This week’s exclusive interview is with Oz Lancaster, who has founded her own company and who has extensive experience working with a wide range of housebuilders and developers, working on design and interiors on a diverse collection of new homes projects.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your role in the new homes industry.
I’m founder and design director of OS Designs, a London-based interior design group with expertise in interior design, architectural design and space planning, and project management. We count private clients, bespoke developers and volume housebuilders among our clientele. In terms of the new homes industry, Weston Homes is one of our clients and we have worked on a variety of projects for the company including the phenomenal Platinum Penthouse at Stratford Riverside.
Can you tell us your training/career path that has led you to your current position please?
I have always had a keen interest in art and design. From a young age I would draw absolutely everything! But it was when I came across a copy of Architectural Digest at the age of seven in my native Cyprus that my life changed forever. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in terms of the fantastic designs the world has to offer, so I decided there and then that this was the field I wanted to enter.
My family were very supportive, so I furthered my skills by taking drawing classes. By the time I graduated school, there was no denying that design was (and still is) my passion, so I went on to study for a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Architecture and Interior Design at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus, later completing a Masters in Furniture Design at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College [since renamed Buckinghamshire New University].
From there I worked for a number of well-renowned interior design and architecture firms including Ikler Kilich, Henley Interiors and Oliver Hare International.
Having gained a wide breadth of experience, I was keen to make my mark on the interior design world, so founded OS Designs. We are now recognised as a leading interior design practice with an impressive roster of clients which range from diplomats and developers to ambassadors, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals. Everybody’s house is their castle, their empire, which they should be proud to show off. I strongly believe home is the reflection of an owner’s personality.
What is it about the role that you find most appealing/satisfying?
I genuinely love seeing my clients’ dreams turned into a reality. No ask is ever too small – which is why I will travel to the world’s best souks to obtain the perfect fabrics and tapestries for our schemes and I will always source the very best crystal.
In fact, we have quite the reputation for achieving what appears impossible. For example, one of our clients asked for the Sistine Chapel to be re-imagined in their exclusive London home!
I also pride myself on the fact that from the moment a client walks into our office, from inception to completion, we are there every step of the way.
Are there any projects/mentors in your career that have been particularly inspiring?
I have to say that one of my clients has been a major inspiration to me. He puts everything into perspective and has taught me to deal with problems head on, work through my to do list one by one, always give 100%,and to be individual and different from others – don’t just follow the trends, create your own trend !
In this industry, mentors are incredibly important. In my spare time, I give back by sharing the wisdom I have garnered in the interior design world with students from the Arucad Arkin University of Creative Arts and Design in north Cyprus.
Are there any major differences in working for very large housebuilding companies and SMEs?
We tend to get more enquiries from developers as they are trying to create unique developments. Working with an interior design and interior architecture team such as OS Designs from the beginning can improve the quality of the project hugely.
What can be done to encourage more women into roles in the industry?
I would say it’s important for women to always ask questions. I got huge experience by working on site. Always research your subject, design is all in the details.
Do you have any advice on education/job experience/training that may help potential applicants?
Education is a must to learn the very basics, but I would encourage anyone wanting to enter the interior design world to get as much on the job experience as possible. Nothing compares to firsthand experience. And to keep on drawing! I always have my sketchbook on me – you never know when inspiration will strike!