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India Hicks Interview Luxury Property Magazine Abode2 1

Elemental Aspirations

02.04.24

Award-winning interior designer, author, brand collaborator and business entrepreneur India Hicks, shares her mantra for success and why embracing life’s rich tapestry of chapters is all important. Interview by Julia Millen.

India Hicks Interview Luxury Property Magazine Abode2 1

What does the word ‘home’ mean to you? 

Trying to find a little peace after a family crisis back in DATE, I retreated to the house my parents built in the Bahamas. After several days alone, I found my way to neighbouring Harbour Island. 

I had been reminded that an old friend was now living in this remote spot. As the island is only half a mile wide and three long, it didn’t take much detective work to find David (now my husband). Shoeless and suntanned, he was running a small hotel with a copy of Joseph Conrad's ‘An Outcast of the Islands’ in one hand and a Bloody Mary in the other.  

We bought Hibiscus Hill virtually unseen. I peered through the windows and David toured the gardens. We both agreed it felt like home. Hibiscus Hill provided us with the blank canvas upon which we could paint our own story. 

What are your special childhood memories of living there? 

I spent every Easter holiday when growing up, on Harbour’s neighbouring island - Windemere, where we delighted in a rather Robinson Crusoe existence, no internet, no television, not a lot of reliable electricity, or running water, but endless cousins to be entertained by and long games racing crabs down deserted beaches. Learning to waterski almost before we could walk, in the quiet lagoon shared with sleepy manta rays and the occasional shark, was blissful. 

India Hicks Interview Luxury Property Magazine Abode2 1

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Bahamas gaining governmental independence from the UK. Did you join in any celebrations on the island? 

I was so disappointed not to be there for such a milestone anniversary, but we did enjoy watching the celebrations on TV, especially the many beautiful Bahamian flags being hoisted on flag poles all across the island. 

You recently married your long-time partner, David Flint Wood after spending 26 years together – what brought about this change of heart? 

After a bewildering 18 months of COVID, I felt a longing for something reassuring, something anchoring, not only for me, but for my kids, who like everyone else, had been shaken by the pandemic. “Let's get married,” I suggested to David one evening. David had actually asked me to marry him 25 years ago, when I discovered I was pregnant with our son Felix, but being in my fiercely independent woman phase I never accepted, although I strongly felt that Felix and our children who would follow, should carry his name, except of course Wesley, our adopted son, who arrived in our lives already named.  

Was it a traditional ceremony?  

The service had all the English wedding trimmings, complete with choir and an organist to lead us through a series of uplifting hymns. A lasting memory was noticing my fingers entwined in David's and on one a new simple gold and diamond wedding band, which we had chosen together in Paris a few months earlier on the inside of which David had secretly organised an engraving with the words ‘amore vincit omnia’. Love conquers all. 

Has family influenced your decision to follow a career in interior design? 

Living under the shadow of a great designer father (David Hicks), it has taken courage to call myself a designer. But finally, I do. My father was completely confident with his use of colour and pattern. He had a fearless relationship with pink, scarlet and orange - he woke up the quiet drawing rooms of England, blew away the cobwebs and let the world know about it. He was a voracious explorer, discovering architectural wonders and surprises.  

Growing up, I remember him creating tablescapes of various items around our home. He claimed to have coined the term which we now all know, describes the arrangement of objects in decorative groups. His curated collections ranged from blue lapis lazuli enamel and pottery to pink Indian rose quartz carved animals and snuffboxes. Living where I do, I have limited access to such sensational objects, but I’m as determined to tablescape just as my father did.  

Almost anything and everything can make an interesting object. I might begin with one object of a certain colour and add others around it, such as a book bound in red linen, on top of which I will place a red glass vase beside a red piece of coral and so on. I have even used my mother's swimming caps displayed under a Perspex box almost like pop art topiary. All very alternative.  

India Hicks Interview Luxury Property Magazine Abode2 1

How would you sum up your mantra for success? 

I used to work with a tribe of smart, hardworking women who came together and created a community and a company called India Hicks Inc. and for six years, I travelled around America with this direct sales business, but the difficulties faced by a young brand proved to be too much to overcome, even with the creativity, loyalty and unwavering spirit of the women who were our ambassadors. So, we thoughtfully wound down the business, taking with us the gifts of life lived and true friendships made. 

Lessons learned in life, are key. In my case, I took some time out after the business closed and came back refreshed, focusing my energy on working with smaller more intimate brands, collaborating on collections of beautiful products from handmade leather goods, to printed tabletop linens, shoes made by artisans in Spain for the indomitable Penelope Chilvers. I’m also now delighted to be collaborating on a new bedding collection with Heirlooms.  

What does this year have in store for you? 

I’m thrilled to bits to be involved with the branding, building and launching of a new luxury patisserie in London which will open later this year. A labour of love for all involved. I’m also heavily involved with two philanthropic endeavours as a patron for The Prince’s Trust and sitting on the executive board for Global Empowerment Mission and with whom, I have been to Ukraine many times since the invasion.  Although these foundations often highlight the despair of so many, they also bring stories of hope.  

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