Locals + Culture

A Passage to India…Hicks

9/24/2015 | Lisa Elin Craighead
Darryl Dobson

To say India Hicks' Bahamian/English countryside lifestyle is one that many desire with every ounce of their design- and lifestyle-obsessed hearts--and that we at CHC celebrate all things beautifully designed--is akin to whispering that Jocelyn Wildenstein has had some work done. No need to whisper. We all know.

Effortless. Stunning. Deceptively difficult to attain.

“India Hicks.” It conjures up the tan, sun-glazed memory of someone I know… rather well? The thought is instantly accompanied by salty, warm, Bahamian trade winds, crystalline azure waters, and one of the most elite, impeccably curated and tousled design sensibilities in modern history. Her beautiful, aquiline features have been gazing out us from high-end Bravo TV Design shows, and more eruditely, the covers of her three NY Times bestselling books, for years. Each page festooned with her airy melange of curated treasures. Effortless. Stunning. Deceptively difficult to attain. Creating warmth with both inherited and modern pieces is a delicate balance: keep it from being busy and cluttered, but engage the elements of inherited items to tell your own story in an intriguing, soothing and tactile fashion. This is India's forte. And, in a stroke of salty luck, those winds blew her straight through Utah. This rapidly-expanding city constantly surprises me with its ability to lure groundbreaking creatives. With the advent of the downtown renaissance and an explosion of tech, creatives are flocking here from all over the country, buying homes, revamping, and decorating (and their projects are getting national and international press). SLC has evolved into one of most prominent design frontiers in the nation. The influx of people from the coasts and abroad have upped the ante and galvanized the design scene, and the result is exquisite.

To India, accessibility, ease, and beauty are paramount.

One of said transplants is the infamous Dooce (dooce.com...the power is real), AKA Heather Armstrong. Arguably the most powerful "mommy blogger" on planet earth, Heather has taken up permanent residence in one of our favorite neighborhoods, Federal Heights. India Hicks has been following Heather’s tartly-truthful blog for years. She wanted to see what Heather--and Utah--were all about, so she popped over from her Harbour Island home in the Bahamas to share her new lifestyle and design line with one of the most design-inclined demographics in the country. The island and British countryside elements of her designs are often aped, which makes sense; it’s the ultimate inspiration in relaxed, insanely-chic home life. India mixes her aristocratic background with family heirlooms, swirls of color, seashells, and luxe combinations of fabrics and craftsmanship. That trickily-simple aesthetic isn’t so easy for everyone to pull off, but her new lifestyle line--to be sold "in the home" by entrepreneurial folk--is changing that. To India, accessibility, ease, and beauty are paramount. She’s elevating the medium and allowing us to obtain some of her regal, island privilege (without draining the royal coffers). Which is why her new line is so on point in its attainability. One needn't be monarchical to enjoy India's take on scents, leather clutches, scarves, jewelry and totes. Elements of the islands and her British background produce perfect accessories of affordable pleasure.

India is a woman’s woman. Down to earth and relaxed.

I met India for a private party at Heather’s home--an alcohol-lubricated evening filled with recounts of royal stories, a drool-worthy (to say the least) video depicting her flawless Harbour Island and English lives, and the chance to chat with some extraordinary women. It's not everyday that one gets to sit-down with the offspring of design deity David Hicks, and ask her opinion on Utah, design, and why she prefers "potkicks" to purebreds. India is a woman’s woman. Down to earth and relaxed. I sat her down on a dove-colored, velvet sofa, and plied her with one of Heather's stingingly-strong sangrias to partake in a brief Q&A. (No plying was necessary. India doesn’t need drinks to tell us what she thinks.)

Admit it: that was the easiest ride from any airport you’ve ever had in your life. It’s interesting you say that. Certainly easier than at home where I have to take a plane, a car, and golf cart

You have a very defined style…but if you could choose another style of home, what would it be and why? If I could…I would love to try living in a minimalist way. I’ve just written book with an entire chapter titled, “Stuff,” But I’m someone who loves to layer, and layer, and layer. So if I could I love the idea of living minimally.

Iris Apfel had an interview in the NY Times. She said something along the lines of, “I think it's kind of pitiful, these people that live in these minimal homes. You should live amongst your belongings that have this deep sense of history and give you joy.” My husband complains about our stuff, but I relish living in our own personal museum that's been curated throughout the years. Your thoughts? I saw it. I LOVED it and she’s the perfect example of living well amongst your possessions and using them as true design elements. It’s crucial to maintain some creativity and create history.

What cities and designers are you watching now and find provocative? There are so many. Incredible architects like Thierry Despont. He does amazing, major, beautiful architecture that is befitting to the environment, yet he’s able to twist it and make it modern...but he does it in a way that’s very sympathetic. I think it’s extraordinary. Another is Kelly Wearstler. Kelly is interesting in that she is inspired by other people. For example, she was inspired by my father, but she's very individual in her taste, and I love that she’s a hard working girl that’s making it work for her.

Do you think it’s possible to mix island style with mid-century modern? Mid-mod is very popular here. How would you do it? You can have island style in any way. There are simple hints you can bring in. I’m always inclined to bring in oversize vase filled with palm fronds that works in any style, modern, mid-century, dark wood-stained floors have a very island vibe, upholstered furniture keeping it very clean. My island colors are the dark wood, the green, and the white. I think that brings real sense of the tropics.

Is the dark wood because of the colonialism? I think most people think light wood, is more “island.” But the dark wood is more Bahamian, no? Yes, absolutely. It wears surprisingly well. The dark is nice offset for lots of white. It is clean and rich at the same time.

Launching this brand is empowering women in the home and elevating the status of what in-home shopping parties can be (it's huge in Utah). What exactly brought you here? I can't imagine you’ll be showing up at any ol’ party in Sioux Falls. I’d love to turn up any ol’ party anywhere.

We have that on camera. I’ll keep it in mind for my upcoming Channukah party this winter. There are amazing things to it. I like interacting with the women and understanding the state and who that woman is that is appreciating my product. I like meeting her. I love to travel and Utah is somewhere I’ve been wanting to truly come and had never been. Look at this landscape. You have a desert it’s like, so exotic, you’ve got mountains, you have Mormons. You have everything.

Who is the “India Hicks” woman? What qualities does she possess to make this a success? It’s very interesting to see how diverse our woman is. And I love that. It’s not niche. Women in NYC, Utah, Dallas, etc. are loving it. I don't care how she dresses, or her religion or how she brings up her children, it’s for a community of women that want to stand on their own two feet. Who want to do something for themselves. I’ve been lucky in my life to do so many things and try things, I want to encourage others. As women, we’ve come so far, but have so far to still go. I don't fancy myself a dramatic feminist,  I love the men in my life and we even have a male brand ambassador. I like the idea that style can cross gender lines.

Okay. Flash round:

Junkanoo or Gay Pride? OOOOOOH!!! OOOOH TOUGH ONE! But… Gay Pride. My first gay pride parade was in NYC. I went with one of my gay friends and said “Oh look! There's a bit of aubergine coming down the the street. It was a vagina.” So hey. I love a gay pride. But my kids, well they love Junkanoo. It’s in my heart.

Conch or bubbles and squeak? Oh. Very good one. Well…they’re SO different. Probably Bubbles and squeak. But oh Conch salad is so, so good.

NYC or SLC? I know I could never live in NYC again. I’m an outdoorsy person. I was at the Salt Lake Hilton downtown, and got to Federal heights in 10 minutes and it was a beautiful ride the whole way. That’s damn appealing.


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