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WOOL HOUSE Q&A – ASHLEY HICKS

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In celebration of the Wool House showcase, we caught up with the immensely talented author, furniture designer and interior designer Ashley Hicks to talk about all things wool –

Ashley Hicks answers our questions about Wool House below…
Pic taken from: www.ashleyhicks.com

· What excites you about participating in the Wool House showcase?

“Of course I love wool, and it has been great fun to put together a room using no other fabrics, but the thrill of doing something inside London’s finest public building is tremendous.  My scheme for the Study was inspired by an imaginary client, one of those classic English gents of the civil service who worked in these rooms for so many years.  Walls of sober, pin-checked grey flannel like their business suits, with sudden flashes of bright pinks and reds like their braces, socks and handkerchiefs, suggesting some hidden flamboyance.  He has left the room for a moment, leaving William Chambers’ drawings for Somerset House on his red lacquered desk. His Grayson Perry prints and trompe l’oeil Collectors Cabinet are topped by gilded flames to show a certain imagination, his ‘thing’ for obelisks to show a craving for the monumental…”

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Ashley was kind enough to provide a sketch of his upcoming Wool House showcase.

· What would be your dream project to work on?

”Honestly, this was pretty good! An imaginary client is not going to object to anything and needs no persuasion – and Somerset House! Plus our wonderful friends at all the suppliers have produced all these marvellous fabrics with immense speed and perfect quality.  Alternative Flooring especially came through with my new Chainmail design carpet woven in record time.  I got to do what I really love which is to make bits myself, like the carved & gilded mirror (gilded by my assistant John Weiland but carved – badly! – by me), the pop–coloured sculptures and painted screens.”

· What properties of wool do you find most valuable in your work?

“As a child I’d go say Good Morning to my father as he lay in his bath, dramatically placed in the centre of his atmospheric, cosy bathroom stuffed with Victoriana.  The floor was covered in his own first geometric carpet, woven the year I was born.  All wool, of course: Brussels weave, as fitted in smart English rooms since 1760.  I still use the same Yorkshire mill for custom projects. Wool is warm, hard-wearing, comfortable – we all know that. As in my Study, you can print on different wools and get depth and texture unlike anything else.  For my old London home I made a sofa covered in short-clipped sheepskin which was the most comfortable thing I’ve ever known, warm in winter, cool in summer and unbelievably soft.  I’d just sit there, stroking it.”

If you want to learn more about Ashley Hicks, where better to start than his website, which can be found here?

Head down to join us at Somerset House and see the Study yourself.  Entry to Wool House is free and each day is brimming with activities and events to celebrate this incredible textile.  View the Events Calendar here and come along!

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