1. You grew up surrounded by a family of stylish women who inspired your eye for design – tell us more about that.
I grew up in two homes, both my mom’s and my dad’s, and was introduced to various art forms by strong, creative women at a very young age. My mom is incredibly artistic – constantly using her hands for painting, sculpting and creating ceramics and needlepoint. She has a keen eye for beautiful antiques and heirloom pieces and the gift of spatial arrangement. In many ways I think this informed my early design curiosity and how to create immersive environments with history and a distinct point of view.
My stepmother was the former West Coast director of Vogue magazine and her and my dad’s home in San Francisco was beautiful and exquisite in its detail – as if I were living and breathing in the pages of a magazine. The house was beautiful, bespoke and expertly tailored. I remember the indelible impression flipping through beautifully stacked September issues made and how my designs are often directly influenced in some measure by fashion. Early in my career, I designed a gentleman’s dressing room and based the story on an English dandy. The walls were upholstered in men’s flannel suiting fabric, the trims and crown painted a crisp, off-white like a freshly starched collar. And the cabinetry, a rich caramel walnut burl in faux bois – like a well-polished pair of Italian leather wing tips.
2. What inspired you to pursue a degree in environmental design and how has that education supported your work?
I spent a large part of my early childhood outdoors growing up in rural Colorado in a small town of maybe 200 people. It consisted of a post office, general store and taxidermy. I was out fishing every day before school and riding my motorcycle afterward exploring coal mines and the natural terrain. As I got older and began to explore other facets of the human experience through painting and sculpture, I realized my gravitation towards working with natural materials.
I moved to Brazil during and after college. It’s so wild down there with its amazing contradictory and complementary architecture. I discovered an entire Brazilian art movement pertaining to the natural world where the organic and the geometric sit side-by-side. I developed a thirst for architecture and interiors that embrace the perfect imperfectness of nature – the burl marks in wood and the unadulturated and unfabricated textures. I discovered Niemeyer and studied his work voraciously and was amazed to find such a juxtaposition between the untamed landscape of Brazil and his austere architecture. It made my mind race just thinking about it – where manmade form and function meets nature.
3. You founded your firm in 2000 – how has it evolved over the last 17 years, and what are some of the important lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I’ve learned a great deal from when I first began in 2000, and continue to do so. You could say Will Wick is in a constant state of evolution. If I’m not experimenting and taking risks, I’m stagnant. Clients have afforded me the synergistic opportunity to continuously explore my creative acumen while I provide them with a personified vision. Every project that I embark upon gives me deeper insight into the field and how to better conceive spaces that explore the interplay between past and present. Certainly I continue to learn how to best visually and verbally communicate with a client. Communication is the most valuable aspect of the design business. In terms of my own product design, I’ve gleaned valuable knowledge from incredible craftsmen and have built a strong community with these artisans over the past 17 years. The trial and error has lead me to design pieces that have improved greatly over time.
4. You and your wife Jen have four kids – what’s a typical weekend like for the Wicks?
It often involves a lot of time spent outdoors. The kids sleep in, as teenage kids often do. When they get up we usually pop down to our favorite brunch spot in Sausalito. If we can convince them (often through begging and bribery) we like to go out on a hike in the Headlands. Jen and I might peel away and go out on a friend’s boat, sailing or motoring. Sunday nights you can find us all in the kitchen – we usually have a big family dinner and then sink in and watch a movie together afterward. Depending on the season, we might sit by the fire and play speed Scrabble. Oh, and there’s always homework.
5. If you could design the set for any movie (or play), which would it be and why?
Well, it’s kind of hard to top the dreamy vacation set design for The Talented Mr. Ripley, my favorite film. There’s no room for improvement as it was completely transportive. But it would be amazing to design something in the vein of Great Expectations – to create a contemporary version of a wonderful period masterpiece.
6. Who is your designer crush and why?
My contemporary example would be Ron Mann. He’s such a cowboy and renegade of design. The man is an unabashed original who doesn’t emulate anyone. His perspective is all his own. Oscar Niemeyer was a force of Modernism. I’m also very inspired and influenced by Sergio Rodrigues’ work in furniture design. All these designers are/were 100% innovative.