You dream it, he masters it. Born in sunny Melbourne and raised between Australia and Malaysia, multi-award winner David Hicks pursued his passion for interior design from day one. Luckily, his passion came with an equal amount of talent and finesse. His work can be seen in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Dubai, Los Angeles…
Hicks is considered one of the most talented interior designers of his generation and it’s just impossible to deny it:
I have always liked architecture and design. When I was young I used to go to open houses with my parents and collect the brochures, complete with floor plans, and re design the spaces. My mother was a draftswoman when she was you younger and later in life a gallerist of high end contemporary Australian art.
Growing up my parents renovated several houses and I always admired my mother’s taste in simple, high quality materials and furniture, so I guess she was a big influence.
I am a person that likes to be in control of everything in my life, including my work. To achieve this, I work very hard and push myself each day to create and deliver bigger and better projects. To me becoming complacent is not an option.
My attention to detail is due to my personality and therefore my need to check everything and make sure there will be no problems with any of the design during construction. It is somewhat a control of the design idea. So yes, natural aptitude with a very strong work ethic.
“For me when I am working on a project with a client it is all about listening to what they want. I then use my expertise that I have built up over the years to help guide them on their design journey. Sometimes I agree with them and sometimes I don’t. either way I try to explain ideas and why they are right for the project or why they are not. Due to this I do see a reoccurring theme in my work being quality, well resolved and planned spaces that are personal to the client but with a touch of my hand writing.”
“It is very hard for me to design for myself. I have so many ideas and so much knowledge in design now that separating out what I really want can be tricky. It is easier when I do it for other people as I can listen and interpret the brief, but for myself it is constant thinking and analyzing. This can be overwhelming. I have just sold my apartment of 8 years. It was a beautiful apartment, simply planned, very streamlined and well ordered. It houses a collection of contemporary art, classical sculpture and a combination of modernist mid-century furniture and custom designed pieces.”
It was a bit of a melting pot of ideas and somewhat of a gallery space. I am now designing my new apartment and although it will be different in space planning and material palette it will still have the underlying principles of a well resolved plan and a limited palette of materials.
I am heavily influenced by modernism and minimalism when it comes to space planning and detailing but I also have a love of decoration. This adds the personal layer and combines many different eras of design along with influences from different continents. I like to think of my style as international as this is where my inspiration comes from.
I have a love of many different styles of design ranging from Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese and American, to name a few, but I would not feel the need to design to any one of those locations. I like to cherry pick the best ideas from around the world and incorporate them in my design work creating what I believe a truly unique look which could exist in any location.
My motto is “the show must always go on”. I have a very strong direction in my life and no matter if I am sick, feel sad or just cannot be bothered I always push myself forward with this saying.
A great design can aid in the progression of a fashion label. The interior of the store is a 3D interpretation of the labels design ethos and is a big advertisement for what that label stands for. It is an internal world created to cocoon customers and give them a taste of what the label is about. I love this about retail design, it is so interesting to design space that talks so much about a product or lifestyle.
“I would love to work more on hotel design. I believe that my experience in retail design along with high end residential is a perfect fit for this arena. I would love to create a lifestyle hotel that speaks to the real idea of luxury and contemporary design. To me that is about space, light, quality materials and furniture along with unique materials and artwork incorporated into the design.”
My work is my life. I live and breathe it, I love what I do and it is a part of me. My career is a bi-product of this and therefore is somewhat a barometer of where I am at in this journey. I would not want to change it for anything.
“My projects are always about the client, whether it be a retail store, restaurant or home. It then becomes about who is going to be using the space. For retail, it becomes more about showing the personality of the brand, so it is aimed at a target market. For restaurants it is somewhat similar, but not so much about the sale and more about the lifestyle aspect and how the customers are going to feel within the space. Residential development work can be more about people being attracted to my work. As they are going to be living in these spaces I feel people will more look to other work that you have completed to see if there is an infinity with it. So, I do think a little bit about both.”
This is the reason I keep doing what I do. It is so rewarding to create something and then see it built. When a project is finished and the decorative element is installed and the project has come to its fruition, the sense of joy is immense. I especially love photographing these spaces and capturing them in time, as this is another layer of design direction.
We work very closely with our private clients, I feel this is the best way to get to know them and how they live. The process of design and building can also be a long period of time so it is inevitable that we get to know them. We often become friends, especially if we have similar interests. It is very rewarding and the reason why I called my book Intimate: A Private World of Interiors.
The world is always evolving and therefore so is how people like to live. This in turn evolves design and what we do. It keeps things fresh and allows us to look for other ways to achieve results. Construction methods and the availability of materials is also constantly evolving so this also helps progress ideas. I generally tend to push ahead in my own direction using this as an aid, I never want to sit still and go along for the ride. The reason I keep doing what I do is due to constant change.
You have published a very fascinating book recently; how did it feel?
It was an amazing feeling. A great accomplishment for me which allowed me to look back over my career and put together a concise record of what I have been doing. It was always something I wanted to do and, although it took me two years, was an amazing process.
My work is my life so it is easy to balance. Sometimes it becomes stressful, especially when we are on deadline or are doing 70-hour weeks. The design industry is very busy right now so it’s a time of ‘take it whilst you can get it’ mentality. I am sure there may be a quieter time in the future, although in my 15 years of practice I have never been quiet. Although I may do some work on the weekends I try not to come into the office. This break allows me to recharge and be ready for the week ahead.
I’m most thankful for my dogs. They are a breath of fresh air for me. I take them to work with me everyday to remind me how simple life can be. They also help calm down the office in stressful periods with their wagging tales and friendly faces.
For me the most rewarding part is seeing my ideas come to fruition. I love the process of building and seeing materials and detailing transform into a built form. It is very satisfying.
Do you still feel that rush and enthusiasm when starting a new project?
Always. There is nothing better than embarking on a new project. The fear of the unknown as they say does give a rush. So many ideas that need to be cultivated and simplified down for the project.
If I could give my 18 year old self and advice it would be to start my practice sooner and not wait. Jump in at the deep end.
KEEP UP WITH DAVID: