Outside the long hours devoted to his Melbourne interior design practice, David Hicks has been spending a lot of time at home lately - "more and more, in fact", he says. The reason? He has just completed - if an interior designer's own project can ever be considered completed - his newly built apartment in Melbourne's inner-city.
What David bought was a spacious shell with only windows and external walls specified by the developer, allowing him full rein to bring together his collection of vintage and contemporary designer funiture classics, artwork and globally-sourced curios that he has amassed over 15 years.
He has firmly imprinted his design signature on the apartment, creating clean, expansive but delineated architectural spaces.
Facing north on one boundary and east on the other, the only adjustment David requested to the original design was for "the northern windows to be pulled in" to make a larger balcony space. He then filled in all the architectural details, creating a floorplan which includes an unusually long, integrated kitchen which extends to form a bar, with doors at each end providing access to the two balconies.
The kitchen/bar is open to the large living area where the placement of furniture creates separate zones: a formal dining area, and formal and informal sitting areas. Informal dining is taken care of on the partially screened wast-side balcony.
Entry to the apartment is via a wide, long entry hall into the formal sitting area, though "sightlines are concealed", David says. "There is a hint of the formal living area but then when guests come around the corner, the large volume of the space is a real surprise."
Two guest bedrooms occupy the centre of the apartment, along with two ensuites, a powder room and a laundry. Accessed by a single hall and door, this area can be sealed off, allowing the rest of the apartment to "become a bachelor pad, with one bedroom and a living area", David says. That one bedroom happens to be one of the sweetest, luxe and most interesting to be found - extensive in size, combining a sleeping zone, an office corner and a cream leather Eames lounge and ottoman for relaxing and meditating.
By the bed are two intriguing lights by Hollywood set-designer extraordinaire Tony Duquette, and behind the bed is a double-side 'box', fully sheathed in Macassar ebony, holding a walk-in robe and, on the other side, an expansive bathroom. The suite enjoys private views and abundant sunlight.
"The bedroom is my sanctuary, so I created a really large suite which was what I wanted. The bathroom is also quite extravagant in terms of the space allotted to it," says David.
The apartment's contents are a visual delight - curated by David's discerning eye. His extensive travels have yielded all sorts of treasures, including sculptures in petrified wood from Indonesia, architectural finials from Java, a 12th century 'head' sculpture from Cambodia's Angkor Wat, handcrafted textiles, vases made in the Japanese cloisonne tradition and lucite sculptures ... and chairs and more chairs.
"I just like chairs," says David. "They are singular elements which can be quite sculptural in a space, whether they are to be used for seating or not."
David's chair portfolio includes those by Warren Platner, Harry Bertoia, Mies van der Rohe and Arne Jacobsen, but his favourite is an original 'Grotto' chair.Designed in Italy in the 19th century, this style of chair derives from the intention "of making the furniture look as if it's been submerged under water in the ocean - the legs are carved oyster shells, the seat and back are a clamshell and the arms are dolphins".
The interior finishes of the apartment are classic David Hicks, a style honed over years of practice. Only a few materials, such as marble, stone, mirrors and exotic timbers are used, but they feature extensively, and combine finesse with impact.
As it is his own space, David says "it will never really be finished. I'm constantly finetuning. That's just what I do. It's like being a painter - you just keep painting other paintings."
Words by Jacinta Le Plastrier
Extracted from Belle Dec/Jan 2010/11