David Shaw Nicholls Journey

  • Born in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland

      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.


  • BELLSHILL ACADEMY, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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


    The Glasgow School of Art, “The Mack”, updated (2018).

     “While attending Oil Painting classes, with the Glasgow artist William Crosbie,  as well as  the niches, I loved two hidden treasures for their escape from routine life, ‘The Hen Run’ and ‘The Library’.  GSA was a painters heaven and if that was your plan in life, then this was the place. Design did not exist in the creative vocabulary, in those days. The building was an oasis for a young lad from an industrial suburb of Glasgow and the city was so very far away, reserved just for trips at Christmas time with my mum. Today it serves as a genius work of original architecture, very sedate but with so much curvaceous beauty, combined with grounded prowess. It is a well designed building with a stone facade and atrium to achor the wings, which in timber frame afforded spacious airy open studios with giant fenestrations.  Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a world inspiration. The staff and students blended freely, and private rooms had open doors. You could actually just sit in these original wonderful hi-back chairs and feel important for the moment. Many years later, I was glad to meet the Canadian author Thomas Howarth in Edinburgh,  whose biography “Charle Rennie Mackintosh and The Modern Movement” remains an absolute bible on “Toshi”. Thomas was a sheer joy and l loved his study of “CRM” the original designer architect, frail and force entwined”. DSN

    Hollow Cremation > “At the time of publishing these comments, this treasure while under a second re-birth as “The Phoenix Rises from The  Ashes”, GSA has burned down, again. The re-do was a masterwork of dedicated craftspeople to sensitive, exact and finite detail. As the building finally took another crippling assault, the sandstone ramparts held as the tears erupted again.  Glasgow School of Art is an original, and no-one and nothing which is so loved, can ever die. It shall go through an a imense catharsis and  emerge stronger than ever.” DSN

  • “GSA” Glasgow School of Art.

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


  • Edinburgh College of ART

     Edinburgh College of Art.

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

    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. We were all so accustomed to objects and architecture just existing without concern as to its origin, ” This word Design, what is it and why do it, industrial design ……where does it come from and why bother ?

    At ECA, furniture study was focused upon the craft and the making of wooden pieces, this proved invaluable. It alone,  had a fully functioning wood shop with trained technicians. 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 in search of his bare essential manifestation. The upholstery, screening and even tabletop could best utilize stainless steel wire cloth technologies and these advanced products and techno substraits, spun-off from the Oil and Gas sector. Cold and hard furniture seemed a good start.

    Accepting an industrial sponsorship to set up ASFLEXI LTD, to produce and market his minimalist furniture collection DSN started his first furniture company.  Prior to his departure, he 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 CHAIR – Prototype

    “Ladderback” prototype chair model, constructed prior to leaving Edinburgh for Milan, Italy 1980, “Homage to Mackintosh”, the man that never leaves me.


  • “Studies in Decoration”

    DSN Home studio, Edinburgh. Preparing for meeting with Ettore Sottsass (Memphis, Boilerhouse, V&A London).

    Domus editor Alessandro Mendini (Milan). Mendini was a great support  and encouraged the hope for the next generation.  “Letter to the Young Designer.” 

    DOMUS Magazine # 650.

  • EDINBURGH FESTIVAL, Prescote Gallery

    Asflexi Ltd is formed for the manufacture of “DSN” minimalist furniture. Jake Harvey the head of sculpture school at Edinburgh College of Art, facilitated the first prototype to be welded in the ECA sculpture department, truly “The only place in town tubular metal, could be welded”.  The two-seater unit was created and launched at The Edinburgh Festival, Scotland in 1978. Invited by the Prescote Gallery (Oxon, Banbury), along with John Makepeace, Martin Greirson and the British Designer (wood) 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 there is Joseph Beuys, setting up his installation. “He was an energy force to be figured out, more of a soldier than a priest, as I understood.” DSN 

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

  • ASFLEXI and DOMUS Magazine.

    DSN travels to Milan, meets Mario Bellini & Vico Magistretti. 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 with  furniture designer  Ward Bennett of Sunar and Herman Miller together join The “CRM Appreciation Society” in Glasgow.

    High Tech Showroom, Milan and the Salone di Mobile exhibited Asflexi Prototype in inaugural exhibition alongside “up and coming”; Ron Arad, M.I.Ghini, James Irvine, Jasper Morrison, Philippe Starck and more young lions…


  • Demarco, Panza di Biumo in Varese and Arthur M. Sackler

    Alongwith Richard Demarco and invited architects and artists, “DSN” visits with Giussepe Count Panza at  Villa Panza in Varese,  to evaluate his collection of post war American art,  for re-housing in Edinburgh.  “The hallway by Sol LeWitt is the finest piece of  so called non-art”. The Getty Museum in  Los Angeles, designed by Richard Meier is the recipient.  Illustration: Moonlight at Palazzo Panza, Varese, Italy.
    David Shaw Nicholls meets with Arthur M. Sackler in Edinburgh. “We discussed showing art and the challenges he faced with  the design of the extension wing to the Metropolitan Museum, New York.”  


  • Willem de Kooning Loft, Ward Bennet, Michael Graves, Philip Johnson &. NYC




    “DSN” guest in the NYC Loft of Willem de Kooning (WDK)  and writes the poem “No Crouching in the Gallery”. This as a result as he is guided to view “Woman I” in MoMa, New York. No benches, nowhere to sit in the gallery, he squatted down to study the painting. The guard approached and cautioned, “Excuse me sir, there’s no crouching in the gallery”. DSN returned home to peruse through the fifty W.D.K. paintings up close, stacked in shipments, leaning to the walls and no rush. (Pencil and pen sketches in the WDK loft by DSN.

    In The Dakota Apartments, CPW. NYC, “DSN”  Re-connects with Ward Bennet ( Herman Miller) after their initial meeting at Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Exhibition  and Asflexi Launch in Glasgow, Scotland (1980). Michael Graves provided invaluable connections to know Philip Johnson, Larry Cadwallader (Knoll) and George Nelson. Intended to stay in NYC for one week, but remained for one month, prior to going to Milan.

    Totally loved New York City and destined to return.

  • Meets Ettore Sottsass first time

    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.

  • DOMUS ACADEMY – year of inception.


    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. 648 (COVER) Faculty and Journeymen/Journeywomen.

    DOMUS No. 655 DSN Master Thesis

  • Master thesis : Model of “Corso Buenos Aries, master Thesis.

    Photography session of first ever “DSN” architectural model.

    Made in the lab at DA.

  • Sottsass and Branzi on stage.

    DOMUS Academy (Milan) The Visionaries: Ettore Sottsass (Top left) and Andrea Branzi right, course Director in Urban Furnishing. Drawings “live on stage”, by “DSN”.






    TALKING TABLE > Superstudio.1975.


    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. Sent off to Venice for several weeks, DSN is instructed by Sottsass to assemble notes and create architectural illustrations regarding “The Colors of Venice”. Model maker for Carlo Scarpa, Igor Silic is commissioned to make a pear wood model of “The Academy Bridge”, which along with the Sottsass estate is housed  in the collection of Museum of Parma, Italy. 








    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)

  • The Bridge “Re-Dux” Zaha H.

    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 Back in NYC, now to stay.


    With a letter in hand written by  Ettore Sottsass to “Caro Frank” in his pocket,”DSN” has an appointment in Los Angeles with Frank O’ Gehry, Ettore’s dear friend. Having now just arrived in New York from Milan, 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 is the priority. “DSN” does not nw arrive in L.A. on the return leg, remains in NYC, 30 years.


  • BEAST is Born.

    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 • New York

    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”.

  • Industrial Design “CARPET COLLECTIONS”

    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”.

  • CARPETS and thanks to Diana Vreeland

    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, Philip Johnson Arch. + NYTimes Mag.

    PRADO Carpet Design by DSN selected for Philip Johnson Architect’s Townhouse for Blanchette Hooker Rockefellar, NYC Townhouse.  The New York Times. Magazine.


  • MoMa The Design Encyclopedia

    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 > The Flagship Showroom , SoHo, NYC. (John Beckmann)




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

    Int. Design:

    Maya Linn

  • MAHAL Carpet Runner

    A pair of MAHAL runner carpet design. Superfine hand knot in tapestry quality, 160 knots per sq.inch. Floor wise and hanging, tactile  artwork.  Argentinian wool in finest Besarabian weave.

    Location: The HillHouse by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Scotland.





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

  • Sheraton Hotel, Phoenix, Arizona.

     Lobby carpets in the Phoenix Downtown Sheraton,  Be- spoke design by “DSN”.  A cool respite in the hot desert of Arizona.




  • Modest San Simeon + Prescote Desert Spa.

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

  • Fine Art – The Intense Drawing Years / The Gathering + Boy and the Beast

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

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


  • PIOVENE Carpet




    PIOVENE Carpet.


    Designer quote : 2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke & Stanley Kubrick +  Cirque du Soleil meets Dali, where Palladio is omni-present and Matisse hovers”. Tibetan finest hand knot carpets. A family of “scene-ography” for a highly personalized,  be-spoke interior.

  • CAMELBACK Arizona Artwork

    Camelback drawing in graphite pencil, ink pens and various hand pigment techniques on torn papers and card. Pasted together as it grew, assembled on site, the location is Camelback Mountain, Arizona, from the swimming pool. The site study, rapid and energetic pen drawing by the pool, it looks behind the house and across the valley. Started early on Sunday morning and completed on following Friday afternoon. Entirely un-planned it all started 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.).

  • CAPRI Carpet.

    CAPRI Fine hand knotted Tibetan carpet. Very complex, program design and be-spoke tailoring by David Shaw Nicholls. INTERIOR DESIGN Magazine, USA. 2016,  First Prize.

  • IL BARINO, Montisi, Toscana.


    MEDIUM: Mixed pastels, inks and graphite on handmade paper.

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



    Charcoal study


    ArkHabitat Limited Research Program, Edinburgh based company for  a re0-design of North Sea Oil & Gas Drilling Rig architecture, its 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. Key to the vision, is a practical solution for rising tides where the homes float to wander freely, are self sustained and safe. Since this action focuses in 3rd world challenges, such as the flood planes of Bangladesh, the need is urgent and a solution is possible for the ordinary family, suffered far too long.


    Towers are omnipresent, an asset to the city they observe and so serve.  En mass, as pilgrims we are drawn. This Tower for Dundee is planned to enhance the design profile of the city and endorse its history as a catalyst for trade and Internationalism. Rising as a needle, it pierces the clouds with a series of semi-enclosed viewing platform hubs.  Here is the gateway to the Scottish highlands, above the majestic River Tay, where this great fiord is the welcome home to the mariners and the new world travelers.

    Below, WALLACE ETCHING by DSN. 2019.

  • Etching “TOOLS OF THE TRADE”

    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.

  • ETCHING Glass Casement and Crab Stand

    SEALED CASEMENT : Etching plates are housed in a sealed glass case. The panels are etched to depict how the human eye perceives viewpoint and inverts, by Leonardo Da Vinci (circa. 1500, Tuscany). 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.


  • “ge-nome” Alchemy Carpets





    The “Ge-nome program engineers a rug unique to your physical, cultural and characterized DNA. You supply the details in a questionare and we create your very own carpet. No 0ther exists. Delivered factory to your door.

    Program size: 5′-6″ x 8′-6″ (168 x 260 cms.) Textual, natural fiber, chemical free and multi level.

    DSN is your personal DNA alchemist.


    “ready to go (to NYC)…..and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more”


    “Grateful to all the people who make this possible for over 30 years, all over the world. Love, heart and soul, within and ongoing “.

    David Shaw Nicholls


  • Arkhabitat ® Freedom Home.

    Arkhabitat ® Floating Free “Do-it-yourself, house and daisy chain farm”

    Materials: Vernacular to the zone, re-captured timber,  various reeds and bindings form simple tented enclosures.

  • David Shaw Nicholls Mindmap.

    The cyclic “Mindmap” diagram which explains the relationship between tasks and performance, from product concept to delivery.

    All references to “Star Wars” are copyright of The Walt Disney Company © 2012 (DIS)

    “Mindmap” is copyright of David Shaw Nicholls. © 2019 – 2020. (DSN).