Photo used with permission The Estate of David Hicks
Do you know David Hicks? Another amazing person that played a critical role in midcentury interior design. I am just starting to study him, so am by no means an expert, but so far what I have learned: David Hicks was famous for helping introduce the world of interior design to: Tight bold geometric prints, bright-colored furniture, mixing the old and new, shaking things up…. 1960s into 1970s interior design as we know it!
Hicks was not only a design genius — he was a dashing celebrity in England and the world beyond. Notice all the geometrics… and the colors: These are hot hotter hottest today. Today’s designers did not invent these looks — David Hicks did!
David Hicks is acknowledged as one of the most important interior designers of the late twentieth century, in the company of Albert Hadley and Billy Baldwin. Known for his bold use of color, eclecticism, and geometric designs in carpets and textiles, Hicks turned English decorating on its head in the ’50s and ’60s. His trademark use of electrifying color combinations, and mixing antiques, modern furniture, and abstract paintings became the “in style” for the chic of the day, including Vidal Sassoon and Helena Rubinstein. By the ’70s, David Hicks was a brand; his company was making wallpaper, fabrics, and linens and had outposts in eight countries, including the U.S. where he worked with the young Mark Hampton, and where his wallpaper was used in the White House. “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,’’ he stated in his 1968 work, David Hicks on Living—with Taste, the last authoritative book on his work. Written by his son Ashley Hicks, who has unprecedented access to Hicks’s archives, personal photos, journals, and scrapbooks, this is a vibrantly illustrated celebration of a half century of stunning interiors.
…Mr. Hicks’s heady combination of bold antiques and modern furniture set off by abstract paintings, often best deployed within an envelope of cool Georgian architecture, was the last word among movers and shakers of the 1960’s…. [his] relentlessly organized, color-clashing home interiors were the acme of jet-set chic in the 1960’s.
”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,” he wrote in ”David Hicks on Living — with Taste” (1968).
…He shook up the genteel world of English decorating, combining a modern outlook with an informed sense of history; banished chintz and tepid colors in favor of scarlet and pink; lacquered walls the color of Coca-Cola; and artfully arranged groups of objects, both grand and humble, that he memorably called tablescapes.
His son, Ashley, himself an architect and furniture designer, said his father’s “preoccupation with making interiors that grabbed the eye when published is a perfect recipe for designers now in our genuinely media-obsessed world — he was 40 years ahead of his time in this.” [pam says: YES, he was! So much of what you see in media you see because It Photographs Well. Don’t think this means it’s Liveable or anything as prosaic as that!]
His later work, with its massive overscaling and deceptive simplicity greatly influenced by his hero Sir John Soane – with frequent chapeaux to Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor – became the classical trademark by which he will be best remembered, but it was his early decors, so violently heathen to the cretonned hearths of post-Festival Britain that brought him instant recognition, a well-observed and edited transatlantic- stroke-French chic that propelled him up ladders so fast his “international fun-folk bobble shoes”, as his contemporary Dominic Elwes noted, hardly touched the rungs.