India Hicks was eager to wrap up the conversation, get out the door, and start exploring the city. The dreary weather was not deterring her enthusiasm. It was the first time she’d been back to Boston in 20 years. In a fit of almost-true love, she followed a boyfriend here during college, and ended up sticking around for three years.
After talking to a roomful of interior designers at the Boston Design Center, she was ready to see how her old stomping grounds had changed. Hicks, a former model who remains runway-ready at 44, is not only a descendant of British royalty, she’s a descendant of interior design royalty. Her father is the late David Hicks.
During the 1960s and 1970s, David Hicks’s jarring, color-clashing interiors and elaborate patterns were the rage among Britain's well-to-do. He built a home design empire out of high profile decorating projects — such as a yacht for King Fahd
India Hicks broke protocol at her BDC talk last week. She rarely talks about her father at public speaking events, but decided that she was in a venue that would appreciate the stories behind his meticulous and influential work.
“My brother [Ashley] does a talk on my father and the real mechanics behind my father’s thinking,” she said. “Mine is a little more humorous, like the time my father ran over the daffodils in our garden because they were the wrong shade of yellow.”
David Hicks was notorious for not only over-the-top roomscapes, but for his temper and unfiltered opinions.
“He designed everything around him, including my mother’s hair and a client’s nose,” India recalled. “This client came to him and said he wanted help with a room. My father told him that he needed help with his nose. Every single thing was about design.”
His love of brown walls came after throwing a glass of Coke at a wall during a heated conversation. He then painted the wall to match the cola stain.
For several years, India Hicks said she stood back from her father’s legacy because she felt that she had “always been someone’s daughter or someone’s granddaughter.” Instead, she has carved out her own very distinct niche. She modeled for Ralph Lauren and J.Crew, and then moved to Harbour Island in the Bahamas after meeting her partner David Flint Wood. The couple now have five children.
Hicks also has a hotel on Harbour Island, along with the boutique Sugar Mill Trading Company. She wrote a book, “Island Life,” which highlights the plantation house she designed with Wood called Hibiscus Hill, and even showed up briefly on Bravo as host of the second season of the interior design competition “Top Design.”
Her recent focus has been product and jewelry design. For the past seven years, she has designed home and body scents for Crabtree & Evelyn, including a line of body wash, soaps, and candles.
“As mundane as that sounds, there’s a lot of work that goes into it,” she said. “It’s important to me.”
Equally important is her jewelry design. Hicks began with a line called Island Life, which takes its inspiration from sea creatures.
“I very much wanted to start with a collection that represented the way that I lived,” she said. “But then the David Hicks voice in my head started saying ‘Look through the archives.’ The designs lend themselves so well to fine jewelry.”
That led her to the Hicks on Hicks collection, where she borrows from her father’s famous hexagon pattern to create pendants, cuffs, earrings, and rings. For her third and latest jewelry collection, she returned to her father for inspiration. While looking through his archives for the Hicks on Hicks collection, she came upon a piece of paper which contained designs he created for each letter of the alphabet.
‘I said, ‘We have to do something with this.’ That led to the third collection, Love Letters,” she said.
She’s been promoting and designing the jewelry (in addition to working on a line of home products for HSN), but lately she’s been a prominent commentator on American television for royal events. She’s more than qualified for the job. She is second cousin (and godchild) to Prince Charles, and served as a bridesmaid at the wedding of Charles and Diana.
Though she no longer lives in the UK, she keeps close ties, recently reporting on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee for CNN. She admits, however, that she prefers her quiet life in the Bahamas.
“Island life isn’t for everyone,” she says. “There are difficult times. We sit through three months of hurricane season every year. But I never miss an opportunity for a new adventure.”