David Shaw Nicholls’s Journey

  • David Shaw Nicholls (“dsn”) was born in 1959, in the only Maternity Hospitality in many miles, beside the mining village named BELLSHILL, (Bothwellhaugh). A coal pit nicknamed “The Palace”, now under a man-made lake, hence Atlantis under Strathclyde Park, Baillieston, Lanarkshire, Scotland, was his playground, coal bings under a soccer ball, every kids escape was football and 9 out of 10 of his friends became professional football players. That was the dream.

  • The parents family were generations of coal miners. His Father David S. Nicholls Snr. was a mechanic and engineer, but always and ultimately a good gardener. His mother Isobel was a devoted, loving mother, of five (5) children. Three brothers of “dsn”  became engineers and his sister worked in Academia.

  • Original Etching of Bothwell Castle, P. Sands R.A. & W.Watts sculptor, published on Fleet Street, 1778 by G. Kearsly.  DSN visited this site many times, while at secondary school and attending Glasgow School of Art (GSA) evening classes to study Oil Painting. 

    Etching property of David Shaw Nicholls.


  • Hamilton Mausoleum, Scotland. Fine pen in India ink on white paper, by DSN in 1974, in the meadow on the grounds of the estate. This spot was largely unknown and the treasure a mystery. The estate buildings for the most part are removed, but this Burial Monolith remains. Chateau Herault, of “The Duke” was re-constructed successfully nearby in Hamilton some 25 years later.

    Inspiration, respectfully owed to Italian Architect Palladio and previously The Emperor Agrippa.


  • 1972 David attends Bellshill Academy Grammar school. His art teacher Mr. Beattie proved to be a a first mentor and strength.

  • 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” serves as a genius work of original architecture, very sedate but with so much curvaceous beauty and power. “DSN” meets Canadian Thomas Howarth many yeas later in Edinburgh, Scotland, whose biography “Mackintosh and The Modern Movement” remains the bible on “Toshi”.

    (2019) CREMATORIUM. At the time of publishing, this architectural treasure has “burned down” for the second time, under most incredible circumstance.  

    “As the building finally died, so did the memories and stories of many artists, now scattered across the globe. Charles Rennie Mackintosh rests peacefully.”  DSN

  • “GSA”

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


  • Edinburgh College of Art.

    “DSN”entered  college with a focus on Fine Art and continue painting.

    A bolt of lightning and something strange happened, he found a passion and curiosity for the reason behind the source of things, all that which appears around us.  Where do they come from and why?…..from a chair to a building.

    “Design, what is it and why do it……where does it come from ?”

    At ECA, furniture was focused upon the craft and the making of wooden pieces. It had a fully functioning wood shop. Design and machining  cold steel was not on the horizon but this did serve as the technology to best express the minimalist lines of the young designer. The upholstery, screening and even tabletop could best utilize stainless steel wire cloth technologies and the advanced products, spun-off from the Oil and Gas sector.

    Accepting an industrial sponsorship to set up ASFLEXI LTD, to produce and market his minimalist furniture collection.  Prior to his departure, delivers his “Why Design?” paper to the ECA upper school.


  • In the evening at Edinburgh College of Art. “Kate Blee on a high stool”, oil on canvas, 1977. A first study of the relationship between Fine Art and Design whereby a large influence is balanced  and clean, De Stijl and The Bauhaus. The visual plane is how we perceive our surroundings and that is the image we settle for, after decoding. Then we delve deeper and into 3-d space, which serves as a good clean start to minimalist furniture design.

  • “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. Mendini was a great support. As a result he craft “Letter to the young designer.” He said to me “Stay the young lion David”.  DOMUS # 650.a true original spirit. Photo, 1984 by Kate Blee.

  • 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, Martin Greirson and the British Designer Craftsmen, DSN Asflexi pieces are launched at the newly opened City Arts Centre. A walk down the road to the Richard De Marco Gallery and where Joseph Beuys is setting up his installation.  

    Edinburgh International Festival,  Official  Program, pp.51. 1980

  • DSN travels to Milan (meets Mario Bellini & Vico Magistretti ) and Paris. In London he is introduced to  Zeev Aram, Hille Int., Artemide and Conran in London. The Asflexi Two-Seater unit is his first registered design, patent # 995257.

    The Collection expands into 4 pieces: Two-Seater, One-Seater, Table and Screen, utilizing inventions of Oil and Gas Corp.


  • 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.


  • Alongwith Ricky Di Marco, visits with Count Panza , Villa Panza Varese,  to evaluate his collection for re-positioning in Edinburgh. The Getty Museum, L.A. designed by Richard Meier become’s the recipient. The hallway by Sol LeWitt is the finest piece of  so called non-art,” dsn.
    David Shaw Nicholls meets with Arthur M. Sackler in Edinburgh. “We discussed showing art and the challenges he faced with the extension wing to the Metropolitan Museum, New York.”  dsn

    Illustration: Moonlight at Palazzo Panza, Varese, Italy- subjected to Leonardo 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.

    In The Dakota, CPW. NYC, “DSN”  Re-connects with Ward Bennet after their initial meeting at “Charles Rennie Mackintosh” Appreciation Society Exhibition/Asflexi Launch in Glasgow. Michael Graves provided invaluable connections to know Philip Johnson, Larry Cadwallader(Knoll) and George Nelson. Went for one week, but stayed for one month.

    Totally loved New York City and destined to return.

  • 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 Re- Design of Bar Montmartre.  Cafe by day and MODERN, live music club by night. Open hours 7am -4am. 

    Bar service point. (above)

    Stairs to Piano Bar. (below)

  • 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!.”




  • With a letter from Ettore Sottsass to “Caro Frank” in hand “DSN” has an appointment in Los Angeles at Frank O’ Gehry.

    Having just arrived in New York , his father “David Shaw Nicholls Snr.” passed away suddenly in Scotland. The trip to L.A. is postponed, instead a trip back home to Scotland beckons. “DSN” does not arrive in L.A.


  • 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 is shown. 108″ x 144″ (275 x 366 cms.).

  • 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.







    DESIGNER QUOTE: “Cirque du Soleil meets Dali, Palladio is omni-present.

    QUALITY: Tibetan finest hand knot.

    PROVENANCE: Private,  be-spoke commission.

  • Drawing of Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona.

    TITLE: Camelback

    MEDIUM;  Ink, graphite pencil and various hand pigment techniques on torn papers and card as assembled on site. LOCATION: Camelback Mountain, Arizona.

    NOTE: Drawing 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.). Completed image size 59.5″ x 13.85″(152 x 35.2 cms.).

  • 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, an asset to the city and country they observe and serve.  En mass  we are drawn. This Tower for Dundee is planned to insert into the new design profile and exploit the opportunities of Scotland’s beautiful landscape. Here is the gateway to the highlands, savor the River Tay know the city of Dundee. Imagine this great fiord as the welcome home, with the lighthouse of Dundee tower which beckons.

    Below, WALLACE by DSN. 2012


    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.

  • WORK: Etching plates are housed in a sealed glass case. The  panels are etched to depict   how the eye perceives viewpoint  by Leonardo Da Vinci. A plate forms the facade of a central pyramid core. The 1st edition etched print, is the flip side. The case is illuminated. Engineered, folding “crab ” tripod.

    Dimension: 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.


    “ready to …..and don’t you come back no more”

  • “Heart and Soul” within, ongoing.