 1966)
  7. ^ Sandbrook, Dominic. Never Had It So Good, Little Brown Publ., 2005
  8. ^ "Patrick Garnett", The Telegraph, 13 May 2006.
  9. ^ The Guardian report on the redesign of GCB's Chelsea Drugstore], 8 June 2006
  10. ^ "Checkmate! The story behind Kubrick's carpet in The Shining revealed". FilmandFurniture.com. 24 November 2017. Archived from the original on 16 August 2021. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  11. ^ Hicks, David. David Hicks on Living -- With Taste 1968
  12. ^ "Obituary: David Hicks". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  13. ^ "Et in Arcadia – The Temple, Stoke-by-Nayland". Geoff Heath-Taylor. 24 April 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Frightfully common". The Good Funeral Guide. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  15. ^ Hicks' profile at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online
  16. ^ "Books by India Hicks". India Hicks. 2011. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012.