The story of OKA will be forever linked to the tale of three friends – Annabel Astor, Sue Jones and Lucinda Waterhouse – and their travels around the world in search of unique finds, leading them in 1999 to found the company we know today. It was a journey of discovery that resulted in a lifetime of treasured memories. Sue’s experiences have helped her to build up a style that’s authentically her own, the influence of which can be felt in every aspect of the brand to this day.
For the penultimate episode in series one of House of Tales, design journalist Bethan Ryder explores the relationship between OKA and the evolution of Sue’s own style, visiting her at home to discuss everything from the origins of our popular blue-and-white porcelain collection to the consummate host’s devotion to keeping an “open house” which is always ready to welcome guests. “When people come here, they feel very at home,” says Sue. “I always think it's difficult for guests, they're at a disadvantage, really, they're not in their own environment. And you've got to make doubly sure that they feel really comfortable where they are.”
Step past the ancient Roman colonnade at the front of Sue’s house and into her world, where you’ll see that she and her husband are dedicated to refining a beautiful space of their own, a renovated barn in the countryside which today has a beautifully cosmopolitan yet lived-in feel. This is thanks in part to the pair’s predilection for collecting artefacts, whether old, new, or, as Sue puts it, “absolutely useless”. It’s an approach to interiors which sees ageing as becoming better with time; proof of living well. You need only look around – at the carefully restored Elizabethan portraiture, the perfectly faded kilim draped over the dining table, and the sofa piled high with plump cushions, to feel the connection.
I want my home to be comfortable, welcoming, practical in some ways… I’ve loved being able to help people enhance their homes through OKA because I love mine so much. I think it’s a place where you feel you’re happy and safe.