"I spend a lot of time looking at old houses, churches, museums, all full of inspiration for any designer."
Ashley Hicks Studio
We looked to designer Ashley Hicks for the inspiration behind his capsule collection with Frette.
CAPSULE COLLECTION AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY AT THE NEW LONDON FLAGSHIP STORE
What determined your passion for design?
Growing up as David Hicks’ son left me no option. He was always designing, always perfecting our various homes. At age 7, my bedroom for example, had his striped fabric stuck to the walls like a Regency campaign tent, with bed and chairs upholstered in khaki tweed with scarlet borders, like an army officer’s uniform. The bedsheets were his design too, printed with a geometric pattern made from his logo of 4 H’s joined in a cross. I had a branded childhood!
What inspires you?
From historical interiors – everything from the classical world to the 70’s – the Renaissance is a particular love but I have what the English call Catholic taste – I like every kind of style – almost. I spend a lot of time looking at old houses, churches, museums, all full of inspiration for any designer. I also love natural forms like coral and twisted old wood which I always collect on holiday.
Who are your mentors?
So many – my father; Jean-Michel Frank; Rateau; Soane; Vanbrugh; Henry Holland; Ledoux; William Morris; Tony Duquette, etc etc. They’re all dead, I’m afraid.
What is the art field you are most interested in?
To look at? Painting, especially Renaissance painted rooms but also people like Richard Dadd, Vuillard and Walter Sickert. I’m afraid that I have less interest in contemporary art, which I find exhaustingly over-hyped today.
How was the project with Frette born?
Ever since those childhood days sleeping in my father’s logo print I have always wanted to design my own collection of bed linens. And apart from my obvious love of Italy (a part from being a crazy Renaissance fan, a part from my two half-Italian daughters and my two Italian greyhounds), it was obvious to look to Italy for a partner to collaborate with, as the Italians are known worldwide for their superlative quality in textiles. Frette is a brand that is already well represented in my house (my wife’s Frette slippers are a favourite with the Italian Greyhound), so I was very excited when they agreed to collaborate on this line of bed linens.
How was the project with Frette born?
I wanted an embroidered design that would bridge my father’s sixties geometrics and the more loose, random styles of African and Oceanic tribal art. I came up with a hexagonal, geometric meander that has a tight, restrained energy. I used this as embroidery, with a simplified version in appliquéd grosgrain ribbon on a bedspread (one of my signature touches to any bedroom.) To avoid an overly contrived look, I added decorative pillows in one of my own print designs, Salvadori, which I adapted from a 15th Century Florentine velvet fragment in the V&A, redrawn by me to emulate early woodcut prints with hatching and subtle shading that gives the design a slight three-dimensionality.
Do you think you will develop other projects with Frette in the future?
Of course I would love to. The quality of Frette’s product makes it an irresistible magnet for any designer to work with.
How do you describe sleeping on Frette linens?
To quote Tina Turner, "SIMPLY THE BEST."
What are the design books, magazines and web sites you like the most? (Apart from yours)
Cabana Magazine is a great visual delight. I have a large library of design books; the most prized is Durand’s ‘Recueil’ of architecture published in Paris in 1801 or, as it says, the 9 th year of the Revolution. Websites I don’t really look at; I use Instagram a lot and enjoy following eccentric people like @theirishaesthete who shows decaying Irish country houses.
What is on your bedside table?
A kindle, which my wife gave me and which I’m dismayed to find that I prefer to paper books. I’m reading Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Purity’ now; just finished Edith Wharton’s 'Age of Innocence'. Also a glass of water and a wooden lamp which I had carved to my design in Jaipur 20 years ago, with a shade that I painted myself in a mosaic pattern.