One Irish interior designer is receiving accolades for some major international commissions. So, what makes BRYAN O’SULLIVAN’s work so hot right now?
In the Bryan O’Sullivan Studio (BOS Studio) in London, seven of the team of architects, designers and product designers are, like their boss, Irish. The others are Italian, French, Korean, Spanish, British. O’Sullivan has impeccable credentials to lead this diverse creative team: before founding the studio he worked with supertalented designers including the late David Collins and Martin Brudnizki in London and Annabelle Selldorf in New York. But his is only one of the key Irish influences in the busy studio: the positive vibe is attributed to the regular motivational sessions hosted by O’Sullivan’s father, a former teacher and football coach for the Kerry team, whose team-building strategies have injected huge energy into the group. Morale is high and brainstorming is everyone’s – even the most junior – prerogative. “I want everyone, no matter their level, involved, everyone’s ideas can be good,” says O’Sullivan.
The studio is landing prestigious international commissions in a sector that’s highly competitive and notoriously fickle. Among the projects just off the drawing board are a family house for a prominent restaurateur in London, a Fifth Avenue apartment in New York and this historic early 1900s hôtel particulier in the 16th arrondissement in Paris, previously owned by LVMH’s Bernard Arnault, refurbished over a five-year period. O’Sullivan credits a mix of reasons for his rise as an interior designer on the international stage: the creative input from talent within the studio, the constant quest for new suppliers, different materials and finishes, and the emphasis on a large bespoke element in every project. This results in very little repetition across projects. It also means pinning down a BOS Studio signature design aesthetic is not straightforward. “The architecture and the client will inform the aesthetic to a large extent but if I were to isolate a thread in our work, I would say that a non-minimalist but pared-back luxury is our look, with 1930s and 1940s French and Italian designer elements.” The bespoke aspect is a big driver of the buzz in the office. “We design furniture and lighting and combine different elements and finishes in different ways. It’s fresh and clients know they are getting something very considered and unique.”
The impact of O’Sullivan’s influence is particularly evident in this very special, rather grand residence in Paris. His clients, who recently moved in, are art and furniture collectors and wanted to restore it to the highest level, and were involved in every design decision. The scope of the project was significant, entailing remodelling the layout at garden level, briefing the landscapers, sourcing garden sculptures and redesigning the relationship between house and garden. The studio relocated the swimming pool and, as well as making sensitive changes to the original flow between rooms, created ways to bring more light into the spaces. Period features, such as panelling and plasterwork in the grand salon and petit salon, were restored. Making a house on this scale adaptable to modern living prompted the addition of a lift, a service kitchen and a dumb waiter. Six ensuite bedrooms were refurbished and beautifully furnished, using both antiques and specially commissioned and bespoke pieces. In assimilating the level of detail and knowledge of French suppliers whose contributions are everywhere in the house, it’s unsurprising to learn of O’Sullivan’s experience of working in Paris under designer Luis Laplace for more than two years, which meant he had valuable supplier relationships in the city. However, the project folder contains details of more than 600 suppliers. The kitchen design is a case in point, combining stunning Italian marble, supplied and installed in Paris by stone experts Miller Brothers who are based in Ireland, porcelain lights by Rossignac, oak cabinetry and salvage tiles, Belgian bluestone, a table sourced in Battersea Antiques in London and bespoke chairs by Galerie Chahan in Paris.
O’Sullivan’s father is not the only familial influence on his way of working. He recalls how his maternal grandfather who left Ireland for the UK, eventually set up a successful building company there. O’Sullivan remembers him working intensely on a drawing board back at home in Kerry: “He became an architectural draughtsman and was really into design, latterly in the restoration of churches.”
As well as the projects in Paris, London and New York mentioned here, the studio has completed hotels in Spain and Portugal, new bars in The Connaught and The Berkeley hotels in London and nailed some interesting projects, residential and commercial, back home in Ireland. The studio has just finished 20 bedroom upgrades at Ballynahinch Castle where, this summer, O’Sullivan will celebrate his wedding to musician and now commercial director of the studio, James O’Neill, before embarking on the next phase of work there. Another Irish connection that must surely be part of his growing success.
The grand salon opens to a terrace overlooking the garden. The fireplace is a replica of the original at the other end of the room. The églomisé overmantel is by Rupert Bevan. BOS Studio sourced the Pierre Paulin 1960s sofas and designed the brass, glass and marble coffee tables and the side tables in glass and bronze. The volcanic stone wool-upholstered armchairs are by Stephane Parmentier. The rug is by Toyine Sellers; the velvet pouffes by Rossignac. The uplighter is by Jonathan Sainsbury.
The starting point for the design of the dining room was the leather and wool rug by Toyine Sellers. The wallpaper is by Zuber, and the chairs (each embroidered with a different fruit or vegetable) and table were designed by BOS Studio and made by Jonathan Sainsbury. The gesso and metal chandelier was also designed by BOS Studio. The drapes are by Downers, London; the antique sconces are French.
The BOS Studio-designed kitchen combines a number of natural materials including bronze, oak and Breccia Impériale marble (the island worktop, like all the stone in the house, is by Miller Brothers, Co Wicklow). The porcelain pendant lights are by Rossignac, the tiles are salvaged and the hob worktop is Belgian bluestone. The artwork is by Owen Moylan, a former schoolmate of Bryan O’Sullivan at Castleknock College.
The all-marble master bathroom designed by BOS Studio has a 1920s feel, inspired by the work of Adolf Loos, the predominantly Tuscan Green marble floor with white band, created in reverse for the walls. The chair is by Jean Royère; the antique lights sourced at the Marché Aux Puces.
The master bedroom sofa was found in Galerie 22 on the Pimlico Road in London and upholstered in pale blue. The lights are by Joseph Hoffman and the collection of vases on the Ico Parisi table is Lalique.
The decision to move the swimming pool to the centre of the house means that the kitchen is entered from the hall via an elegant bridge over the pool. The wow factor is enhanced with Turkish-style white Zebrino Light marble for the pool and cantilevered steps. The dramatic pendants were designed by BOS Studio; the wall lights are by Jamb.
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