Behind the Brand: Maison Venu

There are moments when I get giddy over what I consider "really good finds" for Cailíní Coastal and discovering Maison Venu was one of those moments.
I was first drawn to Maison Venu through these stunning Magnolia Napkins (that we now sell).  They were beautiful, unique and lured me in. I learned that Founder, Olivia Massie, was not only a seasoned textile designer, but had first-hand experience on the production side of block and screen printing in India.  Rare and impressive! I knew this budding talent was going to explode so I immediately emailed her to connect.  After speaking with the lovely Olivia, I asked her if she would be interested in collaborating to create our first-ever custom linen collection...voila!  

We met in the city (New York) in December to review the preliminary designs and what she created is more than what I could have dreamed up.  This first collection is a contemporary take on a classic coastal stripe.  Offered in our signature blue and white palette, as well as a red, white and blue for all of your summer entertaining needs. 
Read on to learn more about the amazing Olivia Massie, and shop the Maison Venu x Cailíní Coastal Collection here
xo Meg
Photo by Darina Todorova
CC: Tell us about your background and how you got your start as a textile designer.

MV: Before starting college, I traveled to India for a leadership and service program. I was living with homestay families in rural villages throughout Northern West India. I intended to study Art History, but completely fell in love with Rajasthani textiles and handicrafts. As I started college, I made it my mission to look for any job opportunity that would bring me back to India. I studied Textile Design at the University of Georgia and took as many business classes as my schedule would allow me to! Upon graduation, I moved to a village outside of Jaipur, India to design block prints for a women-led manufacturing organization. For that year, I immersed myself in everything from sourcing, color theory, design, and product development to production and distribution. I lived in a small village, which was almost like living on a farm and I could see the block printing unit from my bedroom window. I loved living in this humble village because it taught me what life was like for the people I worked alongside. It was an invaluable experience for a number of reasons, but I learned the obstacles and challenges that arise while trying to bring a finished product to market.
I then moved to New York where I worked for private design houses and larger businesses that designed and supplied fabric to furniture manufacturers, retailers, and fabric companies all over the world. I designed woven fabrics for upholstery and decorative use. I really enjoyed this work; designing woven fabric is entirely different from prints. It’s technical and involves understanding the math and fabrication of a design. I always kept in touch with the friends I’d made during my time in Jaipur and knew at some point, I wanted to create a collection of my own.
Credit: Maison Venu

CC: When did you start Maison Venu and what led you to go out on your own?
I launched Maison Venu in January 2023 to the wholesale industry at Maison Objet in Paris. Our website launched to the public just about a year ago. I knew early on that I wanted to work for myself, to create something of my own that was an expression of my creativity. As a formally trained designer, most jobs in my industry did not touch the marketing, sales, strategy, or operational side of the business. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I enjoy understanding how these pieces come together to sell the product I’m designing. I was excited to challenge that side of myself through launching my own business.
Considering what Maison Venu could introduce that would be different than what’s currently available in the market, I reflected on what textiles mean to me and the sentiment they hold in my life. I wrote a letter to our audience when we first launched about my hope to design pieces that become part of the memories you create in your home. This thesis drives the prints I design and the product we will continue to introduce.
Credit: Maison Venu

CC: Where do you get your inspiration?
There are a couple of different ways I could answer this question. The root of my inspiration is the way our product is made; it’s an art in itself. As a designer, I try to design for the technique that will be used to bring our pieces to life. The way a technique can transform a design is fascinating. Whether it’s screen printed versus block printed or embroidered versus woven, the way something is made completely changes the way we experience and perceive a design.
I draw the artwork for Maison Venu all by hand. I love antique textiles and am inspired by pairing these ancient techniques with my original designs. Many antique textile motif’s were inspired by nature and the village life of the artisan. I adopt a similar approach and draw nostalgic florals and elements in nature that I see throughout my daily life. I manipulate these drawings and turn them into repeated patterns, engineered prints, or motifs for embroideries or wovens.
Credit: Maison Venu

CC: You have lived in India, travel back regularly, and truly understand the process of block printing. Can you explain the art to those who are not familiar?
MV: Block printing is a meticulous and thoughtful craft. When designing for a block print, I have to keep in mind the scale and orientation of the design. The scale determines how large the wood block will be, and a person will hold this block and print with it all day. Once a design is created, the block carver uses a charcoal rub to transfer my drawings onto basswood. He then carves each block, following the hand of my design. When you look at a block printed design, each color is printed with a separate block. A block takes 1-5 days to carve; it entirely depends on the complexity of the motif’s. If it’s an intricate design with multiple colors, the block carver could spend over 2 weeks carving the blocks.
When the blocks are complete, they are soaked in mustard oil to seal and protect the wood. When dry, the block can be used for printing. While block printing was originally a Chinese art form, the process was adopted by Indian artisans about 2,000 years ago. Many of the famous, heritage block prints we see today in the home and fashion industries originated during the Mughal empire in the 16th-17th centuries. The paisley and floral vine patterns that come up when you google “block printing” are some of these designs. It fascinates me to see motif’s that have been printed for over 700 years continue to be popular and is a tribute to the art of this craft.
Credit: Maison Venu

CC: Let’s talk quality! One of the reasons we love your products is because of the exceptional quality. Can you tell us more about the fabrics/materials you use and any other details that make your pieces so special?
MV: I appreciate your acknowledgment of this as it was one of my reasons for starting Maison Venu. While living in India in 2017, I realized that many manufacturers in Jaipur worked with highly skilled artisans, but had access to mediocre materials. They were making beautiful products, hand embroidered quilts or 6 color block printed fabrics, but the material itself was average or low quality. One of our value’s at Maison Venu is to ensure the labor and materials come together to create a product that holds the value of the effort it takes to make each piece. We use a range of linen, linen cotton blends, and high-quality cotton‘s for our products. We are only a year old, and are continuing to source new materials for our products. We hope to add recycled materials to our collection in 2025.
Photo by Darina Todorova

CC: We’re so thrilled to be collaborating with you for this beautiful collection for Cailini Coastal. Tell us about the inspiration and your process in designing these pieces.
MV: It has been such a pleasure collaborating with the Cailini Coastal team. I am so thrilled and thankful for your trust in my business! The Cailini Stripe is a hand drawn, two color print. Block printing stripes can be challenging because you have to keep the block in a straight line for the entire length of the printing table, which is about 8 yards! 
The Cailini Stripe print feels quintessentially coastal and works into any space that Meg has brought to life on Cailini Coastal’s website. I love a contrasting edge as I think adding an additional color to the palette elevates a finished product. The scalloped trim breaks up the lines of the stripe print, making this collection of linens playful yet sophisticated.

CC: When you’re not designing textiles, what can we find you doing?
MV: When not designing textiles and running Maison Venu, you can find me by the water, at the farmer’s market, or spending time with friends and family. I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay and spend as many weekends as I can there with my parents and sisters. I love to cook and explore the farmers market for what’s in season. Cooking is a creative outlet for me. It’s time away from my phone that I’m focused entirely on something other than work!
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