Wednesday, April 27, 2011

David Who?

Over the last decade or so interior design has never been more popular! Countless magazines and television shows showcase what we can do to our humble abodes to make them worthy of any magazine shoot. Celebrity interior designers are a dime a dozen. However to me there is only one designer who is king, with a couple of others who are only mere consorts. And this one really did have a royal connection, married to the Duke of Edinburgh’s first cousin. And of course we are all familiar with his daughter India, who was also an attendant at the wedding of Prince Charles and the Lady Diana Spencer.

David Nightingale Hicks the superstar interior decorator and designer, famous for his employment of bold, shockingly vibrant colours, for mixing antique and modern furnishings and contemporary art for his famous clientele had all the Savoir Faire in the world. With a middle name such as Nightingale one would have to! Also married to Lady Pamela Mountbatten the younger daughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh the die was set to become the interior decorator by which all others are judged. His relentlessly organized, color-clashing home interiors were the acme of jet-set chic in the 1960's.

Known for his love of graphic color combinations as well as a temperament that veered between disarming charm and apoplectic rage, he moved through the circles of the rich and famous with aplomb.

His career as designer-decorator was launched to media-acclaim in 1954 when the British magazine House & Garden featured the London house he decorated, for his mother, and himself when at the time he was drawing cereal boxes for an advertising firm.
With Peter Evans a restaurateur he initiated a sparkling explosion of drama, colour and excitement in London by designing, building and decorating the Peter Evans Eating Houses, a restaurant chain in London's 'hot' spots of King's Road, Chelsea, Kensington Church Street, and Soho. The style epitomized the Swinging Sixties of London.

Peter Evans: "Hicks 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."

David Hicks' 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, like the beauty products tycoon Vidal Sassoon. For the American cosmetics diva Helena Rubenstein, he designed an infamous living room of purple tweed walls and Victorian furniture upholstered in magenta leather.

Royal commissions also came through his family connections and he made carpets for Windsor Castle and decorated the Prince of Wales's first apartment at Buckingham Palace.
If Hicks could not find a particular fabric, carpet or wallpaper he started designing his own. This and his hyper-dynamic colour sense formed the basis of a style which is much admired and copied.
In the 70's and 80's David Hicks shops opened in fifteen countries around the world. He designed, for example, guestrooms at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo and the yacht of the King of Saudi Arabia. It is said that if he couldn't find something he designed and made it.

Typically, and eccentrically, David Hicks even 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 killed every flower in his soul,'' said Min Hogg, editor of the trend-setting British magazine The World of Interiors, referring to the designer's hatred of chintz. ''His was a rigorous, very tailored look. So much of it was about control. There wasn't a wrinkle or crease anywhere.''

''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), one of nine practical design books bearing his byline.

Royal Wedding Fever

Lets face it all, wherever you turn there is some item of news on the forthcoming Royal nupitals due to take place. I must admit it is a bit of an overload, however due to the backgrounds of the bride and groom, interest is at an all time high.

Digging back in the past was a Royal wedding full of savoir faire! Can you guess who the lucky couple are?

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