Beyond The Beach – Interview With India Hicks


Model, author, interior designer and goddaughter to Prince Charles, India Hicks deserves her Renaissance homemaker status, says Laura Henderson.

It has to be the ultimate antidote to the rat race: upping sticks to a tropical island paradise where the sun shines every day and the daily commute is a mere barefoot schlep from villa to beach. For India Hicks and husband David Flint Wood, this dream became reality when, after high-profile careers-she as a fashion model, he as an advertising executive-the couple traded in the crowds and commercialism of  London for the pink sands and balmy climes of the Bahamas. Multiple years and four children later, the couple are happy to call the island archipelago home, with not one, but four, stunning property makeovers to their name including a vintage boutique hotel.

Born in London to celebrated interior designer David Hicks and Lady Pamela Hicks, the wanderlust bug was a marked trait in India from an early age. A British royal — the second cousin and goddaughter of Prince Charles — she grew up in the UK but was never happier than when spending time at the family estate in Ireland and at the Bahamian holiday home her father built for the family. After a backpacking adventure travelling the globe, she moved to New York to pursue a modelling career for labels from Gap to Ralph Lauren. Today, the whimsical Hicks, has made a trademark out of ‘island-inspired’ living with everything from seductive kaftan designs (a Kardashian favourite) to ‘castaway-colonial’ home accessories: a creative occupation that clearly envelops her whole way of life.

Home for the husband-and-wife-team these days is on historic Harbour Island off the north coast of Eleuthera in a stunning 1950s five-bedroom beach house, which the couple bought in 1997, and have since spent time ‘tweaking’ to their satisfaction adding verandas, wooden flooring and balustrades to give it a Plantation-style feel. A bright, light-filled space just steps away from the ocean the house has a right-sizing, clean-living style offset by Caribbean flourishes.


Travel has clearly influenced Hicks’s approach to décor with her commercial property ventures too. Fusing traditional European design with Asian, African, and Caribbean influences, the resulting interiors in The Landing (www.harbourislandlanding.com) (the boutique hotel she founded on the island) reflect her love of muted colour accents and minimalist styling. A gracious, historic property dating back to 1800, this 12-room mansion overlooks the harbour in the heart of Dunmore Town, an easy five minute stroll to the powder fine, pink sand beach where guests can zone out for the day in rattan beach chairs. Bedrooms, sport waxed dark oak floors and are offset by fresh white walls and white wooden shutters which, along with the sea grass mats, old ceiling fans and bowls of mixed fresh flowers (hibiscus, oleander, and bougainvillea) lend a tropical feel. Pieces of art adorn the walls among them antique English botanical water-coloured prints, ornate gilded gold-framed mirrors and old hand-coloured bird prints. Stained mahogany four poster beds meanwhile, are covered in heavy white cotton bedspreads and draped with white Indian cotton - all by Ralph Lauren.

A self-confessed workaholic, Hicks seems comfortable juggling numerous projects with the demands of motherhood. In the heart of the Bay Side straw market on the island’s scenic harbour front, she and Bahamian partner Linda Griffin run the Sugar Mill Trading Company. Housed in a beautiful 18th century building with its own walled garden, this little treasure chest of a shop offers a carefully curated collection of women's and men's fashion, housewares, jewellery and gifts for all ages. When she isn’t hands on at the store, she oversees the rentals of her guesthouses (www.hibiscushillharbourisland.com), which are mainly for friends and family.

Global projects haven’t been left off the agenda either. One of her most rewarding recent roles has been working as a brand spokesperson for Crabtree and Evelyn. The author of two books: Island Life - an interiors book on the houses she developed– and Island Beauty focusing on beauty and well-being, when asked by the company to create her own line it “seemed like a natural flow from there.” Show Less Travelling recently to Egypt and Brazil, she saw the introduction of Island Night, her second fragrance collection for the company. “The products have my fingerprints all over them,” she enthuses, “from the package design to the pure formulations. The packaging is reminiscent of our house and guest houses - all wood, paper and straw and very neutral tones with a sudden flash of colour. And the product involves flowers and plants indigenous to the Caribbean.”

As to future endeavours, her latest creative foray is into jewellery design - the India Hicks collection, which she explains draws inspiration from her father's aesthetic with three distinctive collections - The Hicks on Hicks based on her father's famous hexagonal patterns: bold and architectural, with thick cuff bracelets, chunky rings and medallions. The Initials collection inspired by his love of monograms, features 18-karat gold, silver and diamond charms with interlocking letters, while The Island Life collection is her “most personal, beach-inspired” with matte sterling silver shell pendants and earrings with dangling silver “fishtails.” “It always works to focus your energy on the things you’re good at,” she adds. “My energy goes into the form, the way something looks and feels and the way it is represented. It’s an inspiring way to live.”


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