Five Minutes With Fran Hickman
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Five Minutes With Fran Hickman
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It took some persistent email and phone-tagging to pin down Fran Hickman, the in-demand London-based interior designer who, according to W Magazine, is “staging a monumental takeover” of the city. No kidding. The white-hot talent, whose recent commissions include the Moda Operandi HQ in Knightsbridge, is currently juggling four prestigious projects across the city: a new Mayfair member’s club for the Paris-based Experimental Cocktail Club group, a Sloane Street store for fashion designer Emilia Wickstead, an office in the old Philips building in Victoria for a property developer, and a triplex in Clerkenwell for a tech entrepreneur — not forgetting the renovation of her own abode, a period property in Notting Hill. 

Daughter of John Hickman, a major British property developer whose Kingston Estates firm dates back to the 1920s, the super-stylish London native cut her teeth at Soho House Group and Colefax and Fowler before founding her own studio in 2014. And she’s not looked back. Esensualliving.com caught up with Hickman on her sources of inspiration and design vision. 

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ESENSUAL LIVING: How would you describe your aesthetic?

FRAN HICKMAN: It’s interesting because I kind of think about other things first; form slightly follows function in a way. For me it’s very important everything works, which is why I really like commercial projects. I wouldn’t say I have a signature look. I’ve always liked a juxtaposition, I like something quite tough next to something very soft… My work is quite clean but at the same time I worked for Colefax [and Fowler] when I was starting out - working on houses - and that was about creating layers, trying to create houses that look like people have lived in them for generations. That definitely has its place - I know a lot of people love being surrounded by ‘stuff’ - but, personally, I find clean spaces easier to think in and more restful. Weirdly I don’t love ‘stuff’, which is quite a strange thing for an interior designer. I’m not that materialistic, but I’m really particular about what I do.

EL: So how do you like to add character to a space?

FH: I’ve always loved the textiles side of things. Often it’s something that you come to quite late on, it depends on the project. Materials give a space character. It’s very similar to getting dressed: if you want to wear black leather you’re going to be saying one thing, as opposed to if you dress in white silk.

EL: Do you see your design aesthetic as being very British?

FH: Yes! I’m a London girl and London is so cosmopolitan now. I would say what I’m doing is pretty English, and my clients tend to be English.

 

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A bedroom designed by Fran Hickman for a residential project in London's Kensington Gardens.
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EL: Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

FH: My former boss, Tom Bartlett. He’s one of the few people I know who can do both sides of the business; he’s architecturally trained but is also very good at the decorative side of things. He’s also incredibly good fun and made learning and working such a pleasure. I really enjoyed my job.

EL: When it comes to designing residential properties, which room do you tend to most enjoy working on? Do you have a favourite?

FH: Not really. I suppose I like a living-dining room as there’s the feeling that people tend to spend the hours they most enjoy in that space.

EL: What do you have in mind for that space in your Notting Hill home, how’s the renovation coming on?

FH: I’m making slow progress [laughs], I bought somewhere that needed quite a lot of work. There’s a bit of Madeleine Castaing in there. There’s quite a lot of print, which I slightly surprised myself with. It’s quite traditional, with a lot of early 20th century pieces. It’s in stark contrast to my boyfriend’s place that I’m also working on, which is super modern. I like to be able to be in both spaces and have different experiences.

EL: Are you looking forward to any design events?

FH: The V&A always tends to put something amazing on in the autumn so I'll be keeping my eye on their programme. 

 EL: Do you find the Internet useful for sourcing inspiration?

FH: It’s very important, I spend a lot of time on it. I love Pinterest, and Instagram is very useful. Daily feeds is where I get a lot of my inspiration, I get sooo many of them. In terms of favourites, Remodelista is very user friendly. It’s quite minimalist but it’s always interesting to see what people are doing.

 

 

 
Five Minutes with Fran Hickman Five Minutes with Fran Hickman

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