Behind the whimsical world of Madcap Cottage are designers John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon. The duo brings a playfulness and a reverence for history to their pattern-filled, colorful interiors. Whether it’s a far-flung treasure from abroad, or a piece from their own collection, the pieces discovered and designed by Loecke and Oliver meld the classic with the joyful.
Now the Madcap marvels can be yours—shop the gents’ consignments only at Sotheby’s Home.
How and why did you come up with the name Madcap Cottage for your business?
John and I didn’t want to use our own names because we wanted to create a lifestyle brand that was global and attached to a sensibility and spirit, and not directly to us. Madcap Cottage is a brand and bigger than John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon. Hence, “Madcap,” which is a throwback adjective that suggests sophisticated good fun and throwing care to the wind. Think running down Park Avenue in Manhattan or Sloane Avenue in London in tuxedos and party dresses, and jumping into a fountain with a pitcher of martinis in tow and Bryan Ferry crooning somewhere in the distance. And “Cottage,” because we love the suggestion of “cozy” and “intimate” that the word implies. That might be a country cottage or city cottage or beachside cottage or a very modern cottage…Bringing the two words together seemed to perfectly capture the brand spirit and sensibility that we were going for. The best compliment we can get is when someone asks, “Oh, do you work for the Madcap Cottage brand?” Mission accomplished.
Read more on how to master the art of beach chic home décor.
You mix patterns, historical styles, and colors so beautifully. What’s the secret sauce that creates this perfect mix?
Have fun and break the so-called rules. We are huge students of history and travel like crazy—from road trips to John’s native Iowa to a recent jaunt across Sicily and heaps of visits annually to England—and we bring that mix to the table. Mix larger scale prints with smaller, and enjoy the ride. No one remembers a beige living room. But throw in some fantastic florals, glorious geometrics, and bold botanicals, and the mix is electric and riveting. If you want to live in a clinical and sterile environment, pay a visit to the local hospital.
Shop our favorite floral pieces on Sotheby’s Home.
A love of vintage textiles is evident in all of your designs. If you had to choose all your fabric from one era, what would it be?
John and I are huge collectors of vintage textiles and antique prints, and we have drawers upon drawers in the Madcap Cottage studio space overflowing with fabrics and such, labeled “Florals,” “Small-Scale Geometrics,” “Botanicals,” and more. We are huge fans of the Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler of Colefax & Fowler English country house look that brilliantly pairs antiques and new finds through layering, layering, and more layering. It would have been amazing to have lived in the 1930s and interacted with the likes of Rose Cumming, Elsie de Wolfe, John Fowler, Nancy Lancaster, Dorothy Draper, and Ruby Ross Wood. Oh, what a dinner party that would have been! Pass the gin, and don’t be stingy. We are also passionate about auctions and have picked up incredible pieces from the estates of luminaries such as Bunny Mellon, the Chatsworth attic sale, Fleur Cowles, Betsy Bloomingdale, and more.
Take a page out of John and Jason’s book, and get the look of Chatsworth House yourself at home.
What special talents do you each bring to the table that make your design partnership thrive?
We are both storytellers and bring a passion for curated content to the table. We tell stories through our antique and vintage finds—as well as through our new product lines that include fabrics, wallpaper, lighting, tabletops, rugs, and more. Plus, John and I have different skill sets that have allowed for a successful business partnership. John sketches and draws everything, and I am more the marketer and brand strategist. We both have a good head for business and are very aware of the bottom line and cash flow as well as being able to craft a knockout mood board and paint a floral fabric. We have a great—albeit small—team behind us who helps bring our vision to life and keeps the underpinnings buttoned up. In our case, it doesn’t take a village—it’s more of a hamlet.
As world travelers, you’ve seen so many incredible places around the world. What are some of your favorite places to snag gorgeous finds?
We are huge fans of vintage and antique finds, and have been lucky enough to travel the world and cart home oodles of inspiration in our suitcases. That might include tiles from Istanbul, Portugal, and Palermo; furnishings from Des Moines, Iowa; bric-a-brac including antique prints and sterling silver from London; occasional tables from Little Rock, Arkansas; vintage porcelain from Beijing; and antique textiles from Rajasthan in India. Keep your eyes open, as great design resides everywhere.
Your fashion choices (floral pants anyone?) often mimic your bold, colorful designs. Where do you get all those great outfits? Do you repurpose old textiles?
We have a great tailor who rolls their eyes every time we make an appointment. We use the Madcap Cottage line of fabrics to create everything from the aforementioned floral pants to arresting sports coats, pocket squares, bags, and more. As Mae West once said, “It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.” Always stand out in the crowd.
What do you think of the term “matchy matchy”? Pro or anti?
Loathe. Never match, always mix. The only “match” we like involves tennis.