David Shaw Nicholls is an architect and designer. He has spent over 40 years in private practice, turning rich ideas into real product.

As a young lad born in a Scotland, he practiced drawing and painting. Design became his focus and in particular furniture, its production and business. His projects took him across the world, where he oversees locations in New York and Italy, production in India and Nepal. As well as his rug and textile company, he is involved in applied research into New Architecture and Up-Scaling related redundant assets, Furniture design, Fine art, Printmaking and Pattern manufacture for the Interior and Exterior Construction environment.

Attending high school, David Shaw Nicholls (dsn) initially went to Glasgow School of Art, to study Fine Art. He then attended Edinburgh College of Art and researched 3-D Design. His college study paper “Why Design?” inspired his minimalist Asflexi furniture collection, which received International acclaim. In Italy, his research and dialogue with other industry luminaires; directed “dsn” to the newly founded, visionary postgraduate school Domus Academy. He graduated Master in Architecture and Urban Planning under Prof. Sottsass, program of “Architecture in the Metropolis for Culture Activity”. After a brief stint at Sottsass Associates, he collaborated within the intense “Design Hot Bed” of Milan, 1982- 1986.

Ever peripatetic, David Shaw Nicholls moved back to NYC where he opened his architecture and product design studio in Tribeca in 1985.  At the ICFF in NYC he introduced The BEAST furniture collection and worked on a spectrum of products from product fragrance bottle and display design, tabletop, surface and interior design to architecture. In 1993 David Shaw Nicholls Modern Rugs was founded. His unique and luxurious creations, quickly became a couture inspiration to the textile industry and the floor coverings of choice. The company pioneered computer drafting, combined with ancient craft techniques, all captured within his calibrated color palette and essential textures.

The Earth Action Years

THIS ERA 2011-2017

can best be described as the “Intense” drawing years, fine art pierced with architectural propositions for a busy, chaotic world. “DSN” worked in his studios between Scottsdale, Arizona, Westhampton Beach, New York, Tuscany and Glasgow, Scotland.

Year 2011 Nicholls is based in his New York Studio as the Tohoku earthquake struck, resulting in a massive Tsunami.  His relations with Japanese friends, and their findings triggered the “Tsunami Mitigation “ studio proposals. A building design analysis, for the dispersion of the wave energy and the “intelligent” geographical and geological positioning of new structures and townships is an ongoing, documented debate. Such is a risk-analysis, balanced against the architectural design and practical suggestions.

In April 2015, a devastating earthquake struck the heart of Nepal and killed nearly 8,000 people. With additional loss of life, it devastated David Shaw Nicholls carpet factory partner, in the Sita-Palia district of Kathmandu. “DSN” from a family of Scottish engineers, immediately set to work on an Anti-seismic re-build, which in 2018 is completed, as phase 1 of 2 steps. The construction and materials are basic,

while the design relies upon new data. Budget is a constant concern and the re-use of material debris is a temptation, thus a difficult decision. All work is subject to physical manpower, which can get the business back on track as quick as possible.

In his Glasgow studio in 2017, “DSN” is observing notifications regarding the problems surrounding the “break-down” of “North Sea Oil and Gas” assets and the crash in oil prices, on a global basis. Electric vehicles are “planned to be the new norm”, Tesla squarely on the wings and Ford in top-gear, the O+G industry, enters turmoil. Can we turn a $50 -500 million structural deficit, into an architectural asset? Can oilrigs, these leviathan platforms, provide, intelligent re-use? Is it even cost effective to make them function with a new life, or are they just rusted skeletons, to be scrapped? David Shaw Nicholls sets up The ARKHABITAT® Research Company and presents his work thesis


In Glasgow David Shaw Nicholls practices printmaking and as an industry of interpreting fine art, he is consumed. Working alongside master printers, he re-visits “The Intense Drawing Years 2011 – 2017”. Copper plate sourced in Clyde Side, Glasgow and hand mixed ink paste to a most complex alchemy, the medium of copper plate etching converts the line drawings into living print.


Fine Art Society “CRM and The Modern Movement “(1978)

Edinburgh International Festival (1980)

The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers,   “Design” (1981)

III Venice Biennale, Ponte Del’ Academia, Architecture, Collaboration with Ettore Sottsass (1986)

ICFF Editors Award > Category ”floor Coverings”, (1991)

Roscoe Award >  “Sikri Collection of Floor Textiles”, Interior Design, USA (1994)


Sottsass Associates, Rizzoli, (1985)

Metropolis, USA, “The New American Entrepreneurs”, May (1991).

The Design Encyclopedia, Mel Byars, MoMa, Museum of Modern Art  (2004)