Meet the interior designer: Bryan O’Sullivan

Bryan O'Sullivan (Photo by Mark Cocksedge)

We talk lighting, fireplaces and interiors inspiration with the brilliant interior architect Bryan O’Sullivan…

Bryan O’Sullivan is an established interior architect, who has worked with industry leaders including Annabelle Selldorf and David Collins. He established the Bryan O’Sullivan Studio in London in 2013 and his team now creates amazing interiors for private residences as well as hotels, chalets and even luxury yachts. In recent years the studio has gone from strength to strength, winning the Elle Decoration Interior Designer of the Year award for 2020. Here’s our Q&A…

How did you get started in interior design?

My interest in design and interiors started when I was fairly young. My grandfather was hotelier and a self-taught architect and designer, and as a kid I used to spend time with him drawing in his studio. I loved art, and along with my parents’ work with restaurants and hotels, it became a natural step to combine this love of aesthetics with creating spaces people enjoyed. I feel lucky that this early interest has led to where I am today, gaining experience with some great designers with whom I’ve had the honour to work; Annabelle Seldorf, David Collins, and Martin Brudnizki.

The Green hotel, Dublin (Photo: James MacDonald)

Apartment on 5th Avenue, NY (Photo: James MacDonald)

Chalet, Courcheval (Photo: James MacDonald)

How would you describe your interior design style?

The words I always come back to are timeless and elegant, as I find these qualities help create a beautiful atmosphere.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I take my inspiration from many places, whether in London with the tremendous art scene, or travelling to Marrakech, Istanbul or Venice. Layers of history prompt new ideas, and I always keep my eyes open, for example I find furniture from the ‘30s and ‘40s hugely inspirational.

How does lighting play a part in your interiors?

Lighting is incredibly important in all interiors. I start with the space planning, then the finishes – flowing and walls – and then look at lighting.

Clayton Hotel, Cambridge (Photo: James MacDonald)

Clayton Hotel, Cambridge (Photo: James MacDonald)

Which recent projects are you particularly proud of?

We love all of our projects, so it is hard to choose, each one has its own particular journey. The Clayton Hotel in Cambridge is proving popular with locals and visitors. We loved creating the public spaces there, bringing combining contemporary sensibilities with rich Persian touches, referencing the hotel’s namesake and playful elements to make this a new destination, whether for a coffee, a cocktail or dinner.

Clayton Hotel, Cambridge (Photo: James MacDonald)

Do you have any tips for creating a 'cosy' space?

My top tip to create a cosy atmosphere is to include a beautiful fire and fireplace: it immediately transforms a room. Many spaces don’t allow for natural fires, or they simply aren’t practical. We work with a brilliant supplier who produces the most realistic log-fires that are actually gas. The effect in the room is comforting, and it’s well worth seeking out the best you can. In the bedroom, a place you want to feel calm and oasis-like, I recommend working closely on lighting to balance layers of effect and functionality. A decorative pendant light in the centre to create atmosphere, combined with well-placed standard lamps, and precise reading lights, can really help make the space inviting.

Finally, do you have a favourite Pooky light?

I love the Starsky chandelier. It’s reminiscent of a 1970’s Venini chandelier and I love that era.

You can view more of Bryan's work on the Bryan O'Sullivan Studio website. And you can follow them on Instagram.