Calico Wallpaper Founders Nick and Rachel Cope’s Brooklyn loft.
Photo: William Jess Laird

Calico Wallpaper Founders Transform Their Brooklyn Loft with an Array of Captivating Designs

Nick and Rachel Cope worked with Hovey Design to breathe new life into the Red Hook residence where the wall coverings brand was born

Nick and Rachel Cope of Calico Wallpaper in their Red Hook loft. Photo: William Jess Laird

A lot has changed in the decade since Nick and Rachel Cope founded wall coverings brand, Calico Wallpaper, in their swoon-worthy Brooklyn loft. In that span of time, not only has the couple relocated from the city to a bucolic property in the Hudson Valley, they’ve become first-time parents—all while turning Calico into one of the leading resources for bespoke, high-design wallpapers. Today, the brand has released more than 50 collections including collaborations with Daniel Arsham, Faye Toogood, Meyer Davis, Lindsey Adelman, and Chris Wolston.

Despite moving upstate, the Copes retained the Red Hook apartment where it all began as a way to maintain a foothold in the city. Ahead of their brand’s ten year anniversary, the pair enlisted Porter and Hollister Hovey from Hovey Design to help reimagine the space, which is now sheathed wall-to-wall in some of Calico’s latest offerings and filled with an array striking collectible design pieces.

Below, the couple talks to Galerie about the renovation and expansion plans, including their highly anticipated West Coast showroom.

The dining area features a pendant by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio and walls clad in Toodgood’s Muse wallpaper. Photo: William Jess Laird

A design from Calico’s Abstract Collection, in Figment, clads one of the bedrooms, which also features a custom bed by Mark Grattan. Photo: William Jess Laird

Galerie: How has Calico evolved as a brand in the past ten years?

Nick: It is hard to overstate how much Calico Wallpaper has evolved in the past ten years and it all begins in this loft. In 2012, Rachel and I were living together in our dream apartment—she was an art therapist, working at NYU Hospital’s Psychiatric Center, and I was the founder of a small eco-friendly contracting company called Dark Green. We both were excited about where we were, but had always wanted to collaborate on a project.

Hurricane Sandy came and turned our lives upside down—the storm shut down Rachel’s unit, and my projects were put on hold. She was on paid leave for four or five months, and I developed this idea of taking her artwork and making it into something custom for my interiors projects. Amazingly it took off! At that time, we were running the company out of the loft with one employee (from my old company) and our cat.

All of the new development, marketing research, sample creation, and more all happened in this space. It worked well until we had our first child in 2015 and realized that we had to create more separation between work and life, so we opened our first office nearby. Now, more than ten years after our start, we have won countless awards, have nearly 20 employees, have a showroom in TriBeCa and plan to open a new showroom in Los Angeles in the coming months. Although we have grown as a company, we still stick to our mission of “elevating wallpaper to high art.”

The walls feature Ephemera by Meyer Davis, in the Pastiche colorway. The pendant is by Ay illuminate and the leather lounge chairs are by Sun at Six. Photo: William Jess Laird

Galerie: What are your favorite elements of the updated Red Hook apartment?

Nick: The wallpaper! We feel that it transforms the space, but I suppose we’re biased here. We have Porter and Hollister from Hovey Design to thank for the re-imagining of the apartment. We had previously worked with them on our home in Prospect Park South, and sought them out again to help us with our Red Hook loft in the same collaborative fashion. They transformed the space through and through—they have a really refined yet playful vibe which we love for when we’re in the city.

Personally, having an upgraded kitchen with a new concrete counter by our friends at Trueform Concrete was an amazing transformation for the space—it’s cream colored and also adds a new wonderful functionality as well. The rearrangement of the dining area was masterfully done as well which is anchored by our Piet Hein Eek Scrapwood dining table and chairs courtesy of The Future Perfect. I also love the several interventions by Shuya Lida of Hachi Collections—he is also in Red Hook and is a fantastic woodworker who has his own collections, but does custom work as well. He created the slatted moving screen that was cleverly designed to hide the heating unit in the main entry.

The living area features a pair of Faye Toodgood chairs (as well as her Muse wallpaper) and a Nelson Saucer Bubble Pendant from Herman Miller. Photo: William Jess Laird

Galerie: Does the space have new meaning now versus when you started the company?

Rachel: The space is radically transformed. During the pandemic, we moved upstate to have more space for the kids to run around and for a deeper and more meaningful connection with nature. We also fell in love with the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School, where we sent the kids to school at that time. That being said, we did not want to let go of our connection to the city, so while we were transitioning into a life in hills on 40 acres, we were also working on our showroom space in Manhattan and putting energy into upgrading our loft.

When we moved in 12 years ago, we decorated the space with mostly found objects and curios. However, this time around we brought in a lot of work that was created by friends in the design community—work by Lindsey Adelman, Ladies & Gentleman Studio, Mark Grattan, and The Future Perfect adorns the space. Behind the obvious aesthetic reasons, we love seeing the work created by the people around us. We are fans just as much as we are friends!

Sheathed in Toogood’s Muse wallpaper, the renovated kitchen features new concrete counter by Trueform Concrete. Photo: William Jess Laird

Galerie: Are any of the latest collaborations showcased?

Rachel: We have several collections in the apartment, but have showcased two collaborations—both of which we are very excited about. The first, in the living room and kitchen (main room) is Muse by Faye Toogood. Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to be reminded that it is real—we have actually created two collections with the British polymath. Muse is a study on the female form—it explores the endless diversity and variety of womankind, forming a painterly tableau of faces with a rich array of features, poses and expressions. Based on an original painted artwork by Toogood with sweeping brushstrokes, the collection is inspired by the concept of the female muse with six colourways that honor iconic women such as Marie Curie and Coco Chanel. It creates a stunning backdrop for the most beautiful room in the loft.

We also have Ephemera by Meyer Davis, the New York–based design studio that is known for designing some of the most incredible hotels around the world, along with retail and residential spaces as well. Drawing inspiration from the approach of artists in the genre of Matisse, Calder, and Brâncuși, Will and Gray experimented with creating a collage using oversized abstract forms. By exploring a variety of materials with different textures and transparencies, and working with the contrast of light and shadow, we were able to create the visual effect of an embossed surface. The selected shapes are suggestive of the scraps and offcuts of an art practice, evoking the scattered ephemera that accumulates in a creative studio. Their incredible work transforms the other great room in the house, which connects the entrance to all the rooms of the loft. It was a space that was previously dark and now it is alive with color and pattern.

A bedroom is covered in Paradiso, which is Calico’s own spin on the jungle motif, in the Abaca colorway. Photo: William Jess Laird

Galerie: What is the brand headed next? 

Nick: Rachel and I are extremely proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and build within the first ten years of Calico Wallpaper. This year we have a number of exciting collaborations and new guest designers including a capsule collection with Colin King and a wallpaper line designed by Jean Pelle of Pelle Studio. Our Lindsey Adelman Eden Collection that launched in 2020 has been a great success and the color assortment will expand this June.

Alongside the collaborations, we will also be launching a number of in-house designs driven by Rachel’s own artwork and creations. Our upcoming Los Angeles showroom will position Calico to be a bi-coastal brand, expanding our audiences and customer bases. We are also anticipating international growth over the next few years, a natural evolution of our global work to date while having participated in Milan Design Week and other events across the world.

Cover: Calico Wallpaper Founders Nick and Rachel Cope’s Brooklyn loft.
Photo: William Jess Laird


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