The Art of Distinction

The Art of Distinction


Allegra Hicks’ awe-inspiring designs and innovative fusing of fabrics, patterns and prints have earned her a reputation as a world-renowned designer. Julia Millen spoke to her to find out what it takes to stay style smart

What got you interested in design and interiors?

I studied painting at school and design at the Politecnico di Design in Milan. I toyed with the idea of carving out a career in the art-world, but it terrified me. In the end, working in design came more naturally. I grew up in a design-orientated family - mostly contemporary design – from Albini to Polti. As a result, a vocabulary of style has evolved with me – from painting to furniture, textiles to rug design.

How has your style evolved over the years?

As you begin to make your mark, the designs you create are recognised as yours. Your signature style becomes your vocabulary. The most important aspect for me is to create my own story. From there, as the ‘words’ flow, you create that all-consuming style narrative.

What are your biggest influences?

In the multi-sensory world we live in, to pin point what influences us isn’t an easy task. I’m certainly influenced by history, art and decorative art and I adore certain painters such as Gio Ponte.

I’ve recently been to the Tim Walker contemporary photography show which was incredibly inspiring, as is the Capidomonte Museum in Naples brimming with 18th century Neopolitan decorative art. Influences are very much about the interpretation of a given moment.

Who is your design hero?

Gio Ponte.

What colours, textures and patterns are you currently obsessed with?

I adore dusky pink and chartreuse yellow and I love combining different textures – from plush velvets to delicate silks and crisp linens.

What’s your favourite building?

I love the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and Menoir in Chicago. The Beinecke Library at Yale University, designed by Gordon Bunshaft is an incredibly plain building from the outside (the front of the building incorporates about 75 squares of alabaster.) However, when you go inside, the light is quite extraordinary and the space is filled with beautiful rare books and old manuscripts that take your breath away.

The juxtaposition of old and new is magical – it’s my new obsession.

What makes a home?

Everything to do with the psychology of the owner. I’ve lived abroad all of my life [in England], but I’m Italian and I have a strong Italian sense of belonging. Whenever I stay in a hotel, I visualise it as my home. In terms of aesthetics and a physical sense – it’s how a given space is utilised. A house that has a beautiful library or kitchen where everyone gathers, makes it a home because everyone wants to be there.

What’s your dream home? 

A beautiful house by the sea. I adore my property in London and I love my villa in Naples, but neither of these homes has a view, so somewhere with an incredible vista would be just perfect.

How do you relax?

When life gets stressful, I love going for walks. It clears my mind and grounds me.

What’s the best global getaway for design inspiration?

Whatever you ‘need’ at that particular time. There’s no failsafe answer. I was incredibly inspired on a trip to India I took two years ago with my sister and we discovered Hampi, a beautiful place, with a unique energy. I’m always inspired by exhibitions and nature provides continual food for the soul.

What iconic product do you wish you’d designed?

I would say the I-pod. It’s so far removed from what I do. I’m not technological at all. I’m fascinated by the idea of combining incredibly good design and revolutionary technology. As a power pairing there are infinite possibilities.


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