Q&A WITH MATHEW FREEMAN, PRESIDENT OF THE BIID
How did you start your career in interior design?
After my GCSEs I studied Art & Design at Barnsley College, which included ceramic pieces, woodwork, jewellery, furniture and room sets. This led to an Interior Architecture course at Newcastle College, which focussed on existing building refurbishment. After 2 years in Newcastle, I then studied Interior Architecture at University Wales Institute Cardiff. After graduating I accepted a week’s work experience in London, which ended up being a two-year varied, exciting and creative journey. Joining HLM Architects in 2005, I progressed to the position of Creative Director of their luxury residential brand, 33 Interiors. In 2018 I joined Goddard Littlefair and worked on some hugely exciting projects including high-end residential schemes with private clients, as well as multi-unit developments and show apartments. Having worked as an interior designer in London for twenty years, I decided the time was right to set up my own business, so Freeman Studio is now my main focus.
Tell us about your relationship with the BIID?
A key part of my career has been my involvement in the BIID, which has actively helped my development as an interior designer. It started in 2014 when I became a member as part of a registered interior design practice, and in 2015 I joined the professional practice committee. It is increasingly creatively rewarding as I have become more and more involved. To find a community of designers, to share experiences and see the passion of its members is such a positive influence. The BIID has given me a clear sense of direction and professional development, as my goal to be recognised as a registered designer has always been very important to me.
Tell us about any particular career highlights?
My last two projects with Goddard Littlefair were definitely career highlights. One was a dressed show apartment for a developer and the other was an apartment for a private client. As an interior designer I have worked on lots of projects and as the famous saying goes, the devil is in the detail. This particular project allowed a level of detail, execution and outcome that I am so very proud of. The material selection for the project was exquisite and we really had a fantastic team working on the project, that achieved great things. Curved stone skirtings, sinuous curved walls flowing into ceilings, horsehair inlays, parchment wall panelling, all of these finishes worked together perfectly. If I get to work on a project like that again, I will be a very happy man.
Tell us about your passions and what’s important to you?
From my art background I was taught about shade, texture and depth and having visited lots of art galleries, learning an appreciation for scale and proportion, Artwork is one of my big passions and defining aspect of a project for me. Ensuring that my work reflects the client’s personality is the most important part for me, creating a narrative, a progression through spaces and adding subtle details specific to their taste and passions. Finding joy in my work is essential, I treat interiors projects like pieces of art, questioning where the focus is, how someone feels when they are in the space, what the finishes are and how they bring a project to life.
I care deeply about the education, development and empowerment of the next generation of interior designers. University was my chosen route into my career and luckily this was part-funded. Through the BIID’s diversity and inclusion strategy and charitable organizations such as United in Design, my hope is that we can open up access and provide opportunities for individuals with a passion for design, whatever their background.
What are the challenges facing the interior design industry?
The design sector has faced unprecedented challenges in recent years, with global issues playing havoc with our supply chain, budgets, increasing costs, staff, and material availability. We are also faced with pressing environmental issues which have made the global sustainability agenda foremost for many designers.
The BIID has a well-established committee, which is developing our Sustainability Strategy, to help provide guidance to our members and the wider interior design community. We have a direct influence on clients, bringing sustainable solutions to the table and a tangible opportunity to make a difference. Taking small steps but as society changes, manufacturing evolves and clients awareness and passions take hold.
What does the remainder of 2022 look like for you?
Acknowledging and celebrating design projects that put sustainability front and centre, is high on the agenda, as 2022 sees our first BIID Interior Design Awards. We are proud to have a fantastic shortlist of projects large and small, commercial and residential, which represents a thriving interior design industry here in the UK. I am looking forward to seeing who triumphs on the night during our awards ceremony.
On a more personal level, I’m excited to build Freeman Studios, working on my own projects and see what this next chapter of my professional career has in store!
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