A Castaway Adventure
In her latest book, designer India Hicks paints an intimate yet epic portrait of an island, a house, and an extraordinary family
Escaping to the tropics is an all-too common fantasy: who doesn’t love the notion of swaying palms and a sun-kissed climate? If you’re India Hicks, however, that laid-back Hemingway idyll is a colorful reality. Over the course of two successful books, Island Life and Island Beauty, the designer chronicled her fascinating existence as a British expat in the Bahamas. This month, she releases her long-awaited third tome, the aptly titled India Hicks: Island Style (Rizzoli), whose lush pages map out the far-reaching influences of her evolving sensibility—from her aristocratic English upbringing and the boundary-pushing interiors of her famous father, David Hicks, to the nearly 20 years she has spent on Harbour Island with her partner, David Flint Wood, and their five children.
And the writing is as cinematic as it gets. “Our entryway is like the opening line of our autobiography, filled as it is with Georgian silver bowls that belonged to my great-grandfather, blue-and-white china, gifts from David’s relatives, and one of the black hibiscus candles I developed,” Hicks narrates. Rich, heirloom-fueled vignettes like these weave through the book’s chapters, which center not on decorating tips or room-by-room descriptions but on the way the couple’s aesthetic choices—both planned and haphazard—have made their home, Hibiscus Hill, uniquely their own.
“Shoestring decorating and the ‘repurposing’ gene, inherited from my father, have stood me in good stead for island life,” Hicks cheerfully admits. She shares anecdotes of repurposing an old duvet as an upholstered chair or of building a bar out of plywood and staining it dark mahogany. Found objects and sentimental treasures abound throughout the house—their only link being an absolute lack of monetary value. Seashells gather in bowls and on display cases, library shelves overflow with straw hats, and decades’ worth of delicately calligraphic envelopes line the pages of precious scrapbooks.
It’s easy to envy the life Hicks has created for herself. But it’s just as easy to wish she were a friend, her tone cheeky and self-deprecating in quintessentially British fashion. Fortunate though she may be, Hicks is also attuned to what really counts. “David and I suffer from compulsive collecting,” she writes, “but it’s these collections of stuff that remind me of the wonderful times, the rough patches, and all those bits in between.” —Sarah Jean Shelton