In the Mood: Tillett Textile Revival

A card-carrying New Traditionalist, New York-based Nick Olsen embraces bold pattern, antiques, and modern artwork in his residential projects--and a cheeky wit in his Twitter feed, which we happen to be addicted to. Though Olsen earned a degree in architecture from Columbia University, he got a crash course in interior design from the illustrious Miles Redd. Olsen launched his career by redecorating his own studio apartment in 2006, which was selected for the cover of Domino magazine that year. After working as Redd's assistant, Olsen struck out on his own to found his eponymous firm in 2010, and is currently obsessed with Tillett Textiles, the company founded by husband-and-wife duo Leslie and D.D. Tillett in the '40s. "The designs all have a curiosity about them, and an oversized scale--they're not these dinky little dainty things," says Olsen of the prints, beloved by style icons including Jackie Kennedy and Brooke Astor. Today, the Tillett label is steered by the founders' daughter-in-law Kathleen Tillett and her son Patrick McBride, and features the brand's iconic custom hand-printed fabrics, in addition to new designs and colorways.

AHA MOMENT "I was in a house in Texas in 2007--this massive stucco pile with all these grand spaces--and the master bedroom was done almost entirely in a Tillett chrysanthemum print," says Olsen. "I thought it was the most fabulous thing I'd ever seen." Though the motifs have been on his radar for years, Olsen thinks the recent wave of geometric prints makes the timing right for a Tillett revival: "There is a mild backlash against David Hicks geometrics and Chinese-inspired fretwork," says Olsen. "That's still on the radar, but I think it's going in the other direction, which is painterly prints that have a little more personality."

THE CROSSOVER We asked Olsen to translate his muse into a shopping wishlist, which includes everything from Kate Spade's Pueblo Tiles iPhone Case, to Paule Marrot's cocktail napkins. "I just love that print," Olsen says of the latter. "Once upon a time I wallpapered my huge ugly white fridge in that same floral."

DO TRY THIS AT HOME "It would be so easy to incorporate these prints into a minimal room for an instant focal point," says Olsen. "Doing even one chair and a pair of throw pillows on the sofa is a 'safe way' to do it --you don't have to do all the upholstery in the same fabric against a cobalt blue wall--even though I would!" The designer also points out that if you are still on the geometric bandwagon, the Tillett style is very compatible. "Because these prints are softer and have more character, they look great against rigid geometry," he says, then adds diplomatically, "And, I do love a Greek key--always will." Shop all of Olsen's inspired-by picks in the curated collection below.


Shop for these Tillett Textile fabrics exclusively at Carter Truesdale.

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 Chevron, #TT-206
 Mardi Gras, #TT-3027  Palm Overlap Outdoor Acrylic
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 Hayworth, #T4-2037  Iris, # TT-3007  Mitchell Stripe, #T4-2035