Heritage

What It's Like to Grow Up With a World-Famous Designer as a Father

India Hicks talks about her relationship with David Hicks, the prolific decorator who designed the Prince of Wales’s private living quarters.
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Having David Hicks as your father was anything but dull. I assumed that everyone lived in a world of vibrating color, where walls of pink felt met purple tweed cushions, clashing with vermillion carpets and maroon upholstered furniture.

My parents married on a wintery day in Hampshire in 1960. So cold and full of snow that Noel Coward said, “This is carrying interior decorating too far!”

My father was, and remains to this day, a name to conjure with.

My father was and remains to this day, a name to conjure with. He made a statement. Unlike many other designers, you can tell a "Hicks" room. He mixed yesterday with today before anybody else. Who had previously thought to place a Louis XV commode in a modern room?

He was completely confident in his use of color and pattern. He had a fearless relationship with pink, scarlet, and orange. He woke up the quiet drawing rooms of England and blew away the cobwebs. He was a voracious explorer, discovering architectural wonders and surprises and never once thought that a gate marked "private" actually meant private and would take us, as children, on grand tours around Europe, my brother paying full attention, my sister and I dreaming of ponies.


David and India Hicks

We had a tricky relationship at times. It was hard on occasion for my siblings and me to reconcile ourselves to the fact our father detested Christmas so much he decided not to come at all. However he had an energetic sense of humor, was a great enthusiast, and utterly determined. Nothing was impossible if he wanted something done. And immediate action normally followed.

When his license was taken away, he would drive across fields (some his own, some belonging to neighbors) and walk the last half-mile in order to make the early morning Sunday service. He was prone to exquisite snobberies, which were liable to sudden changes. In his final days, he suffered a small heart attack. My mother called an ambulance which upon arrival my father refused to get in; he would not be driven in such a common vehicle and insisted my mother drive him herself.

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He designed absolutely everything around him, from the nose of a client to my mother’s hair-do. The only thing he did not design was his logo symbol, his "H" sign; it was designed by the son of a local farmer as a thank you for mentoring him. This logo went everywhere: writing paper, sheets, carpets, fabrics, notepads, umbrellas, biscuit tins, aprons. He then elaborated this geometric "H" symbol into an entire alphabet, the letters of which became the wallpaper of my childhood.

*This story originally appeared on Townandcountry.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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