Founded by Catherine Olasky and Max Sinsteden, who count Bunny Williams and Charlotte Moss as mentors, O&S creates classic, inspired spaces that blend the spirit of both sides of the Atlantic. Having worked for everyone from Bunny Williams to Charlotte Moss to David Easton, the duo went out on their own to launch a new firm and have since designed projects from New York to India. Today, they’re known for a style that incorporates the best of Manhattan and Mayfair equally, with a sensibility that’s traditional with a twist.
We spoke with the duo about their fresh takes on trad, their favorite projects around the world, the best advice they’ve ever received, and much more. See what they had to say, and be sure to shop a selection of their chic vintage and antique Chairish picks.
You both crossed paths in New York before reconnecting in London. Tell us about how the O&S design duo came to life.
We were introduced by a mutual mentor, Jose Carlino, who had trained Catherine when she started with Bunny Williams, and then later worked at David Easton’s, where I was his summer intern. When we reconnected in London a number of years later, we were both in a place where we were ready to start a business, and with so much common history and similar passions, we gave it a go! And here we are a decade later, with quadruple the number of employees and an exciting number of projects under our belts that have spanned years and countries and continents! It’s been an exciting journey.
As you mention, you’ve both worked under several design legends, including Bunny Williams and Charlotte Moss. How important do you think that was in shaping your career and what were your biggest takeaways from those experiences?
Working for Bunny and Charlotte, for us, was absolutely everything! Especially as young designers, it was amazing to learn how things are done properly from the outset—from running a project to picking threads for custom linens. We are so lucky to have these mentors and each of us respects the other’s so much, as well!
You have offices in Texas and New York but spent years working in London. How has British design influenced your personal style?
Without a doubt, our design style is more influenced by our time in London than any other chapter in our design educations. We are both enamored by the attention to detail and customization of fabrics, trimmings, finishes, paintwork, and pattern that derive from John Fowler’s work and dynasty. Bringing our American decorating education in business, running a project, working with clients, and searching the world for artisans together with the British style details previously mentioned and a modern take on the English country house is fundamental to our mutual design sensibilities.
Having done design projects all around the world, do you have a favorite place or type of project to work on?
For us it is the variety of our projects and our clients that brings us joy in our career. We have worked on a 17th-century stone farmhouse, a 1960s New York apartment, and a newly built highrise in India; each location brings with it a new set of challenges that ultimately begets a broadening of our design aesthetic. Working with an extensive range of clients is even more joyful for our continued business; a young woman’s first New York apartment, an octogenarian’s Greek revival home, and a growing family’s Texas ranch all present exciting ways of interpreting our work into the taste of our clients.
You both have a fresh take on traditional design. Do you tend to prefer designing traditional spaces versus more contemporary ones? How do they intersect?
Being passionate about design for us includes both ends of the spectrum. We probably gravitate toward a more traditional base in terms of architecture and its foundations of a space, but we love mid-century and modern design as well. We are always adding modern things into our own homes because we either love an artist, want to keep things fresh and unexpected, or just enjoy the yin-yang of new and old together.
Gorgeous antiques always show up in your work. What’s your personal philosophy when it comes to working with antiques and vintage pieces?
We always prefer to buy vintage or antique furniture and upholstery and give it a new life! Doing so is inherently sustainable as opposed to ordering newly made things from showrooms. When we do buy newly made pieces for our client we only commission things of the highest quality so that they in turn can pass through multiple hands and be used time and again.
On Chairish & Vintage Shopping…
What do you find most compelling about Chairish?
The vast selection, great price point, and responsive dealers
Are there any dream vintage/antique “gets” you wish you could have? What’s a dream piece for you?
What are three of your favorite pieces on Chairish now?
We love this set of two 1970s Zebrawood Eames lounge chairs with rosewood ottomans; this pair of Design Frères ‘Laque’ oxblood lacquer and brass nightstands; and this Georgian-style black and gilt metal and glass hall lantern.
Some Design Favorites…
Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room:
Low lighting with fun colors of taper candles, flowers, great scent, and music
Favorite decorating “cheap thrill:”
Stick blinds made in a week
Favorite iconic piece of vintage design:
Favorite paint color:
Favorite piece of decor in your home:
A painting of lilacs by Cecil Beaton
Favorite designer or artist from the past you most often turn to for inspiration:
Favorite style icon:
Design destination every creative should visit at least once:
Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:
“Get it done!”
Some Lifestyle Favorites…
Favorite vacation destination:
The Cotswolds and Stockholm
Favorite hotel that’s inspired your work while traveling:
The Wolseley in London
Favorite small museum:
Favorite Instagram accounts to follow:
Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift:
Something nice for breakfast
Ranunculus and chocolate cosmos
Favorite adult beverage:
Favorite way to unwind at home:
A bath, cocktails, and Netflix
Lead image: Read McKendree / JBSA