They say a lot can happen in a year, and in 2021 that adage has really been put to the test. At times it has been turbulent, but amidst the uncertainty there have been moments worth celebrating: vaccinations, treasured time with family and friends, and a greater appreciation for the little things in life.
There has been much to cheer about at OKA, too. In a year of stops and starts, we have kept moving. From the opening of our first stores in the US to exciting interior design projects and events, we’ve packed a lot into the past 12 months. Before we look ahead at what’s to come in 2022, read on to discover our highlights from 2021.
To the joy of our expert team of interior designers, this year afforded us a host of exciting new projects to sink our creative teeth into. Among them was a London townhouse for TV personality Binky Felstead, whose first family home was transformed into an inviting space that combined country style with city living. Using modern elements that mirrored the property’s urban roots alongside Felstead’s own collection of antiques, our team designed a house brimming with character, without compromising on the practical elements essential to a family home.
From London to the Cotswolds, where a derelict barn nestled in an enchanting corner of the English countryside set the stage for a truly unique project. Actress Donna Air enlisted the help of our Interior Design team to transform this former tractor showroom into a contemporary home. With an “old-meets-new” brief, the team set to work selecting OKA pieces that blended harmoniously with the building’s integral features: exposed brick walls, warm Cotswolds stone and a staircase rescued from an old Spitfire factory. The result is a peaceful space peppered with pattern, colour and texture.
In October, we brought a slice of OKA to London’s Clerkenwell, where we transformed Old Sessions House into a hub for interior design lovers. In celebration of the launch of our Autumn Collection, we reimagined six rooms in the Grade II listed former courthouse, bringing them to life with our latest pieces. We kicked off the event with a private VIP dinner hosted by Stylist and Editor Sophie Goodwin, who welcomed 22 friends of OKA to enjoy a three-course dinner and drinks. Over the next few days, we opened the doors to hundreds of design lovers, showcasing our latest launch and giving them a sneak peek of our Spring 2022 collection.
Guests also enjoyed a series of inspirational masterclasses hosted by industry experts: Florist Willow Crossley led a flower arranging workshop using the Bunched by OKA Collection; Event Stylist Fiona Leahy shared her top tablescaping tips; and Founders of Hum London, Hermione and Ellie Gee, led a lampshade painting workshop, which saw guests put their own stamp on an OKA card shade. If you missed out, don’t worry – we’ve got lots more events in store for 2022. Sign up to our email newsletter to receive updates.
In 2021, we continued our partnership with the Trussell Trust, an anti-poverty charity that supports two-thirds of the UK’s food banks. To help them provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, we hosted a number of fundraising events throughout the year. A charity auction held at Bonhams was among the highlights, seeing three bespoke Tailored by OKA sofas go under the hammer. For the project, we asked three expert Interior Designers to put their stamp on our Egerton love seat, with a simple brief: to be as bold as they dared. You can read more about the creative process here.
We also took part in Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving for which we donated £20 for every order made that day, in-store and online. During the Christmas period, we hosted a series of festive events in our stores, the proceeds of which went to charity. Guests enjoyed a watercolour workshop hosted by Artist Clementina Zegna, a gin-tasting experience with Cotswolds Distillery, and a gift-wrapping masterclass with Interior Stylist Hannah Bullivant. In total, OKA has raised £60k for the Trussell Trust since our partnership began in 2020.
Ever since OKA launched in 1999, the Founders have dreamed of opening a store in America, and in 2021 we made that vision a reality – not once, but twice. In the spring, we added Houston to our list of OKA destinations, opening the doors of our very first store outside of the UK. After a successful introduction to the Texas design community, we opened our second US outpost in Dallas in the autumn. Watch this space for our next move: we’ll be opening our third US store in Westport, Connecticut in 2022.
This year we unveiled two new collections in spring and autumn, both of which featured exciting new pieces and fresh takes on our OKA icons. Our Stafford Range was expanded to include a new bench and dining chair with arms, bringing greater flexibility to the modern dining room or kitchen. For the drinks’ cabinet, we introduced a new iteration of our beloved Pulcinella glassware, reimagining the playful prints in champagne flute form. We also built on our Chinoiserie Range with the Gonglin Cabinet, a beautiful hand-painted piece inspired by traditional Chinese artworks.
Alongside our two seasonal collections, we were thrilled to partner with Parisian Interior Designer Vincent Darré on a capsule collection of homeware. Loved among the world’s most stylish circles for his eccentric designs, Darré is heavily influenced by Dadaism and Surrealism, seeking off-the-wall references to inspire his creations. For the collaboration, he drew on the Neoclassical era and ruins of romantic gardens from the 18th century to create four flamboyant pieces.
We love to see our customers getting creative with their OKA pieces, and our #MyOKAHome hashtag on Instagram lets us see them in action. Among our favourite posts of 2021 was Sara Quaglia’s at @saraandcatherinestales (pictured, right), who breathed new life into her 700-year-old English country cottage with our Fenghuang Table Lamp, Iro Pleated Linen Lampshade and Tarsia Cushion Cover. Another highlight was from television presenter Louise Roe, who shared a snap on her interiors account @louiseroehome of her beloved Coleridge sofas in her London townhouse (pictured, left). We also loved Alice Grace’s “happy place” – a corner of her home decorated with several OKA pieces, which she shared on @alicegraceinteriors (pictured, centre). From our Kraakware Ceramic Chinese Table Lamp to our Stafford Dining Chair, Abaneri Side Table and Bamarre Mirror, we can see why she loves the space so much.
We’d love to see how you style your OKA pieces, too – follow us @oka and use the hashtag #MyOKAHome to share your snaps with us.