Design & Decoration S01 ep3: George Freeman, Freeman Interiors, [Sydney]
Interview with George Freeman
I come sort of shaken from the tree of Lawrence Knoll . Florence and Hans Knoll established Knoll in the 40's in the United States. She studied under Mies at RMIT, grew up with Saarinen in Cranbrooke. Hans Knoll is German and went to the U.S. in the 40's and established a furniture company and they met and she organised that the furniture that they would manufacture was designed by her contemporaries - Montoya, Saarinen, Van Der Rohr, Rissem...
KM: What is George Freeman and Associates?
For me it involves solving people's problems, how they live, how they work,
how they are made happy.
I started playing with interior design in 1959 and then I sort of retired to paint
for about 5 or 6 years and then started seriously on a career path in about
I worked for Knoll in New York and so I come sort of shaken from the tree of
Florence Knoll. Florence and Hans Knoll established Knoll in the 40s in the
United States. She studied under Mies at RMIT, grew up with Saarinen
Cranbrooke. Hans Knoll is German and went to the United States in the 40s
and established a furniture company and they met and she organised that the
furniture that they would manufacture, was designed by her contemporaries
and compatriots and so she got Harry Montoya, Aaro Saarinen, Mies Van De
Rohe, Jens Rissem all those...
KM: That movement
Yes, that movement to design for Knoll and that is for um... and in that group
was George Nelson and the Eames's who went off to Herman Miller.
Knoll was given a project, for the Bank of New South Wales and when I was
hired this project was part of my portfolio and I came here and fell in love and
so I rearranged my life to come and live here.
Half of our work is working with old buildings, modernised possibly in spirit
because peoples’ lives are different than they were when buildings were built in
the 50s or 60s or in the middle of the 19th century – it’s another world.
There was a period in the late 70s and 80s when my former partner and I were
really fashionable. People would come to be done.
Part of the process is finding out who they are because when you start the
design process they are strangers and so you really have to investigate them
very carefully and find out how they blow their nose and fold their underwear.
Or before you can really do something appropriate.
We buy paintings from time to time, we will completely furnish houses to lock-
up stage so that all cutlery and silverware (KM under) all the glasses, you
know coffee in the refrigerator, and Skippy peanut butter on the shelf.
People come to us because they have seen what we have done - they are
familiar with perhaps the attitude of our work. You never do that for them, you
do what is...
KM: What suits them
Exactly, suits them. And you it only happens when you meet them, meet their
space, know their needs, get an idea of who they are and how they want to be.
Then you start working for them, then you start making things for them.
KM: What is different about retail compared to normal domestic spaces?
It is a sales tool and it is totally a background for other things as...
KM: So the focus is the product.
The product! Yes, the Focus is the product
KM: So what is the focus for a normal room then?
The people who are in a sense, the product.
We’ve recently completed a house for a couple who have an extensive art
collection. They had a lot of furniture, some of it they wanted to keep, some of
it we sort of thought they oughtn’t keep, but they did and we recovered it, and
we went to see it the other day, after not being there for a year and they have
been in it now for a year and a bit and it is wonderful, because they have filled
it with their life. What we had given them was a terrific
When you first hand it to them you go through the momentary pain of their
coming in and messing it up and dirtying it.
Yes, yes it does. And you go "oh". It is great fun and it is very exciting and
they do become friends.
A funny thing was having to do a survey of a couple’s wardrobe - orthodox
Jews - and opening the top of her section of the wardrobe and there were a
whole series of heads with all her wigs. And I had never seen that before.
KM: Did you try them on, honestly?
KM: Just one, which one was that one.
I am serious about the wigs, but I did not try any on.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: George Freeman, Freeman Interiors, Sydney