On the heels of the release of her new book, A Slice of England, designer, lifestyle trendsetter and entrepreneur India Hicks has a full plate of meetings and appearances. We were lucky enough to catch her between engagements, and even luckier that she agreed to answer some of our burning questions. When she isn’t running her business, writing or spending time with her partner, David, and five children, she’s effortlessly pulling together relaxed spaces that are traditional yet eclectic – in a way only she can.
And if there’s anything better than burying yourself in her new tome, it’s hearing straight from the multi-talented designer. So before she took the stage at our flagship store in Atlanta for a Facebook Live with India Hicks, we sat down to ask her about the design of her new home.
You designed America Farm from the ground up – what are your tips for starting such a vast project?
Well, first you need to clear bee and bird breeding season and make certain no bats are about. Then, decide on what you want from a house. For us, this was something traditional and very, very symmetrical.
“Gardens are organic spaces, which mature and ripen once you have laid them out.”
What is your favorite outdoor space at America Farm?
We wanted a small garden alongside large fields, and we use every bit of both. The table on our terrace is a favorite family dinner spot and excellent place for gardening. When larger groups are about, we’ve set up parties in the barn, the garden and under a small tent called, exotically, a Chinese hat.
Your spaces seem to be very refined and traditional yet relaxed and modern – any advice for homeowners trying to keep that balance?
Though I grew up with vibrating palettes in every room, we tend to go with fairly neutral backgrounds with one bold punch of color, such as orange suede and Louis XVI chairs. And have a bit of fun with things, whether you fill the crystal decanters with brightly colored bubble bath or put your mother’s swimming caps on display like a Pop Art topiary.
In the book you show amazing outdoor gardens at America Farm and Broadlands. What do you use your outdoor spaces for most often?
A little bit of everything: runs through the fields, riding horses, skateboarding, cutting big bunches of flowers to arrange for the house and table, tea time, family dinners and lunches to celebrate everything from my nephew’s christening to the launch of my book.
In your opinion, what are key characteristics of a fabulous English garden space?
We are slaves to symmetry, and that applies to the garden as well. And something unexpected never hurts. One of the ten “rooms” of my father’s garden at the Grove is a secret rose garden with a Lutyens seat. In the summer you cannot be seen when sitting there, but if I close my eyes I can capture the smell of warm English rain, freshly mown grass, and rose and peony petals. I created a fragrance based on this rose garden.
How does designing an outdoor space differ from designing an interior space?
Well, gardens are organic spaces, which mature and ripen once you have laid them out. When done well, they are more interesting than rooms, which tend not to age quite as well.
GET TO KNOW INDIA
My favorite room in (or out of) the house is …
My study with its Ultrasuede-covered antique French chairs and an equally orange print from the Gerald Laing 1968 Pop Art series Baby, Baby Wild Things is a contender.
The next design project I’m working on in my house is …
We made it through building a home from scratch, and the biggest argument was over one small bathroom door handle. As David says, the first night all seven of us spent in the house, it felt like home. Aside from rearranging some artwork, we’re good for a while.
I’d rather host a party because …
I always enjoy our parties. I mix up the location and the guests as much as I mix up the decorations. And David mixes up the drinks.
My go-to conversation starter is …
Everyone has a story, and they usually like to tell it. I’ll just say, “I want to hear about you.” And if they’ve had enough wine, they’ll tell all.
My signature emoji is …
I don’t use emojis very often, but that flamenco dancing lady seems to be having an awful lot of fun.
AN EVENING WITH INDIA HICKS
A line formed around the block last week as design lovers flocked to our flagship store in Atlanta to witness India discuss her new book, A Slice of England. In the hours leading up to the event, her fans shared friendly conversation, debating their favorite of India’s trademark styles: Some preferred her traditional English look, while others coveted her breezy Bahamian style. Once the doors opened, spots were staked out and again, her fans fell into two camps: those who claimed a spot close to the book signing table for a guaranteed India signature versus those who positioned themselves to capture the best Instagram shots.
After a personal presentation from India (which you can view here), she took questions from the audience. Hopeful interior designers got down to business, asking the design maven serious questions about her style choices and professional path, while more romantic fans wanted details about her royal lineage. As the night came to a close, pleased fans clutched their signed books and showed off their “India selfies” to one another. And in an exemplary act of design royalty, India gracefully grabbed her pocketbook and hopped into a waiting car, summing up the night with a cheerful “That was fun!”