Design Date – Madcap Cottage


Interior designers Madcap Cottage – Jason Oliver Nixon (left) and John Loecke (right) – have a style that is defiantly maximalist (think wallpapered ceilings, vintage furniture, and riots of pattern and colour). They’ve poured all their audacity and creativity into a new collection of fabrics for Robert Allen @ Home, called Into the Garden, which includes exotic palm-prints, embroidered stripes and polished cotton florals. Jason explains more about their exuberant style below.

How did your collaboration with Robert Allen come about? The Madcap Cottage gents have always wanted to pursue a fabric collection: we are mad collectors of vintage fabrics and are constantly pulling out our iPhones when we visit historic houses to capture unique patterns that are tucked under the stairs or used on a dining room chair. So when Robert Allen, a favourite source for us, approached us about developing a pattern-centric prints and woven collection, we jumped at the opportunity.

Does your collection fill a gap for your interior work – something you could never quite find? Absolutely! We wanted to create prints and wovens that would be an essential part of our interior design tool kit that would also be accessible to the trade and the consumer. Our collections are storylines with multiple entry points, which work together seamlessly – from neutrals to florals, stripes and novelties, with colourways that tie the whole together. Plus, we were craving chintz, so we added some polished cottons into the mix. It’s time to banish the beige and neutral and bring pattern back to the forefront.

Were there any unusual sources of inspiration for fabrics? English country houses are amazing sources; India is always revelatory, and we are like paparazzi in Jaipur and Jodhpur snapping away furiously to capture the gloriously insane colour juxtapositions and patchwork perfection. We also love vintage design books, classic movies and rooting about the Bienenstock Furniture Library, the world’s largest design library (which happens to be housed in our hometown of High Point, North Carolina). Vintage magazines such as Look, Holiday, and Flair are also important go-tos for our visual lexicon.

Is there a British influence in your interiors work? We are diehard Anglophiles: I spent all of my childhood summers in England, and John has read every book about every Mitford and dollar duchess, and Syrie Maugham and Nancy Lancaster, ever written. We are in London at least six times a year, and spend two to three weeks in the summer exploring English country houses. If Nancy Lancaster had had a fling with Billy Haines, we would be their heirs apparent.

Your interiors are highly decorative, but are they practical too? Our homes are uber functional: we drink red wine, have pups who like nothing better than sitting on a down sofa, and we like to put our feet up, so we create similar environments for our clients. Who wants to live in a home where you cannot curl up on a sofa or have spontaneous disco dancing while sipping a Montepulciano with the pugs?

Do you have a favourite interiors project that you’ve worked on? We are currently working on a 13-acre, 20,000-square foot estate in Virginia that calls to mind an English country house with a layered, collected and accumulated sensibility. When complete, the home will have a glittering music room that will feel like a repurposed ballroom, a lacquered den, a garden room that nods to Nancy Lancaster’s sitting room at Kelmarsh Hall, and a foyer that feels very William Kent.

Where do you visit in London for design inspiration? The Victoria & Albert Museum is always a first stop; I have been tempted to try out the Bed of Ware, but John has held me back, happily. Fortnum & Mason is heaven (we love eau de nil) then we might hit up Leighton House, Eltham Palace, Kew Gardens or Syon Park. And we will probably round off the day at Rules or Ronnie Scott’s.

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