Studio Visit

David Hicks

David Hicks’ reputation precedes him. Renowned for his distinctly bold, high-gloss, high-end interiors, David’s name has become synonymous with modern Australian luxury.

David launched his own design studio in Melbourne in 2000, and in the years that have passed since then he’s won countless accolades and design awards. This year, he added ‘author’ to that long list of achievements, with his first book, entitled Intimate – A Private World of Interiors, published by Thames and Hudson.

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
9th of June 2017

The house David Hicks grew up in had a formative effect on him. A 1970’s home, with large windows, expansive interiors and terrazzo flooring, this home instilled in David an early interest in architecture, interior design and decoration.

After studying at RMIT, David worked for some of Australia’s leading architecture and interior design firms before establishing his own design studio in 2000. In the years that have passed since then, David’s name has become synonymous with Australian high-end homes and buildings. His glossy, bling-d out interiors bring together a bold, unexpected edit of rich, tactile materials, collectible objects and artwork, alongside rare and covetable modern design pieces. Each David Hicks project takes LUXURY to new heights.

This year marks a new milestone for David, as he adds ‘author’ to his long list of achievements. His first book, entitled Intimate – A Private World of Interiors, published by Thames and Hudson, spans 40 of the most remarkable design projects completed over his 17 year career.

Tell us a little about your background, and how it’s influenced the interior architecture, design and decoration work you do today?

I was born in Australia but raised in Malaysia. I grew up in a single-level 1970s house with large windows and expansive interiors. Complete with terrazzo flooring and white glossy decorative screens dividing the open-plan modernist spaces, this house had a big impact on me. Although I might not have been able to put it into words as a young boy, even then I appreciated the importance of architecture, interior design and decoration, and the role each play in shaping our lives.

I graduated from RMIT with a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design (Honours), before going on to work with some of Australia’s leading design and architecture firms. From here, I established my own design studio in 2000, as a premier brand for luxury-oriented interior and building design.

How would you describe your work, and what influences your subject matter?

My passion for mixing materials, styles and cultures has led to a signature look that’s broadly defined as eclectic, yet also harmonious and refined.

References may not be obvious, and colours or patterns may sometimes seem surprising, but there’s an overriding narrative that ties it all together. Travel, fashion, cinema, architecture and design, both past and present, are a constant inspiration to me. However, one of the biggest and most significant influences in my work is modernism.

Do you recall what initially sparked your interest in architecture and interior design?

I have always been interested in architecture and design. As a young boy, I was spatially aware and able to clearly visualise things. I would tag along with my parents to real estate open houses, collect the brochures and floor plans, and redesign the interior layouts!

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

My day often starts with early morning site visits, followed by reading through and replying to emails. The remainder of the day is likely to consist of checking through project documentation, returning phone calls, putting together mood boards or selecting fabrics. I might also be having furniture priced, designing furniture, answering builders’ queries, talking to clients, meeting with suppliers, consultants and clients. Every day is somewhat different, that is why I love what I do!

Can you give us a little insight into your creative process?

Initially we start with reviewing the existing or new space that we will be working with. We look at the scope of what needs to be done and form a budget plan around this. We then think about spatial planning and how to better resolve the space for its intended use. At the same time we are considering  the design direction, materiality of the project and how the detailing will work. We call this process the schematic design phase, as we are shaping the project and starting to loosely define its direction.

Developing this concept further and refining it with the client, leads into documentation and further refining until we have a complete drawing package ready for pricing and  construction. This whole process is somewhat organised but also organic as every project and client is different.

You’ve undertaken work on residential, retail, hospitality and other commercial projects. Do you have a preference?

I love design and do not have a preference for a particular project type. Each come with their own challenges and this is what interests me. It is so rewarding as a designer to create something unique for each project.

I also believe in blurring the boundaries between the disciplines and bringing knowledge for retail design into residential projects, or vice versa. Although they have different end uses, knowledge of various materials, sectors and detailing is paramount and this can cross over.

Which other Australian designers, artists and creative people do you find inspiring?

Dale Frank – I love the artist’s use of color and juxtaposition of matte and gloss.
Clement Meadmore – This sculptor’s forms are exquisite, so simple and his use of metalwork is so strong and rigid in contrast to the organic forms he creates.
Harry Seidler and Guilford Bell – These architects are the godfathers of Australian modernism.

What are some resources that you turn to when you’re in a need of creative inspiration?

I love experiencing different cultures. Travelling is so rewarding, not only for ideas but also for personal growth. I would also have to say, Instagram – I am a visual person. I find a lot of inspiration from accounts across the world.

What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

Launching my first book, Intimate – A Private World of Interiors, with Thames and Hudson has certainly been a career highlight. It took two years and lots of blood, sweat and tears to produce, but seeing it and the 15 years of my work it showcases on book stands both in Australia and around the world is something I am very proud of.

What would be your dream creative project?

My dream project would be a hotel. We do a select amount of multi-residential projects of a high-end nature and feel that our expertise in this would translate well into a hotel project.

With us on board as the interior designers, the dream would be to partner with architect Peter Marino – his work is phenomenal [we agree, click that hyperlink!] and I am sure we would produce something truly unique and breathtaking.

What are you most looking forward to in the near future?

I am currently in the process of selling my apartment and am eager to take on a project that’s just for myself, though I may be my toughest client yet! It’s all very exciting, because at this stage I’m undecided as to whether I’ll opt for another apartment or choose a house instead.


Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood?

South Yarra – where I live. It’s the best location. It’s surrounded by parks, close to the city and other great areas in Melbourne such as Prahran, St. Kilda and Albert Park. Not to mention all the incredible places to eat, drink and be entertained – South Yarra has it all.

Where was the best meal you recently had in Melbourne?

I am a little old school and can’t go past France Soir in South Yarra. I always have a great meal there. I love that the menu has not changed in forever and they have an amazing wine list.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

In the gym, then the kitchen preparing a big breakfast to reward myself.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

I am not sure if it is a secret, but many people do not know about a furniture store called Nicholas and Alistair. They source some of the most magnificent vintage Italian furniture and lighting that you will find in the world. Their Collingwood showroom is filled with the most marvellous and rare objects.

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