George Freedman is one of Sydney’s most admired interior designers.
Working fluidly within the corporate, commercial retail and residential architectural context, George Freedman occupies a a unique position within architecture and interior design in Sydney.
He is a lover of vivid, varied and inventive colours. However whilst he is often stereotyped as a gifted colorist, with skill in the formulation of distinctive palettes, he also demonstrates a selective ability to manipulate essential form.
Freedman’s early work in Sydney was mainly commissioned by corporate customers, but he quickly established a reputation and wide connections.
He has the ability and courage to reinvent himself with each new project. With this rare talent a multitude of spaces have found their realization.
George has developed an inimitable approach to interior design over the past 45 years years, recognizable for its relentless attention to detail, inventive use of materials and commitment to creating spatial interventions rather than merely applying surface decoration.
He has now orchestrated numerous commissions across varied design typologies, each maintaining a paramount standard.
Few Australian interior designers and architects have realized such a legacy, and fortunately his conjuring of space continues to materialize in enchanting, idiomatic clarity.
Brief Overview about George Freedman
George joined Knoll International’s Planning Unit in New York with responsibility for all the Knoll International’s globally based corporate clients interior fitouts
In 1969, Knoll International sent George to Sydney ( upon the recommendation of Peddle Thorp & Walker Architects ), to help design the Executive Offices and Boardroom accommodation for the Bank of New South Wales ( now Westpac).
Upon the Bank of NSW project’ completion – he stayed in Australia and formed a partnership ( both personally and professionally ) with Neville Marsh, eventually establishing Marsh Freedman Associates in 1973.
Specialising in residential interiors, Neville Marsh ( 1931 – 1994), formerly with the British Colour Council, was also widely known for his colour work.
In the ensuing years, George has built a strong profile, with an impressive portfolio of work across a number of sectors.
Marsh Freedman Associates ( MFA ), would go on to foster the careers of many young architects and designers. ( Bill McMahon, Arthur Collin, Steven Varady, Rob Puflett, Tim Allison, Sam Marshall, Andrew Stanic, Iain Halliday, Ralph Rembel and a number of other key designers setting the pace today ), they all trained in the legendary interior design office of Marsh Freedman Associates in the early 1980s
Later Neville Marsh retired in 1986, and moved to Italy. He died in 1994
In 2002, the MFA practice became Freedman Rembel ( in partnership with Ralph Rembel ) and has been recognised for its outstanding interior design, with projects including the refurbishment of the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, and stage set designs for the Sydney Dance Company.
In 2010 Freedman joined PTW Architects as Head of Interior Design.
1968 Neville Marsh Interiors established
1969 George Freedman arrives in Australia
1970 George Freedman joins Neville Marsh Interiors
1972 Partnership Pacific Sydney
1973 Marsh Freedman Associates established
…..Her Majesty’s Theatre Sydney collaboration with Syd Baggs Architect
1974 Hoyts Theatres Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth
1980 Five Ways Fusion Fashion Boutique Sydney
1981 Price Waterhouse and Partners Sydney
…..Kinselas Theatre Restaurant collaboration with Glenn Murcutt and Michael Davies
1983 Leightons Holdings Sydney
…..Order Imports Sydney
1984 Ralph Rembel joins Marsh Freedman Associates
1985 State Bank of New South Wales Executive Offices, Board Accommodation and Garden Level
1986 Powerhouse Museum Sydney
…..Apple Computers collaboration with Allen Jack and Cottier Sydney
1987 George Freedman Architects established
…..Claude’s Restaurant Sydney
1988 Australian Pavilion Expo ’88 collaboration with Anchor Mortlock and Woolley
…..Kraanerg set design for Sydney Dance Company
1988 Bilson’s a la Carte Restaurant Sydney
1990 Arredorama Knoll Showroom Sydney
1991 Marsh Freedman Associates becomes George Freedman Associates
…..Soft Bruising set design for Sydney Dance Company
1993 Penrith Panthers Leagues Club collaboration with Gazzard Sheldon Architects
…..Macquarie Bank Executive Offices collaboration with Allen Jack and Cottier
1994 Neville Marsh dies
1996 Ralph Rembel becomes Partner at George Freedman Associates
1998 Ampersand Restaurant Sydney
2000 Mythologia set design for Sydney Dance Company
2002 George Freedman Associates becomes Freedman Rembel
2003 Queen Victoria Building Master Plan collaboration with Anchor Mortlock and Woolley Sydney
2004 Medina Grand Perth
…..Quay Restaurant Sydney
2005 Freedman Rembel wins RAIA Commendation for Interior Architecture 2005
2005 Elizabeth Bay Trust spaces exhibition
2007 Buon Ricordo Ristorante, Sydney
…..PBL Ground Floor Lobby, Sydney
…..Qualia Resort, Hamilton Island, Queensland
2009 Elizabeth Apartments
2010 Joined PTW as Head of Interior Design
2013 Curates dedece’s Knoll 75th anniversary showroom
George Freedman’s Chronology
George Henry Freedman was born in 1936 in Brooklyn New York
He grew up in Brooklyn
He attended Grammar School at Brooklyn Public School 167 from 1943 to 1948
He attended Manhattan High School from 1949 to 1953
He studied architecture at Syracuse University from 1953 to 1958.
Architectural Work in the USA
During the 1960s he worked as an interior designer for architect Ely Jacques Kahn, / Kahn & Jacobs Architects, New York – whose work spanned the decades from Art Deco to the post-War International Style.
His work with Kahn & Jacobs included the interiors for the First Class lounge areas in the American Airlines passenger terminal at John F Kennedy Airport, formerly Idlewild Airport ( with Robert Jacobs) .
Between 1961 to 1965 George then pursued his passion for travel and painting for the next five years living and working in Ibitha, Amsterdam and London – exhibiting his Art in Amsterdam and Brussels in 1963 and 1964.
Project work in the UK
In 1965 Freedman resumed his career as an interior designer with Tandy, Halford and Mills in London
Bovril Group. Enfield
Beecham Pharmaceuticals, UK offices
George returns to the USA and joins Knoll’s International Planning Unit in New York – 1968
His projects included the US pavilion for the 1970 Osaka World Fair and Price Waterhouse Offices in Buffalo, New York.
In keeping with the historic 1967 moon landing and subsequent space explorations, the U.S. pavilion had a space age theme
The interior was inflated like a balloon, and made of fabric and cables. Artifacts such as the Apollo 11 space capsule were displayed to demonstrate NASA’s achievements, and the centerpiece was a large piece of moon rock brought back by astronauts from Apollo 12 in 1969.
George designed the V.I.P dignitaries hospitality areas within the Pavilion.
George comes to Australia for Knoll International’s “Planning Unit”
In 1969, Knoll sent Freedman to Sydney to design the Executive Offices and Board accommodation for the Bank of New South Wales, now Westpac ( at the recommendation of the then Peddle Thorp & Walker Architects ).
The Bank of New South Wales, was Australia’s first bank and operated from 1817 until 1982 when it became part of Westpac
His goal was to ” Manhattanise and Internationalise ” one of Australia’s oldest banks’ Corporate Headquarters
His training in the formidable commercial environment of New York in the 1960’s was under the sagacious guidance of Florence Knoll.
This preparative association gave him the necessary ammunition to tear down the provincial bastions he encountered in his first Sydney project for the Bank of New South Wales
In 1970, 341 George Street ceased to be the Bank of NSW’s Head Office and it lost its star tenant.
Thereafter it has been the premier CBD branch of NSW, now Westpac
During the projects duration George met Nevile Marsh and they quickly became good friends
As the Bank of NSW project was finalising, George decided to remain working in Australia and worked 50 % for Knoll International and 50% for the then leading interior designer Leslie Walford Interiors.
A short time later in 1970, he started working with Neville at Neville Marsh Interiors ( est in 1968 )
About Neville Marsh ( 1931 – 1994 )
Neville was born in Perth in 1931
After High School ( 1934- 1939 ) he followed family tradition to go on work on the land at his uncle’s farm at Kogenup in South Western Australia ( Near Albany ) .
But raising cattle on the wide plains of Australia’s south west did not really hold his attention , so he moved back to Perth
Neville Marsh became a strong, vigorous, progressive West Australian decorator without any particular allegiance to a period or a fashion.
He moved from Perth to Sydney, and worked at David Jones for a few years
He had always been surrounded by pleasant objects in the home and stimulated to an appreciation of colour and form in an international setting.
Surrounded by an eclectic collection of fabulous stock from art nouveau lamps to Finnish chairs, all housed in a Georgian showroom, Neville Marsh was one of the new breed of decorators bringing exciting design and refreshing outlook to Australian homes.
In the seven years he was established in his own business he left his distinctive mark on houses, theatres, and office in all states.
Very much a part of decorator Neville Marsh’s establishment, Ray Siede’s brilliant modern work was uncompromisingly keyed in to the immediate scene. He used colour boldly and well and combined it with stainless steel and black leather in a stylish blend of texture.
Originally from South East Victoria where he spent some of his childhood on a farm, Siede began working with the Myer Emporium in Melbourne where he received his basic training in colour co-ordination and design.
He also attended Art courses at the Melbourne Technical College, including painting, fashion drawing, industrial and textile design and pottery making. He was interested in amateur theatrical, designing clothes and in carpentry – all which enriched his talents as an interior designer.
In 1964 Ray came to Sydney and decided to try out the ability he felt he had – with remarkable results.
He preferred a stark uncluttered line in both architecture and room planning but compromises by using colour to offset the style of the room.
If the room appears to devoid of character and bare of exciting furniture shapes he uses bold flamboyant colours, but if the furniture is intricate and complex or complemented by important painting he uses a subtle monotone.
‘I have a passion for Perspex, Acrylics and Plexiglas. I like metal and polished wood, blocks of glass and lacquerwork.’ He uses pure wools, cottons and bright linens, leather and fur for upholstery.
Ray Seide left Neville Marsh Interiors in 1970 ( before George joined) to begin his own design company
1970 saw the publication of the first design book in full colour on Australian design and architecture – Australian Style – which Babette Hayes and April Hersey collaborated
It featured the leading names of the times such as Harry Seidler, Ken Woolley, Neville Marsh, Albert Read, Graham Gunn, Tom Gillies, Bruce Douglas, Dennis Bellotte, Ray Seide, Marion Hall Best, Reg Riddell, Robin Boyd, , Barry Little, Joyce Tebbutt, Leslie Walford, Florence Broadhurst, John Anderson, Gordon Andrews, Russell Whitechurch and many more.
It is now a reference book for Australian design in the 1960’s
Neville Marsh Interiors – projects
George Joins Neville Marsh Interiors – 1970
George Freedman’s Projects with Neville Marsh Interiors
A feature of these projects was an encompassing aesthetic of all elements, extending beyond furniture and decoration to functional fittings.
They also followed Freedman’s formula in embellishing the symmetry and simplicity of Modernism with colour and contrasting materials and decoration.
Hoyts Cinemas, 1970
Partnership Pacific HQ, Sydney – 1972
Partnership Pacific Limited now operates as a subsidiary of Westpac Banking Corp.
Marsh Freedman Associates was established – 1973
Neville Marsh Interiors – early work with George Freedman 1970’s
The Fight for West Woollahra
The inaugural meeting of the Queen Street and West Woollahra Association was called in 1972 by a group of local residents determined to preserve the character of Queen Street and its surrounding district.
Marsh Freedman moves to Cathederal Street, Wooloomooloo in preparation for the State Bank Project
Price Waterhouse + Co , Sydney – 1981
Regarded as one of Sydney’s most prestigious office towers, the AMP Centre boasts unrivalled and spectacular views over Sydney Harbour making its presence recognisable on Sydney’s skyline as being one of the city’s most admirable superstructure.
George undertook the management office redesign
George & Friends changed the Sydney Food Scene
Tony Bilson is credited with changing Australia’s food culture. He was revolutionising the way we eat before such a thing as a celebrity chef existed.
Tony Bilson has been called the godfather of modern Australian cuisine; a restaurateur, bon vivant and bohemian as well as a husband, father and patron of young talent in the arts.
In the past 40 years he’s been responsible for some of the most iconic restaurants in Australia and has nurtured world famous chefs like Tetsuya Wakuda
Through the ups and downs in Australia’s economy, George’s close friend Tony Bilson kept opening restaurants
After studying at Melbourne Grammar he was, at the time, more interested in art, and the libertarian movement, than classic cooking.
The Belle Epoque period fascinated him, however, although he didn’t visit France for the first time until 1975.
Bilson’s celebrated career began in Melbourne at the end of the 1960s when he cooked at La Pomme d’Or in Camberwell, and later at the Albion Hotel in Lygon Street.
He moved to Sydney and along with partner Gay Morris, later Gay Bilson, opened Tony’s Bon Gout in the early 1970s. It soon became the de facto canteen of the Labor Party and the Sydney Push.
Berowra Waters, a world-class and hugely influential restaurant that Gay Bilson ran after their split in 1981 followed, and then Kinsela’s – a former funeral parlour in Taylor Square that he turned into a theatre, bar and restaurant.
It was a venue ahead of its time.
In the 1980s he opened the first Bilson’s at Circular Quay, in the site now occupied by Quay restaurant.
Then came Fine Bouche, the Treasury Restaurant in the Hotel InterContinental, Ampersand at Cockle Bay and Canard in Double Bay.
The second Bilson’s opened in 2003 and has earned three hats in the last three editions of The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
Tony started Tony’s Bon Gout and Berowra Waters during the stagflation in the 1970s, and turned a funeral parlor into bar/restaurant Kinsela’s in the recession of the early 1980s
George Freedman and Tony Bilson were leaders in Sydney design and hospitality.
Together with Anders Ousbach, Tony Bilson, and restauranteurs Mrs Staley ( melbourne), Mrs Spry (sydney) – George was a key part of the Evolution of dining in Sydney during the 1980’s and 1990’s
Bilson’s Berowra Waters Inn, designed by Glenn Murcutt during the late 1970s, set the mould for the marriage of creative food in carefully designed settings
Lunch in a simple, vine-covered courtyard in Mikonos in 1964 sowed the seeds for Glenn Murcutt’s redesign of Berowra Waters Inn, when he realised that ‘people make a space and become part of the architecture and the food must be the hero’.
So the reconstruction from the original 1920s tea-house, involved a lot more than a mere architectural definition of a space for the purpose of consuming food.
It required the creation of a room, which was understated, even lacking, a place that needed the addition of food and people to bring it to life.
Accordingly, Murcutt designed a ‘Verandah by the Water’,
berowra waters restaurant
Kinselas Theatre Restaurant – 1982
Bilson brought his concept to Sydney in 1982 when he commissioned Murcutt and Freedman to turn the Charles Kinsela funeral parlour into a brasserie, bar and cabaret complex.
Originally designed in 1933 by Bruce Dellit, Sydney’s leading exponent of Art Deco, the success and spectacle of Kinselas inspired numerous similar projects, some designed by Freedman alumni.
In 1983 an apprentice called Tetsuya Wakuda,( recently arrived from Japan) dished up smart French food till after midnight.
A year later, the room was packed every night with odd-looking people, somebody played a piano sometimes and Sydney felt like the most sophisticated place on Earth.
Kinselas in that form lasted five years
Glo Glo’s, Melbourne – redecoration – 1984
Senso Unico – 1986
Other notable Sydney restaurants in the early 1980’s were the Wharf restaurant (1986) designed by Vivian Fraser, Rockpool (1989) and the Burdekin Dug Out bar (1988) by Stephen Roberts and Bill MacMahon, Darley Street Thai (1991) and Sailors Thai (1995) by Burley Katon Halliday.
Most of these designers were mentored by George at Marsh Freedman Associates
Alexandra Units, Darlinghurst – 1982
Stylishly renovated with attention to detail, these two storey apartments feature flexible floorplan soaring ceilings, timber floors, generous indoor and outdoor living areas, privately positioned amongst the lush tropical gardens of ‘Alexandra’ a boutique Federation building, just a stones throw from all the wonderful cafes and restaurants of the local area
Kempsey Museum with Glenn Murcutt, 1982
Magnus Nankervis and Curl – 1982
Magnus Nankervis & Curl were the most stylish ad agency in Sydney during the eighties, creating the most stylish ads, led by three stylish gentlemen: John Nankervis, who was CD, Ted Curl, who was head of art, and Michael Magnus, who was CEO.
The building was completely refurbished in 1981 by architects Allen, Jack & Cottier in collaboration with interior designers Marsh Freedman.
The ground floor tenant was the Macquarie Galleries.
In 1995 an application was approved for conversion to residential use and the addition of further floor to the building.
Leightons House, North Sydney, 1983
Order Imports – Textiles Showroom – 1983
Mayur Indian restaurant, MLC Centre , Sydney – 1983
Kessel Residence – 1983
Nankervis House – 1983
In collaboration with Allen Jack + Cottier
State Bank of NSW – Executive Offices Project – 1985
George Freedman’s work on the State Bank project id classified in Australian design folklore as one of the seminal moments in corporate design in this country.
It is a masterpiece in complexity and ingenuity of corporate interior design
The State Bank interiors are still regarded as Sydney’s most extravagant interior fit-out – and the industry was very disappointed when they are replaced by subsequent tenants.
photos by Willem Riethmeier
The State bank project by George Freedman was provocative in its delivery , involving luxurious corporate interiors and a hidden garden caught in the drafty slot between the office tower and its neighbors.
The scale of such a project involved many different interior resolutions required within the multiplicity of requirements of the staff structure of the bank.
The executive lobby is a dazzling depository of reflections in glass, metal and stone reinforcing the customary conservatism of banking’s upper echelons but couched in the innovative guise of the Marsh Freedman persona.
The private roof garden is a clever architectural allegory inventing a yin/yang duality of elements and materials within the architectural landscape of paving, trees and garden, axially divided by a rippling cascade which mysteriously springs fort.
A grided mirror cube tilted precariously onto a concrete plinth, which houses window cleaning equipment, completes this surreal stage set.
Freedman Marsh Apartment, Potts Point – 1985
In collaboration with Peter Stronach – Allen Jack + Cottier Architects
Barristers Chambers, Philip Street Sydney – 1980 to 1986
Chez Oz, Darlinghurst – 1986
In an article headed “Twenty defining moments that shaped Sydney’s way of eating” in 2002, the Herald described Chez Oz as a mecca for moneyed “business boys and fashion girls”.
Sitting at the Power Table in Chez Oz – in the corner furthest from the door, with a view out the window and across the entire room.
Back in the greed-is-good decade, Chez Oz was the place to be seen if you considered yourself a top person in fashion, business or advertising – the equivalent of today’s Otto or Machiavelli.
The front room was Paradise, the back room was Siberia. And a table by the window in Paradise meant one could look down on the hacks who had been grudgingly given a table by the door so they could write about the celebrities they’d spotted.
Apple Headquarters, Frenchs Forrest, Sydney – 1986
Done in collaboration with Allen Jack + Cottier Architects
Allen Jack + Cottier were asked to design a new national headquarters for Apple Computer in Sydney which would align its image with a growing reputation amongst clients and staff as ‘innovative, creative, accessible, egalitarian and Australian’.
Besides requiring a much larger office, there was also need for a training centre and a warehouse.
The training centre was designed as a freestanding building of its own, placed distinctively at the main entry steps, within a uniquely emblemic cubic form capped by a conical slate roof.
In the main building, an atrium runs east-west across its length, with meeting rooms, reception and an open-plan general office area, cafeteria and recreation area on one side and on the other, more offices, demonstration rooms, and a dining room.
The warehouse and distribution centre were situated on lower levels along with security parking for up to 190 cars.
Aluminium louvres have been placed all along the eastern, northern and western facing facades and over the staff terrace to provide extensive sun control.
Bold coats of dark green, blue and red, then Apple’s corporate colours, were applied throughout the building.
New York’s Metropolis magazine declared the project the “world’s best commercial building” in 1989.
PowerHouse Museum – 1986
Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, occupies the site of Ultimo’s old power station and has done since 1986.
The Powerhouse Museum is run by the State Government of NSW as a division of the Applied Arts and Sciences and its unique and diverse collection spans history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport and space exploration.
With its statement of purpose being to ’discover and be inspired by human ingenuity’, the permanent collection does just that, with exhibits ranging from planes, trains and steam engines to fashion, furniture, design and technological and scientific innovations.
The collection includes the giant – a 200 tonne Locomotive 3830 and the tiny – delicate pieces of lace and precious ceramics. There are estimated to be over 500,000 items in the museum collection – a treasure trove of Australian history.
Knoll Showroom at Arredorama – 1989
in the design for Arredorama’s Knoll Collection showroom, George deftly manipulated form with striking results.
The sculpted iceberg plinths create dynamic backdrops to knoll’s ascetic pieces, distinguishing the collection from the other furniture in the showroom
Cleveland Street, Redfern – 1987
George moves the Marsh Freedman Associates Studio and personal residence to Cleveland Street, Redfern
Privately and peacefully set well back from the street on an impressively spacious 820sqm parcel, this exceptional property presented a truly rare opportunity.
Consisting of an immaculately restored c1845 sandstone cottage at the front, there is also an adjoining Edwardian wing that was designed by renowned architect Glenn Murcutt and interior designer George Freedman for use as a commercial studio.
For all the opulence in many of Marsh Freedman’s design, it is always balanced with tempered restraint guided by Modernist principles. This is evident in their 1985 Redfern Studio and residence, fashioned around a nineteenth century inner city residence.
The traditional structure is paired with a glazed pavilion forming a courtyard where both architectures interact respectfully.
Strong planes of color also unite disjunctive eras.
Cleveland Street, Studio residence – 1987
Jarrett House, Watsons Bay – 1987
Spry House – 1987
Bilsons Restaurant, Sydney – 1988
In 1988 Tony Bilson opened an a la carte restaurant in the newly renovated Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay West.
Aimed at a more affluent and touristic market than Bilson’s previous projects, the new restaurant was designed by George Freedman.
What used to be Australia’s immigration/customs checkpoint (comparable to New York’s Ellis Island) was, in the 1950s, converted into a “gateway-to-Sydney” port for passenger liners.
The delightful panorama of Bilson’s Restaurant, materials compliment the spatial hierarchy developed from the cylindrical foyer through a sensuous passage which leads to the crescendo of the split level dining area, with its brightly audacious cabinetry mirrored in the ceiling, presenting stunning views of Circular Quay.
Each phase of the design program was tendered on a competition basis, with creation of “image and atmosphere, i.e., the feel of the interior” awarded to Marsh Freedman Associates.
By now Neville Marsh having retired and moved to Italy, so George Freedman was the principal designer in charge.
The restaurant was conceived with a primary intention to …. “capitalize and harness exposure to multi-directional views. Sydney Harbour Bridge, the famed Opera House and the skyline of the city itself…”
Why was a woman in the men’s wash room?
To view the phallic symbolism of the two round washbasins set either side of a vertical towel rack. The phallic design in the men’s at Bilson’s was a tongue-in-cheek approach to gender-specific toilets, says George Freedman, of Marsh Freedman and Associates, who plotted every detail of Bilson’s, including the toilets.
In the men’s there are mirrors either side of the urinals – for showing off, says Freedman.
The women’s room has basins of white ceramic in an oval shape, suggesting eggs.
Apart from Freedman’s gender joke, the toilets at Bilson’s are seriously elegant.
Walls are clad full-length in glass-mosaic tiles, turquoise for women, azure for men. White marble divides the men’s cubicles and is used for the bench top in the women’s; doors are walnut veneer.
Highly polished stainless-steel ceiling squares set with halogen lights match the ceiling over the bar.
“Going to a restaurant of the class of Bilson’s is a pleasure experience,”Freedman says. “Toilets should be part of that experience; you should feel as wonderful in that space as you do at the table. The finishes are luxurious to restate the glamour of the restaurant.” He would not say how much the toilets cost.
The Bilson’s design followed that of the Four Seasons restaurant in New York, he says, where the men’s lavatory is “impeccable – beautiful materials exquisitely handled, the design appropriate to the grandeur and space of the restaurant”. “”The toilet partitions are marble panels, the doors walnut veneer, the taps by Mies van der Rohe.
For me it’s the pinnacle in terms of elegance, restraint and symbolism, making the user feel they are extending their experience and being totally cared for.”
Australia Pavilion , Brisbane – 1988
In collaboration with architects Anchor Mortlock and Woolley
The host nation’s pavilion at Expo 88 was designed to be unique, exciting and memorable to express the expo theme of “Leisure in the Age of Technology”.
As well as being an enclosure for entertainment, information and exhibitions, the building itself reflected images of Australia, coastal beaches, mountains and forests.
It contained a theatre of illusion, depicting the aboriginal dreamtime story of the rainbow serpent, a general exhibition hall, large VIP entertainment areas and outdoor terraces, with a total floor space of 4,750 sqm.
The building “shed” was decorated with a collage of architectural devices drawn from aspects of the Australian landscape.
The north elevation is made from multiple layers of lattice and rows of columns, producing shadow effects reminiscent of eucalyptus forests
On the west, the rolled corrugated iron, with its connotations of bush architecture, is formed into cylinders like breaking waves, while the rooftop is surmounted by a series of profiled blades which relate to the blue mountains range backdrop to Brisbane.
As a painted building, the design was elaborated with a profusion of brilliant colours, prepared by George Freedman.
The large sign sculptures announcing Australia were created by Ken Done, who also designed the staff uniforms and souvenirs.
Luna Park Redevelopment – 1988
Luna Park is to be redeveloped as a venue for adults with only limited amusements for children.
The $30 million plan reflects the thinking of amusement park planners that fun parks, originally designed for adults, have gone rapidly downhill since being taken over by children.
Although the redeveloped Luna Park will have some children’s amusements, it will not be marketed as a children’s venue.
Historic parts of the park including the dilapidated entrance were restored in what was a major effort to bring the unprofitable 52-year-old amusement park up to date.
Many of the rides, several of which are out of service, were sold or repositioned.
Badly placed buildings and motorised fun park rides which block harbour views are expected to be cleared or renovated to reveal wide water views from the two hectare harbour-front site.
A cinema-theatre centre, museums, gardens, a brasserie, and new rides are included in the plans by the architects Marsh Freedman Associates.
Consultants included the actress Ruth Cracknell, choreographer Graeme Murphy, Leo Schofield and the restaurateur Peter Doyle.
After its re-launch, Luna Park will open seven days a week for about 18 hours a day.
North Sydney Council has yet to give any building approval for the development and the Government has yet to consent formally to the transfer of the remaining 28-year lease from Harbourside Amusement Park Pty Ltd to Prome Investment Pty Ltd.
The Government, which receives 5 per cent of Luna Park’s gross turnover, has agreed in principle to awarding the lease to the consortium.
Sam Marshall, a partner in Marsh Freedman Associates, said the downfall of amusement parks had coincided with cinemas and television.
“In those first days between 1900 and 1930 they didn’t have cinema or television and amusement parks were fantasy things … now amusement parks are competing against Spielberg,” he said.
He said the most popular rides were sedate by modern standards and had names like Trip to the Moon, which was a journey to the planets and an imagined look at the lunar landscape.
Sturkey Apartment, Sydney – 1988
George is recognizable for his relentless attention to detail, inventive use of materials and commitment to creating spatial interventions rather than merely applying surface decoration.
The interplay of element and material is worked to enhance the qualities of the spaces beyond merely satisfying the brief: and joinery is crafted with elegant exactitude within specific guidelines of proportion and tactility.
This methodology can be found in the Sturkey Apartment where built in furniture and curved metal screens grandly elaborate the rooms.
Kraanerg Sydney Dance Company Set Design – 1988
The Kraanerg stage set featured a triangular geometry carved from a solid background that allows the dance stage alternating depth of field in the stunning interplay of different effects, as lighting is splashed onto the angular surfaces.
Fairfax Apartment, Darling Pt – 1990
Vaucluse House, 1990
Staley Apartment, Melbourne – 1990
Dani Marti Apartment – 1990
Soft Bruising – 1991
Treasury Restaurant, Intercontinetal Hotel Sydney – 1992
In the pure treatment of color, George’s reputation is decidedly well earned, no better exemplified than in the interior of the Treasury Restaurant.
The painting of the free standing columns in white causes them to diminish in prominence while the rich crimson and gold leaf of the perimeter walls holds the space in an intimacy appropriate to the experience of dining.
Paint is used to enhance the spatial definition giving the generously proportioned colonial space a wholly contemporary character
Macquarie Bank – executive offices – 1993
In collaboration with Allen Jack + Cottier Architects
Penrith Panthers Leagues Club, Sydney – 1993
In collaboration with Gazzard Sheldon Architects
Penrith Rugby League Club, originally a ‘pokey single storey building with eight poker machines, one pool table, one bar and a small dedicated membership’ when it was founded in 1956.
By1995, 52,000 members, 900 staff 800 gaming machines, six bars, five restaurants, a nightclub, a cinema, tennis courts, a golf driving range, cable skiing, waterslides, a miniature railway and more than 200 four‐star motel rooms set on its 81 hectares
Shanahan Apartment – 1994
James Fairfax Residence – 1995
George Freedman and Ralph Rembel, describes the house as “a simple structure – basically two rooms up and two down, with a corridor connecting the front and back rooms on both levels and the service rooms off the corridor”
“In keeping with the minimalism of the concept, there is a concentration on four materials: white painted plaster walls throughout, limestone floors downstairs, carpet upstairs and timber on the staircase, which has been designed as a solid block that you walk up.”
In collaboration with Espie Dodds
Elizabeth Bay Apartment – 1995
Interview with George Freedman by Graham Foreman in Monument No 7, 1995
Mirabelle Restaurant, Circular Quay – 1996
Mirabelle is an elegant looking space – the restaurant sits within the foyer of the AMP Building and has fabulous lighting and plush seating.
The well-appointed interior is dotted with elegantly comfortable Eames chairs and lined with vibrantly red banquettes.
The restaurant affords glimpses of Circular Quay and the Harbour Bridge, and one end is open to people picking up takeaways.
A marble forecourt adds a tinge of glamour, although any resultant noise is absorbed by a deep carpet.
Martin Road residence – 1997
Ampersand, Darling Harbour, 1998
Tony Bilson burst back on to the Sydney scene in a blaze of glory with this smart George Freedman-designed room and the most modern kitchen in town.
This restaurant was one of “le palais de haute cuisine” in town, at the forefront of a movement veering towards France.
Launching a new restaurant with loud fanfare is a high-risk strategy that sets exceptionally high expectations, especially when the venue is positioned as an icon site.
Such was the ploy of Sydney restaurateur chef Tony Bilson & ex-hotelier Ted Wright at Ampersand, a slick chic “diner” atop the aggressively promoted Cockle Bay Darling Harbour development.
With shipwright nautical design overtones and an understated livery of cappuccino and beige, it feels like a liner berthed.
Clever lighting, seating on two tiers, chocolate truffle and white stripey carpet all contribute to a sense of elegance and calm attention.
Not so pampered are those in the back stalls whose snug side-by-side tables-for-two are aligned to face the room and the view.
Ampersand offers a flawless experience at an international level in a luxurious and sophisticated environment.
Sydney Dance Company , Mythologia set design – 2000
Since 1976, acclaimed artistic director Graeme Murphy and the Sydney Dance Company were renowned for their innovative and contemporary style.
In 2000, the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival and the Brisbane Festival commissioned Sydney Dance Company to create a work to celebrate the Olympics.
Inspired by the heroes of Greek mythology, Murphy fittingly created a latter-day Olympic Ode, honouring the heroes of ancient mythology in the manner of Pindar.
Mythologia premiered on 19 August, 2000 at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney.
George Freedman created the stark minimalist set which provided a counterpoint to Richard de Chazal’s opulent costume designs
Mythologia made full use of the large stage at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, with its clever but minimalist stage design by George Freedman and Ralph Rembel, who presented stage lighting designer Damien Cooper with a spectacular white curved set dominated by 4 x 3m-high pillars on casters with 3 x 3m flame cannons sprouting from their tops.
Noosa house – 2000
AMP HQ, Sydney – Executive Offices and Lobby – 2001
The AMP Sydney Cove building was completed in 1962 ( PTW Architects ) and is a landmark in Australian architecture.
It was the first building to break Sydney’s height limit of 150 feet (45.7 metres) and was at the time Australia’s tallest building.
Features such as the sweeping curves of its form, finishes including marble and mosaic tiles, and the interpretative sculpture by Tom Bass on the Young Street facade, all exemplify design of the period.
Arising out of new street arrangements along Circular Quay, a new forecourt stretching to Alfred Street was made possible and has given the building greater presence at entry level.
Spatial continuity between outside and inside was created through the use of a clear glass facade extending from floor to ceiling and a internal floor finish that matches the colour of the external forecourt.
In addition, a new canopy has been added facing Young Street and an array of service doors were transformed into an art wall signalling an appropriate sense of welcome.
The materials selected for the lobby utilise the palette of the original building.
As part of an overall refurbishment of the building, interior designers Freedman Rembel collaborated with architects PTW Architects on the design of the ground floor lobby and with AMP directly for the Executive Office floors.
Throughout they have attempted to enhance and amplify the special qualities of the original building rather than merely update it with a contemporary sensibility.
Despite its market leadership, AMP is facing a rapidly changing business environment that could well challenge its position as market leader. Accordingly it turned its attentions to global growth and commensurate with this has refurbished its Australian Headquarters to meet international expectations as to stability, professionalism, knowledge and function.
George Freedman delivered a serene and strong sense of value and quality to this project.
George Freedman Associates which was renamed Freedman Rembel in 2002.
About Ralph Rembel
Ralph Rembel was born in Krefeld, Germany in 1960
He lived in Switzerland until his family moved to Sydney, Australia in 1965.
Having decided to become an Architect at an early age he worked with his Father on construction sites since the age of 12 until completing University. Studied Classical Guitar throughout his School years, then Architecture at University of New South Wales between 1978-84.
He completed a Bachelor of Architecture with honours UNSW.
Participated in final year design studio under the guidance of Glenn Murcutt.
An invitation to join Marsh Freedman Associates in late 1984 came as a result of his final year design work being exhibited.
Worked as an employee and later Associate from 1984 to 1996.
In 1996, he became a Partner of George Freedman Associates which was renamed Freedman Rembel in 2002.
Ralph now lives in the Sydney suburb of Dural with wife Diane and daughter Michaela.
Sydney Apartment – 2001
“We felt amazement that an apartment in this category could be so indifferent – it was bland and vulgar at the same time.”
Beige carpets and cream walls throughout, flimsy-looking internal doors, a white marble staircase with chrome balustrade and timber handrail, a nasty jagged arrangement of walls and doors on the back wall of the living room with doors directly opening to the powder room, electrical cupboards and other service areas. “There was no sense of calm, the room was not at rest,” says Freedman.
“The clients brief was to, make it warm,” says Freedman. “We made it welcoming and colourful and immediately accessible.”
And so what was initially planned as a library just inside the front door is now a sitting room with a pair of burnt orange Luna sofa beds covered in pink satin and blue and purple corduroy cushions; two wardrobes contained in a wall unit; spotted Akari floor lamp in one comer and a wall completely covered in colourful decorative masks from around the world.
It also gives an idea of .the tone of the rest of the two-storey apartment – it’s practical, colourful and flexible, it mixes classics with new and not necessarily known pieces, it’s not precious.
“You’ve got to have fun,” says Freedman. “Serious design can be painful.”
And so apart from getting rid of the boring colour scheme, replacing doors throughout with multi-paned, bevelled-mirrored doors ( inspired by a scene from Dangerous Liaisons ) and installing a kerning timber floor ( chosen for its stability ), a priority was to give the living room “a back”, a slightly stepped wall of American white oak, which from one angle appears to be flat, while from the far corner of the room, that volume breaks into fragments and you can see that the wall incorporates shelving.
Medina Grand, Perth – 2004
Situated in the heart of the CBD, Medina Grand Perth is conveniently located on site at the new Perth Convention Centre and a stones throw from the Swan River
Medina Grand Perth opened its doors in June 2004. With interiors designed by Sydney designer George Freedman, Medina Grand Perth features 138 one and two bedroom apartments and studio rooms, and it combines the convenience of apartment space with hotel facilities. Since its opening, Medina Grand quickly established itself as the benchmark for deluxe accommodation in Perth.
Elizabeth Bay House Trust – 2005
This initiative is intended to stimulate interest in contemporary design and showcase the potential of new uses for historic buildings. It will also throw light on the history of Elizabeth Bay House itself, which when it opened as a museum in 1977 set a new standard in restoration practice, and was instrumental in changing public perceptions of our built heritage.
The exhibition reveals that the house museum is but one phase of the place’s history and investigates what we can learn from its earlier uses when it was divided into flats or used as an artists’ squat.
For the first part of the exhibition, two of the state’s most renowned cutting-edge design teams, Freedman Rembel and Durbach Block, were commissioned to design contemporary installations in the magnificently proportioned historic dining and drawing rooms.
Each team has been presented with an almost empty room, cleared of all furnishings except for some key items such as fitted carpet, mirrors and argand lamp.
They have been briefed to design an installation that will allow the room to operate as a self-contained apartment for one or more people.
George and Ralph examined the relationship between the Georgian discipline and proportions of the existing rooms and modern ideas of space, light, lifestyle and relationship to the outside world.
George Freedman and Ralph Rembel have developed a design for a ‘syndicate community’ shared by two couples, in the drawing room.
Twin ‘privacy modules’ in the corners of the room provide for sleeping, storage and bathing, while the centre is occupied by two large amorphous blobs, upholstered with multi coloured household sponges, echoing the hues of the existing fitted carpet.
Cooking, dining and sideboard functions are fashioned from a seemingly ad hoc arrangement of simple building materials and found objects including trestles, crates, pipes, hessian and hollow core doors.
The design speculates on new forms of urban living and examines ideas of privacy and community in contemporary society.
The design proposed a new way of understanding heritage and conservation, and explore innovative forms of urban dwelling.
Double Bay house – 2005
Adagio Boat – 2005
When a design brief is submitted with examples of architecture and style from the owner’s home, a new level of challenge and quality is raised for the proposed yacht.
Adagio is a large-volume vessel of 67 tonnes, but in that volume there is only 95 square meters of living space.
This challenging brief executed with the skill of a world class interior designer and a highly experienced naval architect produced stunning results
Adagio interiors provide a gentle and tranquil environment reflecting and reacting to the natural light of the changing days and seasons.
With subtle reference to maritime tradition and form, the interiors are elegantly understated, beautifully crafted and compliment the superb technical conception of Adagio.
A mid-toned Beech veneer with a water grain and subtly sumptuous appearance is used on general joinery throughout.
A paler toned bamboo board for the interior flooring, along with silvery grey carpet in the saloon, stateroom and two cabins, is used as an accent to the white head-lining and interior expression of the hull carefully articulating the expression of the structural elements and the furnished elements.
The fitted upholstery in the saloon, pilothouse, and fly bridge is within the grey/silver/warm grey palette using gentle yellows as accents on two chairs and cushions.
The joinery in the master cabin is Tasmanian Fiddle Back Oak veneer, used as a reference to the owner’s birthplace, and a sumptuous leafy French tapestry has been installed as a bed-head panel to balance the pattern of the timber veneer.
Seating on the rear deck is upholstered in traditional stripes of off-white and pale blue in keeping with the softened palette throughout the boat.
Quay Restaurant, Sydney – 2004
Situated in the dress circle of the harbour, Quay has some of Sydney’s most spectacular views, sweeping from the Opera House to the Harbour Bridge.
The food created by chef Peter Gilmore is equally awe-inspiring. Peter’s use of texture and his exploration of nature’s diversity are key elements to his continually evolving original style.
In 2013 Quay was voted Number 48 on the coveted S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list maintaining it’s position on the list for the fifth year in a row.
The 2013 return of Freedman Rembel to Bilson’s earlier restaurant’s design role provided an opportunity to recapture the intent of the interior finishes which, although partly modified and slightly muted, remain largely intact.
The colour palette was returned to its full strength and vigour with a fresh arrangement.
The unique stainless steel fabric wall, an innovation in 1988, was replaced by a modern equivalent in the form of a glass bead surface, resulting in an increased sparkle compared with the 1988 surface.
The original carpet design was an abstraction celebrating the harbour surface and the fractured reflections of the city and its multiple colours.
The new carpet design departs from the original in form but actively follows the original premise to interact with the unique harbour position and the now even more vibrant environment that encircles it.
Mosman House – 2006
photos by sharrin rees
Freedman Apartment – 2006
George saw a display suite in Surry Hills for a development called the Common by Melbourne architect Bruce Henderson. “The plan reminded me of a New York brownstone [apartment building]” he says. “And I liked the idea that there were only two apartments per floor.”
Freedman and his partner, psychologist Peter O’Brien, moved into the apartment last October, having paid extra to have the developer modify the design.
Instead of the standard carpet throughout, they opted for terracotta tiles – supplied and laid in a herringbone fashion on a soundproof bed and honed and polished on site.
“I saw a similar floor in the Carlo Scarpa [Castelvecchio] museum in Verona,” Freedman says.
He had a bathtub installed in the main ensuite and replaced the wall tiles with glass mosaics in puce. The second bathroom was reconfigured to include a laundry (hidden behind a mirrored door), which was to have been in the kitchen.
“I did not want socks in my soup,” Freedman laughs.
From the balcony, a corridor of buildings frames a shell of the Opera House. Tall buildings surround the apartment, but Freedman doesn’t mind. He loves city life and enjoys sitting on the balcony watching urban vignettes.
Inside, there is a glass-and-chrome Barcelona coffee table by Mies van der Rohe and pony-skin LC1 Basculant chairs by Le Corbusier.
When Freedman and O’Brien entertain, they and their guests sit at a white marble dining table designed by Florence Knoll, seated in black leather MR chairs designed by Van der Rohe in 1927.
Like most of his furniture, they are classics he has owned for more than 30 years.
The modernist panache continues throughout. From the 2005 Minotti sofa and Saarinen tulip tables (used beside the bed), to the TS502 Brionvega radio and paper-skinned Noguchi lamp.
The eclectic art collection features works by Dick Watkins, Peter Kingston and Freedman himself.
“I wanted to make a comfortable home for Peter and the dogs,” he says. “A home of absolute simplicity, pared down to the design basics. I think I’ve achieved that.”
smh text by Stephen Lacy
PBL Levels 2 & 14 – 2007
Buon Ricardo – 2007
In 1987 Buon Ricordo ( owner/chef Armando Percuoco ) opened its’ doors and is widely acknowledged by critics and diners as one of Australia’s finest Italian restaurants.
Throughout the restaurant you will find many works of art, styles ranging from classic to modern with a number of mediums represented.
The art collection has been built up over 25 years, often from artists with a personal relationship to the restaurant
Described as “something straight out of the Bellagio in Las Vegas”, Freedman has used a $40,000 painting called Pozzo’s Ceiling by James McGrath, from the Woollahra art dealer Michael Carr, as his inspiration.
Tiger lane, Double Bay – 2007
Qualia Resort, Hamilton Island – 2007
Qualia features 60 elegant private one bedroom pavilions (some incorporating private plunge pool) accessible only to the resort’s guests.
Attention to detail in the design and construction and the scale and quality of the tropical gardens, pools and public areas is unsurpassed at Qualia.
Qualia’s design is the work of Australian architect Chris Beckingham.
His philosophy was to “create a luxurious Australian retreat that stimulates the senses and draws the outside in. The resulting design combines a unique sense of space, openness and harmony. Set amongst native Eucalypts, each pavilion has been handcrafted from the finest imported and local timber and stone.
To complement the natural surrounds, Dennis Nona’s artworks adorn the walls and Freedman Rembel has furnished the interiors with fabrics and patterns inspired by nature.
The Onslow Apartments, Elizabeth Bay – 2007
In collaboration with PTW architects
The Onslow is a unique development of nine elegant apartments of grand proportions over 6 levels.
Located on the exclusive western side of Elizabeth Bay, it occupies a tranquil sanctuary between the waterfront and the cosmopolitan hub of Macleay Street.
A classic building that draws on the legacy of the area’s rich architectural heritage, Onslow features a colonnade of granite columns, sitting sensitively within the streetscape, and referencing Elizabeth Bay House in its classic symmetry and proportion.
The interiors by Freedman Rembel, reflect the timeless sophistication found in apartments of 19th century Paris or post-war New York.
Queen Victoria’s Makeover – 2009
Master Plan collaboration with architects Anchor Mortlock & Woolley
The QVB fills an entire city block bound by George, Market, York and Druitt Streets, with the dominant feature the mighty centre dome, consisting of an inner glass dome and an exterior copper- sheathed dome.
Glorious stained glass windows and splendid architecture endure throughout the building and an original 19th century staircase sits alongside the dome.
The Queen Victoria Building (QVB) has been restored to her former glory, with a refurbishment that has seen six years of careful planning and implementation.
The $48 million project cultivates an upgrade that reflects the building’s original design, whilst maintaining commercial and shopper realities of the 21st century.
Every detail has been faithfully restored, including arches, pillars, balustrades and the intricate tiled floors thus maintaining the integrity of the building.
Award winning architects, Sydney based Anchor, Mortlock and Woolley were responsible for resurrecting the QVB’s heritage values and architectural design, which included highlighting the QVB’s magnificent columns by installing frameless glass shop fronts.
Heritage consultant Graham Brooks worked closely with the team which included the highly respected Ken Woolley, in order to revive historical elements of the building that had been lost over the years.
This included devising a Victorian inspired colour palette to complement the unique cultural elements of the building.
Internationally renowned colourist, George Freedman, devised a spectacular new colour scheme that will highlight the beautiful architecture of the building whilst providing a backdrop for a world-class shopping experience.
George Freedman (of Freedman Rembel), used clear positive colours, which adhere to the Arts and Crafts ideal of integrity, suitability of form to function, and exuberance, with clear white archways separating and defining the palette.
Such aesthetics symbolise the heart of the building and hark back to the Victorian colour ways, contemporary with the construction of the Queen Victoria markets building in the late 1800s.
The design is minimalist, modern, and reversible, using an engineered structure that does not overpower the ornate building elements.
The use of red, turquoise and eggshell blue is a more vibrant and honest interpretation of how the Victorian sensibility embraced vibrant colours in courageous combinations.
As part of the design process, colour test patches were applied throughout the building and he says that it is important to review these colours insitu and under different lighting conditions to ensure their suitability.
Over the coming months, further colour tests were undertaken and refinements were made to the colour scheme in consultation with key stakeholders.
Working together the City of Sydney, Heritage Council and Ipoh have achieved a delicate balance between historical preservation and commercial necessity.
The Elizabeth, Sydney – 2009
In collaboration with Architect: Andrew Andersons, PTW Architects.
The Elizabeth is located alongside some of the best examples of historic Sydney architecture on Elizabeth Street in Sydney’s CBD on prestigious Hyde Park.
The building design combines fluid digital profiles with classic and elegant materials to create a building which is at once progressive and stately.
With only 19 apartments, this exclusive 17 storey development will create a new standard in luxury and contemporary design for Australia.
For design inspiration George Freedman looked to the classics of 20th century classic design to create a world class building for a truly unique site.
Snuggled next to the Sheraton On The Park, The Elizabeth has obvious exclusivity and Fifth Avenue appeal, a design point pushed by Freedman Rembel.
The three-level penthouse, The Archibald (more than 500sqm), recently created a record for Australia’s most expensive apartment sale (more than $20 million.)
End of Freedman Rembel – 2010
Freedman Rembel was the 21 year design partnership between George Freedman and Ralph Rembel, resulting in a widely published portfolio of Residential, Commercial, Hospitality and Theatre designs.
Pacific Bondi apartments, Sydney – 2012
Designed by architect Andrew Andersons from PTW, Pacific Bondi Beach, Australia.
The premium residential, hotel, and retail development at the heart of Campbell Parade, is a re-development of Bondi’s Swiss Grand Hotel.
The residential and commercial beachfront establishment boasts unrivalled views, exceptional services and a front row seat in the ultimate Australian lifestyle – Bondi Beach.
The $440 million dollar project – consists of 95 apartments, hotel, health club and a luxury retail precinct and will be completed in late 2015.
Purchasers have a choice of three extraordinary finishes schemes created by a trio of Australia’s leading interior designers including George Freedman of PTW Architects
The ‘Easy Elegance’ of George Freedman’s designs offer “cool, relaxed spaces where the sea and the air take precedence”, with an emphasis on polished luxury and elegant sanctuary.
Dedece Knoll 75th anniversary showroom
Since Knoll’s founding in 1938, design integrity has been our guiding principle as we offer insight into the way business is changing and into whats possible—now and for the future.
We believe good design is good business. Our commitment to modern design has yielded a comprehensive portfolio of furniture products and textiles designed to provide enduring value and help clients shape their workspaces with imagination and vision.
We have been recognized as a design leader worldwide.
Our products are exhibited in major art museums, with more than 40 pieces in the permanent Design Collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York.