• John Loecke (left) and Jason Oliver Nixon (right) of Madcap Cottage<br />
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Images courtesy of Madcap Cottage
  • Images courtesy of Madcap Cottage
  • Images courtesy of Madcap Cottage

Madcap Cottage

John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon of Madcap Cottage pride themselves on banishing the beige and opting for color-rich whimsy and sophistication. Loecke and Nixon share with us their design process (which always involves a potent daiquiri and dancing the rumba) and their dream client.

How did you two meet and what’s it like working as a design duo versus individually?

John and I met through an editor friend at Vogue almost 15 years ago—we were practically children! Fast-forward to today and it’s such a treat to have a partner in crime. John and I bring different skills to the table but really complement each other. We can walk through a museum exhibition separately and discover that we have both honed in on exactly the same pieces of art and details. It’s a little weird how in-sync we really are…and fabulous, too!

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Imagine a British country house that pairs grandmother’s antiques and a spirited dash of Chinese chic with a side of Moroccan marvelous and Indian elegance. Shake, stir then pour. John describes us as “a little bit of Auntie Mame and a hell of lot of Carmen Miranda in one of those Busby Berkeley scenes where La Miranda wore oodles of bananas on her head.” Life should be a little bananas. The Madcap boys extol the wisdom of Miss Mae West: “When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.”

What’s the story behind your company name, Madcap Cottage?

John and I look at life as a madcap adventure. We work hard but also enjoy the ride and bring that sensibility to our designs. We think that design should be whimsical, witty and clever and it should put a smile on your face. Plus, we love the intimacy and coziness of a cottage whether that’s an urban cottage or a rose-covered house in the country. Voila! “Madcap” and “cottage,” the perfect combination. Cozy, chic and lots of cocktails—that’s how we roll.

When approaching a new project, what does your creative process look like?

We develop an overall storyline that guides our clients’ interior design process. We curate and edit your vision. The result is you, but with a capital Y and a dash of brush fringe on the side.

What’s been your favorite project thus far and why?

Our favorite project was designing a shotgun-style cottage in New Orleans’ French Quarter a few years back. We spent a few months working on the home and really fell in love with the city. Granted, we lapped up plenty of Sazerac cocktails!

Where is your favorite place to pick up furniture/décor?

The Madcap Cottage gents spend several months of the year traveling the world, which might be a week-long jaunt to Des Moines, Iowa, or a month in India or China. We pick up finds along the way and come home toting suitcases loaded with treasures. We also love nothing more than flea market finds, antiques and dumpster diving. You never know what you might find sitting next to a dumpster at Chick-fil-A!

Do you have a favorite room to decorate?

We love designing dining rooms that are filled with exotic whimsy and delicious antiques. Dining rooms should have disco balls, too.

If you owned a salon, what would it look like? How would you furnish it?

If we had a salon, we would call it Chez Bamboo and throw in all sorts of Chinoiserie fretwork, orange lacquer and Rococo mirrors. We would definitely have the Julie Christie/Warren Beatty film Shampoo playing above the reception desk and have the most flattering lighting and canapés. There would definitely be lots of plexiglass.

What are some simple tips salon owners can implement to make a space feel new?

Never be static. We definitely operate under the principal of evolve or die. Switch things out, change it up and shake! Why not take a salon to India for a season and then go Shanghai Deco or Lost Weekend in Hollywood? It’s amazing how inexpensive it is to change up a space with a little red spray paint and a hot glue gun.

If you could decorate anyone’s home or redecorate any space, who, what or where would it be?

We would love to redo The Drake Hotel in Chicago. It was once fabulous under the sage eye of Miss Dorothy Draper, but it’s all gone to pot since. The hotel’s Cape Cod Room and Coq d’Or eateries are still fabulous, but the rest of the joint is tired and tedious. We would take to the hotel with fabulous florals in bold colors and give it a glamorous Hollywood makeover. We would probably move in after completion and never leave and order up room service all the time and terrorize housekeeping with late-night requests for fresh towels and mints.
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