It’s not paradise, we definitely have our moments,” laughs Bryan O’Sullivan, referring to his marriage and working relationship to husband James O’Neill who is also commercial director at his studio BOS Studio, in London.
“But there’s great synergy between us and we always have each other’s backs and joint best interests at heart.”
Plus, he tells me, James has an incredible eye and isn’t afraid to tell him when something ‘looks horrendous’.
“He’d never get offended,” says 35-year-old James.
“Unlike some designers, Bryan isn’t protective of his vision or solitary in his design approach — everyone on our team has a voice and input.”
It helps that the couple share the same design aesthetic.
But asked to describe their style, a long pause ensues.
“Compelling, elegant, timeless,” pipes James. “Oh, that’s so vague.”
Eventually, they settle on an approach: one that aims to bring a calmness and functionality to a space.
They are not given to flashes of fads or trends but instead bring a fresh perspective to each project, designing much of the bespoke aspects for which their studio has become known.
“We tend to look backwards,” explains Bryan.
“We’re classical in our inspiration but probably more contemporary in our execution and never like to repeat our work. We lean towards the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s and that timeless French and Italian architecture but strip it back to a more simplified version.”
Their respective career history blend — 38-year-old Bryan trained under the eye of the late Irish interior designer David Collins and Swedish interior architect Martin Brudnizki while James worked in the music and fashion industry before joining the firm — is paying off, it seems.
In January, Bryan was named Elle Décor Interior Designer of the Year, a hugely prestigious accolade in the industry.
Their ascent up the interior industry ranks since Bryan opened the studio in 2013 has been deft and assured with a roll call of prestigious clients and international commissions that include a refurb of the new bar in London’s The Connaught and The Berkeley hotels, a historic house in Paris and a Fifth Avenue apartment in New York.
The townhouse in Paris, while both agree was an incredible experience, was also the most challenging, liaising with over 45 trades people with just basic French.
“It definitely gave us a few grey hairs,” laughs James.
The recent refurb of the five-star Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, however, was a much calmer affair and one close to their hearts since it was the location of their wedding last summer.
The Irish connection is one they credit for much of their inspiration. Wherever possible, downtime is spent in Bryan’s native Kenmare in Co Kerry.
“Getting home does wonders for your creative brain,” he says.
In fact, it was a trip home that inspired the palette for a residential ski chalet project in France — the autumnal colours on a hill walk of the Kerry mountainside setting the whole tone.
Ironically, the couple’s own home is unfinished, thanks