David Shaw Nicholls Biography

  • 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”, (Baillieston), Lanarkshire, Scotland.

  • David Shaw Nicholls was born in Bothwellhaugh, Scotland in 1959.

    The parents family were generations of coal miners. Father “David” was a mechanic and engineer, always and ultimately a gardener. His Mother “Isobel” was a devoted, loving mother, of five (5) children.

  • Original Etching of Bothwell Castle, P.Sands R.A. and W.Watts sculptor, published Fleet Street, 1778 by G. Kearsly. “DSN”  visited this site many times, while attending Glasgow School of Art,  to study Oil Painting. (Instructor Bill Crosbie). Etching loaned by David Shaw Nicholls.


  • Hamilton Mausoleum, Scotland. Fine pen in India ink on white paper, by David shaw Nicholls, 1974. Drawn in the meadow on the grounds of the estate. The buildings for the most part are removed but this Burial Monolith, remains. Chateau Herault was re-constructed successfully.


  • 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., who as 1st mentor served as the catalyst to leave town, “Forever and Forward”.

  • GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART: Evening painting classes. Master William Crosbie. “DSN” loved the two hidden treasures for escape, “The Hen Run” and  the Library.  “GSA” A genius work of ORIGINAL architecture, very sedate but with so much curvaceous beauty and power. “DSN” meets Thomas Howarth many yeas later in Scotland.  His bio “Mackintosh and The Modern Movement” remains the bible on “Toshi”.

    CREMATORIUM“At the time of publishing this solitary national treasure “burned down” and for the second time,  so stated > I am for the memory, only.  Charles Rennie Mackintosh rests peacefully now.” DSN 2018.

  • Very fast Pen drawing, “getting warmed up”, Glasgow School of Art (evening classes in oil painting). William Crosbie is the instructor.



    Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland. In the class of Sir. Robin Philipson, “DSN” mainly looking to “Humanities” and  the task of “Design”, a course which did not exist at the college. “Why design?…starts the thesis and delivers his paper to the upper school.

  • In the evening at Edinburgh College of Art. “Kate Blee on a high stool”. Oil on canvas, 1977

  • “Ladderback” prototype chair model, constructed prior to leaving Edinburgh  for Milan, Italy 1980, “Homage to Mackintosh”.

    “NEW DESIGN LAB”. Furniture design at Edinburgh College of Art.


  • Home studio, Edinburgh. Preparing for meeting with Ettore Sottsass and Domus editor Allessandro Mendini.

  • Asflexi Ltd is formed for the manufacture of “DSN” minimalist furniture. Jake Harvey the head of sculpture school facilitated the first prototype to be welded in the ECA sculpture department, “The only place in town metal could be welded”. The two -seater unit was launched at The Edinburgh Festival, Scotland in 1978. Invited by the Prescote Gallery, along with John Makepeace and the British Designer Craftsmen, DSN ASFLEXI is shown at the inaugural furniture exhibition at The New Edinburgh City Arts Centre. A walk down the road to the Richard De Marco Gallery and Joseph Beuys is setting up his installation.  Edinburgh International Festival Official Show Catalogue. 

  • The marketing campaign for DSN DESIGN COMPANY  is underway with trips to London and Europe, Milan and Paris. Meets with Walter Collins (Design dealer), Zeev Aram and “Conran” in London. The Asflexi Two-Seater unit is the first registered design, patent # 995257.

  • ASFLEXI COLLECTION Exhibition at The Fine Arts Society, Glasgow, curated by Roger Billcliffe, “Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement”. Meets Ward Bennet, Sunar, The CRM  Appreciation Society  in Glasgow. High Tech Showroom, Milan and the Salone di Mobile alongside “the young”, Ron Arad, M.I.Ghini, James Irvine, Jasper Morrison and Philip Starck.


  • Visits Count Panza Di Biumo, Varese, Italy to evaluate his collection of American Artists for possible re-positioning in Edinburgh, the Getty Museum, L.A. by Richard Meier is the recipient. “The hallway by Sol LeWitt is the finest piece of  non-art,” dsn.
    David Shaw Nicholls meets with Arthur M. Sackler in Edinburgh. “We discussed showing art and the challenges he faced as he conceived the Metropolitan Museum, New York,  extension.”  Moonlight at Palazzo Panza, Varese, Italy- subjected to L.Da Vinci Gardens. Pen and Ink.


  • “DSN” guest in the NYC Loft of Willem de Kooning and writes “No Crouching in the Gallery”, sees “Woman I” MoMa. No-where to sit in the gallery so he crouched down, to study the painting. The guard approached, excuse me, there is no crouching in the gallery. He went home to peruse through the fifty paintings up close. Sketches in the “WdeK” loft by David Shaw Nicholls, pen on paper.

  • After a phone call to Milan to his mentor, a “one-on-one” presentation to Ettore Sottsass Jnr. in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Boilerhouse Design Gallery. The London launch for Memphis and this encounter, a turning point for David Shaw Nicholls career. What do you want from me? Sottsass……Come to Milan,  to Domus Academy, I shall be there, and we take it from there.

    “Letter to the young Designer” Allessandro Mendini DOMUS NO.650.

    Excerpt “Portal” from portfolio prepared for Sottsass meeting. Nicholls new radical research on “Decoration” – Not a British Modernism.

  • 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, Toshiyuki Kita, El- Wakil. Factory and Studio Visits: Kartell, B&B Italia, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Olivetti and Pininfarina Spa.

    DOMUS No. 655

  • Photography session of first ever “DSN” architectural model.

    Made in the lab at DA.

  • AcademyVisionary President:  Andrea Branzi and Ettore Sottsass course Director in Urban Furnishing. Drawings by “DSN”.

  • Autumn of 1984/1985 joined SOTTSASS ASSOCIATI (Sottsass Associates). Specifically collaborated with Ettore Sottsass on the project Ponte Dell Academia for the III Venice Biennale of Architecture. Model maker for Carlo Scarpa, Igor Silic made the pear wood model, which is in the collection of Museum of Parma, Italy. © Copyright Sottsass Associates Employed as project architect at Sottsass Associati. Reported directly to ES. Ponte Del’Accademia for The III Biennalle of Architecture,.

  • Based in Milan for five years,  DSN collaborated with various designers, specifically Prospero Rasulo and Nanda Vigo on Bar Montmartre, cafe by day and music club by night. Open hours 7am -4am.

  • DSN Meets with Zaha Hadid in her London practice and completes the re-design of Ponte Dell Academia proposal, for the meeting. She is a visionary.”That was a good day. We talked and I listened, about all the problems about building and getting her things done in London.”I adored Zaha. She just wanted to get building. Last time I saw her was when she descended the main stair at MoMa with PJohnson to accept her award. 

    DSN Leaves London, back to Glasgow.  Scheduled to meet with Frank Gehry Architects in Los Angeles. DSN carries with him a personal recommendation,  letter for hire, handwritten by Ettore Sottsass to his friend Frank O”.  “Caro Frank, Ciao, how are you?…etc….etc…etc..by the way do not hire David!.”




  • “DSN” has an appointment in Los Angeles at Frank O Gehry and Associates. Just arrived in USA, his father “David Shaw Nicholls Snr.” passed away suddenly, back in Scotland. The trip to L.A. is terminated. A return trip back home to Scotland. The return trip to USA halted in NYC. A love and family of two dear boys in New York is the fresh new life…so “DSN” is anew a NEW YORKER.

  • In New York City David Shaw Nicholls launches BEAST, a furniture company.  New to ICFF and manufactured by craftsmen in long Island City The same workshops which pioneered work of the designer Tommy Parzinger and the work as branded as Parzinger Originals. Circa 1950- 70’s.BEAST consists of a programmed collection of prototypes: Arno and Arne chairs, Arianne and Arno tables, Aston credenza, consoles and Angus end tables. While the collection is intentionally part of a family, each piece is unique and commands highly skilled craftsmanship. The style and substance of BEAST relies upon DAVID SHAW NICHOLLS days in the “Hot-belly”of Italian design and all that implies.

  • BEAST Furniture Brand. ARO, ARNE, ASTON, ARIANNE, ARIA, ANGUS, ALI. prototype designs. Press: Modo, Design Magazine. Interior Design, Vogue Decoration, Vogue, AD, Metropolis, Domus, Abitare, Brutus Japan, Interni, Elle Decor, and numerous publications. Produced by “DSN nyc”.


  • Collaboration: David Shaw Nicholls and John Beckmann for Swid Powell. At this time, “DSN” also worked for Elizabeth Arden, fragrance bottle, packaging and display deign for Brands:  Calvin Klein and Karl Lagerfeld.

  • “DSN” Launches DAVID SHAW NICHOLLS Modern Rugs. Multiple travels to India and Nepal establishing hand weaving carpet and textile production of his designs. 1984 – Present. The concept was simple, “modern classic”carpets for a new carpet industry and fresh, new interior design. Roscoe Award for Sikri Collection and ICFF New York Editors Annual award”FLOORCOVERINGS”. New showrooms in New York and Miami Design District and a USA national distribution network of his own designs. Notables: BADOURA, ABACUS. LIMA, MAUI, HAVANA, TZAR, CONSTANTINOPLE, FLORES, PALIO + 100 registered designs.

    Image: Hon. Sonam Norbu, Tibetan Carpet Expert working with “DSN”.

  • David Shaw Nicholls Modern carpet designs. based in NewYork City, founded circa. 1989.

    Textural Construction and Figurative flowing “non-traditional” designs. Program and Bespoke “Custom Tailored” , smaller runner to mansion size. All under the creative control of designer “DSN”.

  • David Shaw Nicholls Carpets thanks, respectfully to Diana Vreeland.”ELEGANCE is REFUSAL” Editor, Vogue Magazine. The year of her passing in NYC (1989) , was the launch of the “DSN” BADOURA,  Textural Rug Design Collection and absolute simplicity, super luxury.


  • PRADO Carpet Design for Philip Johnson Architect, NYC.  A design meeting and PRADO Ermine color tone, is the outcome. Modern and classic, fitting for the re-visit to the NYC Townhouse. Originated by NICHOLLS the design should be bold and yet set in place. First published The New York Times.”


  • MoMa The Design Encyclopedia, Mel Byers. MoMa Publications, New York 


    “DSN” Back to Nepal and Tibetan Carpets.

    “A fresh world of wonder awaits, all to be undone..the designs are being well engineered and an art, is now a design, well carried through. The Team is intact both Nepal, India and back in New York City. Representation and distribution establish all over America.

  • DAVID SHAW NICHOLLS  Showrooms, New York and Miami.


    Constantinople Carpet. Tibetan Classic Collection, standard program. Purple Label.


  • Badoura Pureloom Carpet, Chemical free pure Tibetan wool simply washed. A fine yarn, hand carded and sorted. Poltrona Frau, NYC.

    Reverse pile as shown. 108″ x 144″ (275 x 366 cms.). $15000

  • Location: Charles Rennie Mackintosh, The Hill House.

    MAHAL runner carpet design. Superfine hand knot tapestry quality, floor and hanging texture.  Argentinian wool, Besabarian weave.




  • BADOURA + BRISAS Handknotted Rugs

    “Textural” program and be-spoke, pre-specialized. The Basic Component is shown for each programmed design.

  • Site: Sheraton Hotel Downtown, Phoenix. GENSLER & ASSOCIATES

    Be- spoke lobby carpets, a respite in the desert of Arizona.




  • ARCHITECTURE : On-The-Drawing-Boards

    Modest San Simeon, On the Hudson, New York (above left)  & Prescote Desert Spa, Arizona (right).

  • This period is the beginning of a decade of drawing and painting.

    The Intense Drawing Years, The Gathering  (Above left) + Boy and the Beast (right)

    Fast drawing on-site, ink pen on paper. Original.


  • Toscano Collection, Tibetan Program.

    FOSCARI Carpet. “Cirque du Soleil meets Dali in a renaissance sense” Be-spoke commission.

  • Drawing of Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona.

    Title: Camelback, Ink, graphite pencil and various hand pigment techniques on papers and card as assembled on site. Drawn by the pool, looking  behind the house. Started on Sunday morning and completed on Friday afternoon. Entirely un-planned starting with a piece of card 8.5″ x 11″ ( 21.6 x 28 cms.). Image size 59.5″ x 13.85″(152 x 35.2 cms.). Original


  • VIBRANTIC Carpet. Complex handknot weave.

    Vibrantic Tibetan Carpet. Program design and be-spoke tailoring by Nicholls.

  • IL BARINO, Montisi, Toscana.

    Title: IL BARINO DI MIO AMICO GIANLUCA.  Mixed pastels, inks and graphite on handmade paper.

    30″ x 20.5″ (74 x 52 cms.) Original as shown on board, untrimmed.


  • David Shaw Nicholls for ARKHABITAT LTD. Oceanic research.

    ArkHabitat Limited Research Program, Edinburgh based company for North Sea Oil & Gas Salvage and Up-cycling in Scotland. Depleted assets are re-defined for a new life and business development. Oceanic based focus, with land based architecture reaching into on the water and exploiting all tidal opportunities for free energy. Turbines are concealed underneath and internal to the structures.


    Towers are omnipresent and ever so valuable to the community, indeed the city and country they serve.  A surrounding complex springs up, and we are drawn to the source. This Tower is planned to insert into and enhance the opportunities of Scotlands beautiful and unique gateway to the highlands, the River Tay and the city of Dundee fits the bill. Imagine this great fiord as the welcome home.


    Etching Case  and “The Tools of the Trade” in collaboration with “GPS” Glasgow Print Studio. The translation of fine line drawing to copper plate etching is well underway. We started with the Camelback Drawing.  Dimensioned :  59.5″ x  13.85″. This is a titanic effort, successful only thanks to the team: Alistair Gow & Ian McNicol, master printers both and The Glasgow Print Studio.

  • A select group of copper etching plates are set aside and housed within a sealed glass case. The glass panels are etched to depict the optical observations of how the human eye perceives the viewpoint of vision as conceived by Leonardo Da Vinci. The actual plate which is the key to the limited hand worked, print run  1/50, forms the front face of the central pyramid. The etched panel first edition 1/1 of this plate,  forms the flip side. The entire case is self energized to be illuminated and supported by a specially engineered, folding “crab ” tripod. 100″ x 30″ x 24″ (254 x 76 x 60 cms.) approx.


  • The Genome program engineers a rug unique to your physical, cultural and characterized DNA. 5′-6″ x 8′-6″ (168 x 260 cms.) Textual and multi level.


    “HIT THE ROAD JACK (dsn)”