In 2019 Skene House celebrates its 40th anniversary, and we’re also celebrating 40 years of style. We’ve always done things differently and, when we started out, engaging the most exciting and cutting-edge designers of their time seemed the natural choice.
At Skene House we were offering the UK’s first one, two and three bedroom serviced suites and apartments (complete with their own living room and fully furnished kitchen) available on a nightly rate. This was unheard of and, at the time, a radical departure from the traditional hotel room offering. Charles Skene, our founder, wished to provide quality, modern accommodation to the hundreds of families moving to Aberdeen for employment in the oil industry. And he wanted one man to set the tone of Skene House’s interior design – David Hicks.
Hicks is a legend. His work was described by the New York Times as ‘the acme of jet-set chic’. He was the ‘most famous decorator of his day’ hired by the Royal family, Helena Rubinstein and Vidal Sassoon, to name a few. In the late 1970s Charles Skene flew down to London to meet the man in person.
“David Hicks was the most famous decorator in Britain, and I had three large properties on Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen that required to be transformed,’ says Mr Skene. ‘I visited Hicks’ offices in Jermyn Street, London where he had the most stunning showroom imaginable. It was hugely inspiring. At our meeting we discussed David working on Skene House’s interior design including creating bespoke pieces for the properties. We were launching top end accommodation in Aberdeen and I wanted the best.’
‘After we’d agreed the brief, the next step was for Hicks’ Chief Designer, Paul Hull, to fly up to Aberdeen and visit these properties that had barely changed since the 1880s. It wasn’t just a case of interior and furniture design, but in some cases, amalgamating apartments to create a more spacious suite. The space had to be just right before we even started decorating.”
Skene House not only offered an overnight stay, but much more. Creating a home from home, a smart space where guests could work, rest and play was the new concept. Hicks’ tailored, clean, modern look would ring the changes. His white furniture with sleek black edging furnished living rooms and bedrooms. It was en vogue at the time and, with its retro vibe, would be surprisingly on trend now.
“It was absolute change’, says Charles Skene. ‘Quality usually meant a traditional look, think Parker Knoll or Queen Anne furniture. With Hicks we could offer quality, style and fresh modernity. It reflected the game-changing new hotel suites that we were introducing to the UK.”
The finished Skene House suites, combining style with spacious accommodation, were a cut above the rest. Hicks passed away in 1998, but his work lives on. David’s son Ashley brought many of his father’s textiles back into production, and Skene House adorned several bedrooms in the famous ‘Poppies’ and ‘Chevron’ fabrics.
Since working with David Hicks, Skene House has continued to engage leading designers to create a range of different styles across their portfolio of properties. From floral delights to streamlined minimalism, there’s an apartment to suit most tastes. Look out for our future posts on the work of Monica Apponyi, Stephen Ryan, Lynne Hunt of Hunt Hamilton Zuch, Syliva Lawson Johnston, Michael Inchbold, Jimmy Thomson of Drysdale Edinburgh, Mary Fox Linton and and Skene House’s long relationship with Paul Hull.
Learn more about the designer suites at Skene House by visiting skene-house.co.uk. Skene House offers the Suite Life and stylish living, so for more information get in touch at +44 1224 659 392 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.