AN INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER
JASON OLIVER NIXON
Jason Oliver Nixon, partner with John Loecke in Madcap Cottage, shares the backstory on their smash-hit rug collection for Momeni. [Photo courtesy of The Furniture Geek on The Design Network]
HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Madcap Cottage founders John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon infused the area rug industry with some much needed irreverence and levity with the premiere of their first collections for Momeni at High Point Market.
The duo, known for their eclectic, whimsical spin on the classic English cottage look (described by them as a "little Auntie Mame and a splash of Carmen Miranda"), introduced more than 30 area rugs for Momeni during the fall market, each articulating the designers' flair for storytelling.
Founded about a decade ago, Madcap Cottage's reputation for mixing patterns and colors for some far-flung results -- at least far-flung by today's gold standard of pared down transitional interiors -- has garnered an international coterie of fans, and the area rugs crafted by Momeni remain true to the company's signature style.
Madcap Cottage's classic mash up of colors and patterns is illustrated by the playful Spencer design which debuted at Momeni during High Point market.
RugNews.com caught up with Nixon (whose new TV series 'The Furniture Geek' on The Design Network also debuted during High Point Market) to learn more about the brand that came to be one of the industry's most fun and sought-after licenses.
How would you define the Madcap Cottage style?
JN: We've done modern houses and very traditional houses. And everything we do on the design front is catering to what our design clients want. But for us, we like a sense of history, a sense of special, nothing looks store-bought. It's that English country house look, with a mix of antiques and contemporary art. And with our products, we're giving consumers the tools to have some fun. Everything doesn't have to be beige or gray.
How has your aesthetic evolved over the years?
JN: We're constantly traveling; it could be a road trip to Des Moines, Iowa, or a trip to Morocco or England -- we're using those experiences to expand our vernacular. All those elements we see during our travels -- from fashion, food, architecture, and more -- we keep them in our heads and they really influence our designs.
So how does that aesthetic translate to this new Momeni collection?
JN: John doesn't travel anywhere without his watercolor kit. And many of the designs we've done for our various collections are based on John's original watercolors. With Momeni, it was taking all those patterns and prints and reinterpreting them for rugs. We worked with Momeni's design team to take those original prints and patterns, and make them unique. We layered in some new patterns, or referenced the patterns in our textiles collection for Robert Allen.
What were your criteria for a licensing partner in area rugs? What drew you to Momeni?
JN: What we liked about Momeni is that they can do anything, from natural fiber to indoor/outdoor to wool. So they had the design capabilities, the marketing capabilities, and the distribution channels. In licensing, that's the triumvirate you have to have.
Fretwork, Chinoiserie and quatrefoil motif layer beautifully in this new design from Madcap Cottage's Under a Loggia collection by Momeni, which is hand-hooked in polypropylene.
What niche did you hope to fill in the area rug space with your Momeni collection?
JN: Prints and pattern is our space, whether it's modern, traditional bohemian, industrial, and so on. We're tapping all of Momeni's capabilities, bringing a layer of English whimsy to the table. We wanted to present things that aren't there already, and that are aspirational but affordable.
These rugs are sophisticated, rooted in history, and have a spirit of tradition to them, but they're also wonderfully layerable, and will put a smile on your face. And they're hard wearing: we have four rescue dogs, so we're not going to put anything in the marketplace that we can't enjoy and my dogs can't sit on. So whether you have kids, dogs, drink red wine, we wanted to offer the idea of easy, not fuss, no muss, but that looks great. We like to say, life is short, dream in color!
Any favorites or highlights in your area rug collection by Momeni?
JN: We're big fan of needlepoint, and we loved bringing the spirit of that lost art of needlepoint to a rug collection. They're a nod to the past, really fun, but also a little bit naughty.
We did a whole bunch of rugs with funny sayings, like, "Children are wonderful but dogs don't have to go to college." I'm also excited about our fiber rugs, like Cloud Club, which is based on the décor of the club at the top of the Chrysler Building, and I can't wait to use it in a project.
When you're working on an interior design project, or even when you decorate your own home, how do area rugs fit into your design process?
JN: Rugs are so essential to the conversation happening in a room; we think of the floor as just as important as the walls. We really like to layer rugs. Or we'll find a vintage rug and use it as inspiration for the room. Right now we are really into Nichols rugs, we love their beautiful Art Deco chinoiserie patterns. We also love using indoor/outdoor rugs in unexpected places. Just as performance fabrics have really come to the forefront in the textiles space, indoor/outdoor rugs are just as important.
Madcap Cottage's new area rug designs rework classic cottage motifs and colors for contemorary homes. Shown, Durris
How does your home in High Point, which you bought and decorated four years ago, fit in with the growth of your brand?
JN: The brand itself is about 10 years old. When we moved down here [from New York City], it was just for the idea of spreading our wings. At the time, we didn't have any licenses; now we've gotten nine partnerships within four years. Our house is really our brand come to life. I'd describe our style at home as easy, relaxed, unstuffy, with lots of history. There are fun stories to every piece in our house. When we really want to showcase what our vision is, we'll have people over for gin rickeys and dinner!
What are your and John's backgrounds?
JN: We worked our way up through magazines. I started at House & Garden, and later was a television producer at the Food Network. John was at Parents and Ladies Home Journal. Neither of us went to journalism school or design school; it was just learning on the job. We are storytellers at heart, and if you are, you can take that to any realm. I never thought I'd be an interior designer but at one point we thought, "Why are we writing about other people's stuff when we can just make it ourselves?"
So what's next for Madcap Cottage?
JN: We're launching party linens next spring, which could be used for everything from Grammys parties to weddings. Tabletop is launching next year - not just china but very accessible melamine. We're also talking to hotel companies about a project, and working on a fashion partnership that will be very different. For 2019, one of our goals is to launch a new fabric collection with a new house. It'll be heavily based on performance fabrics with a prints component. When it comes to working with other companies, we really do our homework, align with people who are smart and get it and we'll see where it goes.
Madcap Cottage founders Jason Oliver Nixon, left, and John Loecke's new rugs from Momeni, pictured on floor and draped across the table, irreverently rework the classic English cottage style.