Decor and Design / Feature

Allegra Hicks: the eye that travels

Fashion legend Diana Vreeland once said that ‘the eye must travel’. Allegra Hicks’ gorgeous London studio is a testament to this edict. On a wintry afternoon in Chelsea, her signature fabrics swathe the sitting room of an impeccably stylish four-story terrace. Gently lit by dancing flames in the grate, the room speaks of her Italian heritage and her international travels, as well as the quintessentially English locale of her studio. Although Allegra has a home base in Naples, she spends a great deal of time in London for work and it has been the cradle of her international business.

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The room is a swirl of softly complementing colours that bleed seamlessly into each other, creating an ambience of serenity and warmth. It is the kind of room that makes one realise that interior decoration and design is about so much more than dressing and frills. It can create a space that provides succour at the end of a long day – it can be a restorative and a balm to the soul. Her skill at doing this is one of the reasons Allegra Hicks has come to prominence through her eponymous international luxury lifestyle brand. She is particularly renowned for her stunning textiles and prints, which adorn homes all over the world.

Unwinding over a cup of post-Christmas detox tea, Allegra tells me that she inherited a passion for design from her creative family. Growing up in Turin, she says she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t fascinated by design and style. As a student she was always deconstructing and restructuring clothes and furnishings. After studying fine art in Brussels and working in a gallery in New York, Allegra relocated to London to open a clothes shop on Chelsea Green which became de rigueur for admirers of her luxurious bohemian style.

 However, she is perhaps now best known for her fabric and rug collections. Design collaborations include a range of rugs for The Rug Company and interiors products for West Elm in the US.

Another recent derivation has been into the world of furniture. She designed the ‘Lulu’ capsule collection for the online furniture retailer Made.com and most recently dived into the resort market by designing the funky brass shop furniture for hot hotel Le Sirenuse in Positano.

Fashion-wise, Allegra now only does bespoke pieces – for example, a beautiful coat for a friend in three different designs inspired by vertebrae and lizard skin – as she has somewhat lost her appetite for mass-produced consumer pieces.

She also regularly consults with interior designers on bespoke rugs for projects, which she will create to suit the specified theme and mood of a room.

When asked the age-old question of where she draws her inspiration from, Allegra says that it is all in the way one looks at the quotidian: “When you really look at something…I mean, really LOOK…. it becomes yours”. It is through this process of ownership that one can then begin the process of interpretation and design. Look closely at an Allegra Hicks’ design and you can see the traces of a water lily, or the deconstructed russet feathers of a chicken.

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She travelled extensively in 2015, including to Melbourne in the role of keynote speaker at Australia’s No.1 Interiors Event, Decor + Design. During her on-stage conversation with Lisa Green (Editor-in-Chief of Australian House & Garden) she commented that the first thing that struck her about Australia was the light, which ‘is like the volume is turned up’. She also felt that Australians had a straightforward approach to life and design that was refreshingly New World.

Of course, as Vreeland said, the eye must travel. Allegra’s schedule has been so packed with business over the last few years that her upcoming trip to India is the first one she has taken for some time where she can switch off, take her Moleskine diary with her and simply ‘really look at things’.

Allegra Hicks’ designs are available via www.allegrahicks.com

Don’t miss the 2016 International Seminar Series at Decor + Design, which will once again take place at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from 21 – 24 July.

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