what’s in your toolbox: india hicks


The first time I discovered India Hicks, I was thumbing through the pages of Domino magazine. My eye fell upon a bookshelf of kraft paper-covered hardbacks with white labels revealing the titles. I found it utterly irresistible, even more so after hearing it was her homage to her legendary interior-designer father David Hicks’ iconic red leather-bound volumes. India’s talents range from designing interiors for hotels (that she also owns); creating beauty collections for Crabtree & Evelyn; authoring several books about island style; (formerly) hosting Bravo television show Top Design; and being a mother of four. My favorite fun fact, considering the most recent royal engagement: she was a bridesmaid in Lady Diana & Prince Charles’ wedding, as her mother was for the Queen and Prince Philip! I hope you enjoy reading more about this supremely intriguing and talented designer! -Ginny

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox? What are the tools you can’t live without?


India Hicks: Liquid paper. I am addicted. The “delete” button on the computer keyboard is not nearly as satisfying as liquid paper. School glue. I use a lot of this. I am a scrap booker — scrap books of press cuttings, scribbles, photos, Christmas cards, sketches, invitations, my children’s art. I have tried all sorts of glues: fancy French ones, simple sticks, dedicated photo sprays, glue guns, but nothing is as effective as school glue.

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank: “When I am in my studio, I feel the need to organize the chaos.”

3. Design*Sponge: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now? This can be anything from blogs, books, magazines, vintage catalogues/manuals, etc.


India Hicks: The World of Interiors monthly magazines. I never fail to find something that inspires me in each edition. My brother Ashley’s latest book on our father David Hicks. Not only has this been beautifully written and brilliantly art directed, but it references the best of our father’s work. The Best Of Flair by Fleur Cowles. Flair was one of the most talked-about and influential magazines ever created. It is remembered for its extraordinary design and production quality, its superb coverage of the arts and its intuitive discovery of artists and writers before they achieved fame and fortune.

CLICK HERE for the full interview after the jump!

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Time management is often one of the biggest obstacles for creative minds. Do you have an agenda book and do you make “to-do lists?”

5. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young, aspiring interior designer?

India Hicks: My father’s memorable saying, “Good taste and design are by no means dependent upon money.” For a young designer I would say, explore. Travel fuels ideas. Witness the trappings of another life; look for the tradition and beauty within it. Document each trip and all of the details, whether an upholstery fabric or a roof-tile pattern, a wooden fretwork balustrade or an old painted sign. These will one day inspire your work. My father’s famous tablescapes got much of their energy and interest from mixing poor and rich objects, and many of the poor had been collected by him on his travels. As a designer, you should always be looking, looking, looking.

6. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks? What tools do you use to keep your creativity flowing?

India Hicks: Nature. It’s all around me and never ceases to amaze. The lines on the trunk of a casuarina tree, the stripes on the back of a Sergeant Major fish, the spots on a stingray, the stars in the sky. Endless possibilities to help jolt one back on track.

7. Design*Sponge: In addition to having created a beauty line, modeled for high-fashion designers, hosted television shows, designed interiors and penned several books (Island Life: Inspirational Interiors, Island Beauty), what would you like to conquer next?


India Hicks: I also creatively direct a shop here on the island called The Sugar Mill. I am helping my mother with her memories, trying to keep the peace between four children, and now write a blog (www.indiahicks.com). Not much time for conquering anything else right now.

8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

India Hicks: On my travels. I hunt down local craftspeople, artists, designers, markets and eclectic shops.

9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsman, whose would it be?

India Hicks: Salvador Dali. I wonder if there was a lot of weed inside his toolbox? My mother has a painting by him of my grandmother. It’s very beautiful and very weird.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

India Hicks:
1. “Amazing Grace” — Because even if you do not believe in a God, the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible is as relevant today as it was in when these verses were written in 1773: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.”

2. “Dream Girl” by Dave Mathews. It’s slow and sexy. Dave is a mate; he invited me to watch him perform in the O2. I gave him a hug backstage, assumed he was off to change into his rock-star outfit, but no, he performed the entire show dressed in his tatty old cardigan and f****d-up boots.

3. Usher: OMG, “Honey got a booty like pow pow pow, honey got some boobies like wow oh wow” helped me run a marathon.

4. Gabriella Cilmi: On a Mission, about a woman, who is stronger than ever, and won’t give up without a fight . . .

And these songs, as my 13-year-old and I can actually agree upon them:

The XX: “Heart Skipped a Beat”
Train: “Hey Soul Sister”
Jason Derulo: “In My Head”

  1. yasmin says:

    what a great, personal interview. loved to learn so much about her.

  2. Kristy says:

    I love her handwriting!

  3. caseyr says:

    Hearing what musical inspirations are on India Hicks’ playlist made me laugh and even consider looking up Usher’s OMG. Great questions, answered with such simple sincerity. Thanks for sharing.
    -Casey

  4. Mara says:

    Could we please get some information on those lovely black scrapbooks? Thanks!

  5. I love this. People are interesting, and where they came/come from is one of the most beautiful parts of who they are.

  6. Such a great sneak peek inside the tool box of such an amazing lady. I agree, her playlist did make me chuckle a little bit.

    Thanks for another inspiring post, Ginny. It was great seeing you in the flesh at lavish. It gives me a whole other level of connection to your column. Keep up the great work!

  7. Amy Cox says:

    Imagine – Salvador Dali doing a picture of your grandmother. Incredible!

  8. miss kelly says:

    This was lovely and very personal….brava

  9. katsola says:

    I love that she has Pantone chips in her organizer/ notebook.

  10. ernø says:

    Nice to read it!

  11. Jamie says:

    This was a great post, love love love this blog!

  12. MS says:

    One of the most interesting things about India Hicks is that she is the granddaughter of Lord Mountbatten. Now, for Indians, that name will forever arouse a sense of nostalgia. Lord Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of Britain to India in 1947, and oversaw the end of British rule in India and the birth of a free nation. India was named after her grandfather’s last posting abroad.

  13. Cara-Mia says:

    I especially love having a peak at her planner.

  14. Ann says:

    OK. She’s perfect. Me? I will now resume my nap.

  15. kiki says:

    oh wow!!! india hicks! i’m a bit starstruck and awed at what a great peek this is into her creative process!

  16. BywaterBoo says:

    That was inspiring, thanks for a great read! Oh, and I love the comment about dali!!

  17. Shannon says:

    Lovely! Thank you. Also, are India and her brother named after the Wilkses in Gone With the Wind?

  18. Naomi says:

    absolute perfection. do you know where she gets that cute little planner?

  19. Chloe Neill says:

    Does anyone know a source for those black leather scrapbooks?

  20. These spaces also still seem so fresh to me. I love how much this interview brings out a personality that reads as very dynamic and down-to-earth. You asked all the questions I would be itching to ask (and some I would never have the nerve to). Her answers definitely made me smile. Looking forward to the next column!

  21. melis says:

    I always found her to be so intriguing and such an inspiration. Thanks for the wonderful interview.

  22. ckz says:

    fabulous peek. What a life. I, too, would love to know about that great little planner. 1 week on 1 side and a note page on the other side. Moleskine, maybe? The hunt begins.

  23. Very inspiring! I love her father’s interior design philosophy of mixing poor and rich objects! I am heading to Chicago tomorrow and I will be “looking, looking, looking.”

  24. gingerly says:

    “My father’s memorable saying, “Good taste and design are by no means dependent upon money.” For a young designer I would say, explore. Travel fuels ideas…” I love when the very privileged point out all the wonderful things that you don’t need money to enjoy! Like travel? Yes, I think I’ll just hop on a plane for to Samoa for some “inspiration”. What exactly is impressive about her? She keeps a scrapbook and a day planner and decorates the hotels that she owns. Fascinating! Please come back down to earth, DS.

  25. I like her.. and her father…

    “Good taste and design are by no means dependent upon money”

  26. amym says:

    Loved this interview!

    Gingerly- Traveling isn’t only for the rich. Take a day trip to a place you’ve never been and open your eyes. Fresh inspiration and a different perspective, free for the taking. I think that’s the message here.

  27. Amy says:

    I felt this was just one big smug name dropping session so I looked up India’s website only to be confronted with the overwhelmingly humble line, “I am a first class horse rider…”.

    I’m with Gingerly on this one.

  28. Caddy says:

    Lovely! I liked her responses. Also clicked on her blog and read it all the way through.

  29. Daphne says:

    Great questions! I loved the Usher quote.

  30. Madonna says:

    This woman,s taste is exquisite in every shape & form. Thankyou so much for your interruption of beauty. Just the stylish placement of a pure white shell on a dark worn wooden table.. that takes my breath away. Thankyou.

  31. Barbara says:

    I love the scrapbooks and found India’s music picks to be quite interesting and funny!

  32. Vanessa says:

    Any idea where one can find a scrapbook like the one she uses? I have been looking for one for a very long time!

  33. Nancy says:

    I also loved the scrapbooks and want to know what kind they are and where to find them. I also want to know how she keeps her pages so flat using the Elmer’s glue. I’m amazed at how neat and flat the books are using the glue. India please share your secret. Nancy

  34. I am curious as to what type of day planner it is that she uses and is photographed here. Any idea?

  35. Christina G says:

    Yes what is this planner?

  36. India Hicks never dissapoints. I have searched and cannot find a time where she is not authentic, honest, giving of her spirit and all around a real person. Thank you for sharing about her. It’s funny how after 4 years she really is “doing something new” with her product line & India Hicks style. GO girl!!

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