Founded by siblings Patrick and Monica Melancon in 2007, Melancon Ortega Designs is a full-service Architecture and Interior Design firm. Located in the heart of Uptown New Orleans, MOD is a highly collaborative firm that aims to create seamless relationships between exterior and interior conditions.
Melancon Ortega Designs specializes in a wide variety of contextually significant architectural projects, including new construction, historical restoration, and renovation. MOD Interior Designs crosses a wide variety of projects reflecting numerous styles such as mid-century modern, traditional, southern, and French Provincial. Similar to the culture of New Orleans, MOD finds beauty in combining pieces from different regions whether they peak an interest, or speak to a personal memory.
At MOD, we believe that each project should reflect a unique set of visions developed throughout the relationship between the client and our team of architectural and interior design leaders. Our goal is that through the collaboration between new world design techniques and old world sensibilities, our clients will see architecture and interior design surpass time.
Tell me a little bit about your business. Why did you two create MOD, and what is your mission/goal?
PM: At the beginning of the 2000’s, Monica and I were each working with icons of architecture and design – Peter Trapolin and Gerrie Bremmerman, respectively. While we both gleaned much about composition and craftsmanship from our former mentors, we also knew we wanted more autonomy and the ability to expand on our collective abilities and training. By 2007, we were ready to join forces and to see what we could create. Luckily, the client stream has been steady, generous, and open-minded about both pragmatics and aesthetics. Off the cuff, I would say that our mission is to create timeless beauty, combined with personalized flair that is customized to each client with whom we collaborate.
Why should people hire architects to design or remodel their homes (as opposed to hiring a draftsman or any other kind of professional)?
PM: Hiring an architect or designer is not a necessity, but it’s also not a frivolous luxury. An architect or designer -- ideally both are hired for various portions of the collaboration -- can guide the homeowner through every phase, from the initial design idea (conception) through construction completion (birth). Architect/designer teams become the communicator, diplomat, aesthetic confidante, constructability liaison, and sometimes even the therapist to get an owner through the complexities of undertaking a project. A draftsman can also be a valuable asset in the equation; however, often times they are mostly concerned with pragmatics and expedience.
MM: I would say for their accessibility to resources and knowledge of new trends in the industry. And, of course, a design team can be a valuable asset in creating a beautiful environment for their families.
When working with your clients and creating your designs, do you ever consider resale value or do you design strictly based on the needs/desires of your clients? What do you think is important to considering when thinking about resale value?
PM: Inevitably, the factor of potential resale always plays a large part in our designs. While we feel what we are creating appears to have more to do more with art than math or science, the reality is that all three play an equal role in the manifestation of a design.
MM: From the standpoint of interior design, a large part of what we install is movable, so if the house should sell, furniture, rugs, and in some cases lighting, can be moved along with the client. If I’m working with a client on construction, then the conversation usually comes up. So, for example, the types of textiles we select for a pool house or a 3rd floor renovation, may not be the same price point as what is selected for a master bathroom or powder room, in order to average out pricing on selections.
When working with historic properties, what's your greatest challenge?
PM: Appeasing the neighbors! Kidding, but not really. What we do is so subjective and many times, while the client is ecstatic about modifying or refining something, there may be a neighbor who has a very vocal opinion otherwise. We do try to be sensitive to that, but at the end of the day if the city approves the design and the homeowner loves it, that has to be our primary concern. Second greatest challenge, but not as glamorous: termite abatement and water management. I always say that New Orleanians who invest in older properties are real patrons of design and really love this city. It is not inexpensive to restore a historic property, but thank God we continue to have patrons that see the value and necessity in doing so.
MM: I would say spatial constraints. But when you work with a good architect, those obstacles can usually be worked out. Fortunately, I usually get to work with my brother on projects, so that helps. For instance, a trend now is to have a large kitchens which opens up to a sizable family rooms. Not all of the old houses have the capacity for that, so it takes creative solutions to make that work.
How would you describe your design style?
PM: I think the style of the firm would be classified as transitional, which is a cleaner version of classical but not all the way to the extreme of uber-modern/contemporary.
MM: I think my client’s needs and lifestyles have the greatest impact on how I design, with regard to how formal or casual a design will be. But no matter the style, what is consistent is my affinity toward the use fabrics with natural fibers, such as linen, cotton, and silk. In our tropical climate, these types of fabrics give a feeling of comfort and sophistication, and can work in a variety of compositions.
What are your favorite trends?
PM: Light, medium and dark color compositions – with one of those three being visibly dominant and the other two subtly reinforcing it. The trend of thin-gauge iron windows is another that is a beautiful accent to historic or contemporary buildings.
MM: I love that clients are back on board with wallpaper! I don’t think there are many things as fun and versatile as wallpaper. With companies like Phillip Jefferies, Stroheim, and Schumacher, the possibilities are endless. You can add a simple grass cloth to a den, or a bold damask to a dining room and make a tremendous impact.
What are your least favorite trends?
PM: Quick and dirty faux-historic construction.
MM: Engineered flooring. I understand the need for an affordable wood substitute, but don’t like to see it go into beautiful old homes.