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David Shaw Nicholls Design et Architecture

David Shaw Nicholls,
“small yin” center circa 1(one) year old, 1960

David Shaw Nicholls (dsn) was born in 1959 in a mining village named Bothwellhaugh. A Hamilton coal pit-head nicknamed “The Palace”, now under a man-made lake, hence Atlantis re-born “under Strathclyde Park”.

David Shaw Nicholls was born in Bothwellhaugh in 1959.
W. Watts, sculp.
Published by G.Kearsly. Fleet Street. Dec. 1st 1778 Property of David Shaw Nicholls.
Bothwell Castle, Lanarkshire. He grew up drawing and painting up the hill, his family having moved to Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland, escaping to Bothwell Castle, beyond the coal and steel works.

He now resides and works between New York, Scotland and Italy.


1972, David Shaw Nicholls attends Bellshill Academy Grammar School, Lanarkshire, where he is encouraged to follow his creative sense by his “art teacher”, the venerable Mr. Beattie. As such, he (Beattie) served as the road to survival.

2017, after 45 years, he is invited back to address the 400 or so, graduating students at Bellshill Academy and present “The world is your oyster and do what is in your heart; do not yield to peer pressure.” Jury is out on that…….

Glasgow School of Art,
Charles Rennie Mackintosh, architect.
Note: the School of Art is being partially re-built due to an accidental fire which engulfed the entire East wing. November 2016. At time of publishing this bio, news just in… A second blaze in 3 years destroys the entire building, June 2018

At 15 years of age, David Shaw Nicholls commenced evening painting classes at Glasgow School of Art in the class of William Crosby. This was a giant leap for DSN and his two years at the place of his dreams. “An intimate, yet vast labyrinth of beauty, a fine piece of living architecture. The painting studios diffuse with light.” DSN

Glasgow School of Art – “life class” studio, 1974. Drawing by David Shaw Nicholls. Pen and ink.

The Glasgow School of Art, David Shaw Nicholls attends life studies class and draws the students.

Edinburgh College of Art Studio, 1976, “working” drawing by David Shaw Nicholls.
Edinburgh College of Art, 1977, “The Design Matrix”, a stage set comparing natural beauty and man-made. Kate Blee. Acrylic on canvas.

Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland.
In the class of Sir. Robin Philipson, mainly looking to “Humanities” and asking why design? No furniture projects for now. Architecture beckons, but first – Begin afresh and get to work.

Edinburgh International Festival Official Show Catalogue.

“DESIGN”. Furniture design at Edinburgh College of Art. Left college after second term to form Asflexi Ltd and manufacture minimalist furniture he designed. Jake Harvey permitted the prototype to be welded in the ECA sculpture lab. Launched at Edinburgh Festival, Scotland in 1978. Invited by the Prescote Gallery, along with John Makepeace and the British Designer Craftsmen launched the inaugural furniture exhibition at The Edinburgh City Arts Centre. Subsequently the Fine Arts Society in Glasgow, curated by Roger Billcliffe.
A walk down the road to De Marco Gallery and Joseph Beuys was setting up his installation (just saw him with Domus Magazine in Milan with Pierre Restany, verifying the decoration of Domus Showroom on Via Mazzoni, Milano

“Asflexi on the road”.
Villa Panza Gardens and redesigns Leonardo Da Vinci studies as sketched by “dsn”. (Moonlight at Panza Palazzo, Varese).
David Shaw Nicholls sits with Arthur M. Sackler in Edinburgh 1978. We discussed “showing art “ and the challenges. He built also the Met ext.

Visits Count Panza Di Biumo, Varese, Italy to evaluate his collection of American Artists for possible re-positioning in Edinburgh. The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, designed by Richard Meier became the ultimate destination. Credit to Richard De Marco for his energy.

Willem de Kooning loft in New York, “His Brush in the Corner” (top) and “Main Room Landscaping, effort” (below).
“I swear I never watched the T.V.” “dsn”
Drawings by David Shaw Nicholls. Pen on paper, in the NYC sketch Pad.1981.

Exhibition at The Fine Arts Society, Glasgow, curated by Roger Billcliffe, “Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement”.
Re-connects with Ward Bennet, (Sunar, USA) at the opening reception and they head-off to Hill House, – “Toshi” Mackintosh Appreciation Society is formed in Glasgow. 1981

Asflexi 2-seater unit and matching low table. Fine Arts Society. Harry Bertoia (Diamond Chair), Elizabeth Frink (Seated Figure) and Elizabeth Blackadder (Painting), photographed by Nicholls.

New York City as he receives a design scholarship from The Royal Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, London. Visits NYC and America for the first time and is guest of Willem De Kooning. Time with Michael Graves, Ward Bennet, Philip Johnson and George Nelson, Larry Cadwallader of Knoll and George Beylerian of Steelcase. Falls for New York City. “love and hate it, every day.”

High Tech Showroom, Milan Furniture Exhibion. 1983.
Many young designers first show of furniture.

“Portal Cabinet”, by David Shaw Nicholls, Edinburgh Studio.

“One-on-one” with Ettore Sottsass Jnr. in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Boilerhouse Design Gallery. The London launch for Memphis and this encounter, a turning point for David Shaw Nicholls.

Issue “Letter to the young designer”, by Alessandro Mendini
Domus Magazine # 650

David Shaw Nicholls Master thesis published in Domus Magazine

In 1983-84 “David Shaw Nicholls” attends Domus Academy (the year of its inception) where he graduated under Ettore Sottsass Jnr in the course of Urban Architecture (Arredo Urbano). Active in “DA” workshops by Achillie Castiglione, Clino Castelli, Gianfranco Ferre, Rem Koolhaas, Rob Krier, Mario Bellini, Pierre Restany, Andrea Branzi and El- Wakil.

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