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Architect and Designer Co-founders of Oza Design, Özge Öztürk and Alexandre Simeray On Crafting A Private Sanctuary In The Heart of London

Architect and designer co-founders of Oza Design, Özge Öztürk and Alexandre Simeray. Photo: Edvinas Bruzas

Invisible from the bustling London street outside, this house – originally constructed as a small outbuilding at the rear of a majestic Cranleigh Gardens residence – is revealed behind a door framed by a classical stone portal. “As soon as you enter, you are taken to a tranquil oasis, far from the commotion and clamor of the surrounding metropolis,” says Özge Öztürk, who co-founded Oza Design alongside Alexandre Simeray. “The property saw various uses throughout its life and was once a gentleman’s snooker room.” Today this unique place, now owned by a young property developer, is embarking on a new chapter of its history.

The house is revealed behind a door framed by a classical stone portal. Photo: Edvinas Bruzas

“Conceived in a classical spirit, the interior no longer responded to the desire and the ambition of its present owner, who wished for a profound redesign through a scope of prestigious modernity,” remembers Öztürk. “The function remains primarily a house, but we also consider our client’s need to have a workspace and to host professional meetings and exclusive receptions.” Continuous art rails, silk-wool satin curtains to softly divide the different areas, and integrated sound and AV systems are some of the many elements that the Oza Design team took into consideration to create a flexible, bespoke space.

The dining room creates a transition of space between the living room and kitchen, and a deeper color palette helps produce a warm ambience. The table is from Oza Design, the Torii dining chairs from Viaduct, the thin pendant light by Juniper design. Photo: Edvinas Bruzas

“We carefully designed and curated everything, from the wooden paneling to the furnishings and accessories, through our personal interpretation of modern luxury,” says Öztürk. “This project conveys a peaceful sanctuary feeling and emotional design applied with the utmost in sophisticated detailing.” The flooring was custom patterned out of discarded British oak pieces, which were naturally finished to avoid chemical treatments. The walls are clad with clay from Clayworks, a natural material that helps to regulate the humidity and temperature, reducing HVAC use in the summers and winters. Beyond their sustainable function, the walls also play with light, creating shadows and depth at different times of day.

Adjacent to the study room, the master ensuite can be accessed via a concealed door. It overlooks the front garden. The Bellerophon bench is from Oza Design’s first collection Warrior. Photo: Edvinas Bruzas

Oza Design’s first furniture and lighting collection adorns every nook, making the house truly one of a kind. “We called it ‘Warrior’ because this name evokes a keen and delicate fight … with passion, courage, ambition, and persistence against all the obstacles that stood in our way,” describes Öztürk. “It reflects the inspirations coming from our deepest selves, our histories, and the emotions that these make us feel. For these reasons, this collection creates the forms of the present and the future by standing firmly and proudly on the heritage gifted to us from our ancestors. With all these thoughts … we dedicated our first collection to the ‘warriors’ of today, who struggle against all sorts of impossibilities in the real world.”

The living room has a clay vase by AYTM, candle by August & Piers, artefacts by Evoke, and clay walls by Clayworks. Photo: Edvinas Bruzas

Filled with natural light, the living room features a large, functional, integrated cabinet that spans the full width of a wall, with a recessed dark-metal ribbon forming the base and concealing a series of drawers that curve inward to hold a minimalist fireplace. Light oak panels fold away into the depth of the joinery, revealing an integrated, mirror-backed bar and a media unit when opened. “Every material comes in its raw appearance enhancing its natural beauty,” says Öztürk.

The transition between the ground and first floor is seamless. The wall paneling and flooring is continued through the new modern staircase with glass handrail. Photo: Edvinas Bruzas

A deeper color palette characterizes the dining room, while the kitchen is a study in contrasts. Next to the cellar, Oza Design created a bespoke oak plinth, which holds a 19th-century artifact: an iron currency piece from the Mfunte peoples of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sourced from art gallery Evoke London. To transition seamlessly from the ground floor to the first, the same wall paneling and flooring were used through the new modern staircase that leads to the open-plan study, which can easily be transformed into a room if needed by adding a partition wall. Accessed via a concealed door, the ensuite overlooks the front garden and receives natural light all day long. An integrated bathroom is framed by a smart screen that can be opaque and was imagined as a celebration of the body, and to facilitate a relaxing bath ritual.

The bathroom is framed by a smart screen that can be opacified at will. The shower and bath are presented onto a marble pedestal directly in front of the bed. In the master bedroom, bedding is by The White Company. Photo: Edvinas Bruzas

“The design of this home is an attempt to convey feeling and emotion through space and materiality,” says Öztürk. “Here, the essential is invisible to the eyes. We wanted to express a beautifully crafted balance between light and shadow, feminine and masculine, traditional and unusual.” Going into every detail of this project while tying together the architecture, interiors, and art, Oza Design collaborated with curator Maria Abramenko to select pieces by Sam Lock and Tycjan Knut from Cadogan Gallery.

In the living room, an Aeneas lounge chair sits by a Perseus bronze side table, Odysseus sofa, and Prometheus wall light from Oza Design’s first collection, Warrior OPPOSITE Architect and designer co-founders of Oza Design, Özge Öztürk and Alexandre Simeray. Photo: Edvinas Bruzas

In addition to this distinctive home, Oza has also completed two refurbishment projects in the UK: the Richmond Theatre in London and the Grand Opera House in York. “Nine years ago, I left Turkey to realize my dream of making a career here in London,” recalls Öztürk. “It has been 12 years since I met Alexandre in Istanbul at the end of our Masters of Architecture program. We established Oza Design based on an approach that blends our two different cultures – from the East and the West. Since then, we have created our own language and I think it gives us a stronger identity and a different vision both in our lives and with our studio. We invested everything we had – including ourselves, of course – in our work and today we have unique types of projects, every year expanding to different countries such as Turkey and soon the US. To us, Oza is more than an architecture and design studio – it’s a complete creative vision.”

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia Living

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