In 1999, Annabel Astor, Sue Jones and Lucinda Waterhouse launched OKA Direct as a mail order interiors company. The first catalogue featured hand-crafted rattan accessories and storage, inspired by ancient designs from the Far East that had been adapted for modern life in the West, and endorsed by two leading British designers – Jane Churchill and Bruce Oldfield.
At the turn of the new millennium, OKA opened the doors to its first shop in Parson’s Green, West London. Over the next decade, OKA stores popped up in some of the UK’s prettiest market towns such as Harrogate, Broadway and Froxfield, along with concessions in high-end department stores. OKA’s famously realistic faux flowers made their debut.
The problem of the unpredictable British weather was solved with the arrival of OKA’s All-Weather Rattan outdoor furniture range. Made from aluminium and covered in woven synthetic ‘rattan’, it looks exactly like the real thing but can be left outside 365 days a year, come rain or shine.
In 2006, fragrance pioneer Cath Collins introduced her collection of beautiful room fragrances (and expert nose) to the OKA family. Now known as Scent For Living, the range of candles and fragrance diffusers offers unique scents reminiscent of evocative settings such as sun-filled English country gardens and snow-covered pine forests.
In 2010, OKA launched its own Interior Design Service for those who need a little help when decorating and furnishing their home. To date, the Interior Design Team have worked on projects of all shapes and sizes, both at home and overseas – from a water tower in London, to a chalet in Switzerland and a beach house in Antibes. This was also the year that OKA opened its impressive flagship store in Chelsea, showcasing the entire collection of furniture and accessories over three floors.
World-renowned British interior designer, Nicky Haslam, collaborated with OKA on a collection of gothick-inspired furniture and accessories, influenced by pieces in his own home. Following its success, a second collaboration arrived in 2015.
Sue Jones designs a ‘new meets old’ interiors scheme for a brand-new apartment in Battersea Power Station - an iconic industrial London landmark on the River Thames that is soon to be rebuilt and relaunched as the heart of a thriving and diverse London community.
2016 was an exciting year for collaborations. Floral stylist and author Willow Crossley launched her first collection of pre-tied faux flower arrangements, followed by a second collection the year after. OKA also partnered with Edward Bulmer Natural Paints to supply paints for our Interior Design Service projects and seasonal room sets instore.
The OKA app launched in 2018, making it much easier for customers to shop anywhere, anytime. The three Founders started designing their own individual prints for textiles, and the OKA magazine got bigger and better.
This year sees OKA celebrating 20 years at the forefront of luxury interiors and design. To mark this milestone, we’re crossing the pond and launching in the US – something that Annabel, Sue and Lucinda dreamed of doing from the very beginning. Let’s see what the next 20 years has in store for OKA…