Living with taste in a world of destruction sounds utterly frivolous, but everyone who buys even the smallest piece of furniture does so by choosing between alternatives. The choice is governed by their taste.
David Hicks was an interior design star of the 60s who decorated rooms for the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne, a yacht for King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, and a nightclub on the QE2 ocean liner among others. In his eponymous practical design book On Living - With Taste (1968), he wanted to show readers how to use bold colour combinations, patterned carpets, light rooms, and mix bold antiques and modern furniture. Alongside photos of the redesigned rooms of the jet-set chic, the opinionated Hicks describes his interventions. He set some loose rules around eye-popping colour schemes and decorative tips, which, when applied, apparently cannot fail.
Hicks was not definite about good or bad taste but attempted to show one way of living with one sort of taste. He explained: “I am convinced that taste, whether it is good or bad, personal or impersonal, is formed by looking at things from the point of view of ownership - would you want this? Would we like that? We condition and change our taste by looking at examples of other people’s way of living in magazines, newspapers, exhibitions, and museums.”
This exhibition explores his legacy, how living with taste affects us in every detail of life, and how architectural spaces are manipulated. Looking back at the context in which Hicks operated and how the taste was reserved for specialists that were part of a certain circle, it questions how taste is defined and who defines it. Hicks blended art on colour-coordinated walls so that it was looked at through the lens of decoration. In contrast, this exhibition wants to examine spatial relationships and put works in front of a taste of a specific time.