Ashley Hicks Studio
We looked to designer Ashley Hicks for the inspiration behind his capsule collection with Frette.
A bedroom designed by Ashley Hicks
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!
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.
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.
Details of a living room designed by Ashley Hicks
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.
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 (apart from being a crazy Renaissance fan, apart 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.
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.
Of course, I would love to. The quality of Frette’s product makes it an irresistible magnet for any designer to work with.
To quote Tina Turner, "SIMPLY THE BEST."
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 9th 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.
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.