March 11 2011
I couldn’t have been more delighted with a recent gift of a long, vivid blue, wool/silk scarf (first picture) which has now been much admired – even by strangers – whenever I’ve worn it. The reason why it’s so eye-catching is that it features a clever design device – the repeat of a simple raindrop shape that tricks the eye into seeing a pattern rather than a series of single motifs. Deciding to track the scarf down to its origins, I visited Allegra Hicks’s shop in Belgravia to buy a similar scarf in cream/orange (£150) for a friend last week.
There I discovered that Hicks has a bit of a thing for the “drop” motif. It appears to be as much her personal talisman as a company logo. Not only does she use it decoratively on her wonderfully capacious four fing shoulder bags (third picture, £280), city bags (£260), weekend bags (£270) and travel bags (second picture, £295), but you can find it on cushions (£154), throws (£178) and rugs (from £600 per sq m). It’s even on the price tags.
Looking around the shop, it became clear that many of Hicks’s designs – such as the raindrop – are inspired by nature. Colour and texture are important, of course, but what I find particularly clever is the way she uses scale to turn a small, single motif into an abstract pattern. As she says in her recently-published book, An Eye for Design (Abrams, £24.99, available at the shop), “a repeat of a small leaf looks like a leaf but, on a very large scale, the same leaf becomes an abstract design.” It’s exactly this effect that has intrigued fans of my much-admired scarf.