George Freeman obituary

Other lives: Interior designer whose career took him all over the world

My father, George Freeman, who has died aged 89, was an interior designer whose varied career took him all over the world. As George Freeman Design Consultants, working from a small office close to his home in London, he specialised in designing the interiors of hotels in places such as Egypt, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Morocco and Kenya. He loved that line of work, as he particularly enjoyed the chance to visit new countries and to experience different cultures.

George was born to a working-class couple, Elizabeth (nee Quickenden) and Richard Freeman, and grew up in north London. Along with his elder brother, Dick, he was evacuated in the early years of the second world war to Childwickbury Manor in Hertfordshire, which later became the home of the film director Stanley Kubrick.

At 13 he went to the Northern Polytechnic in London, followed by the Central School of Arts and Crafts. He then had various jobs in exhibition design, during the course of which he met Sir Hugh Casson, who encouraged him to apply to the Royal College of Art, where Casson and his wife, Margaret, were running the interior design school.

Afterwards there were spells working on interior design with others, including Ron Carter. Then, as he developed his own practice, he got to know Sir Misha Black, one of the founder members of the Design Research Unit consultancy, which George was then invited to join, retaining his own practice work within the unit’s premises. Among the many projects that George took up around this time was the design of the Isfahan exhibition that was part of the World of Islam festival at the British Museum in 1976. He also designed banking halls for HSBC and for the British Bank of the Middle East.

Later he had a long association with Kingston University, as both part-time design tutor and governor, and he was involved in various capacities with the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers (now the Chartered Society of Designers), serving as its president from 1979 to 1981.

In retirement from 2012 onwards, George retained his interest in painting and would try to visit as many exhibitions as possible, whether in London or his second-favourite city, Paris. He was also a great cricket fan, and was an MCC member at Lord’s.

A Guardian reader throughout his adult years, he would frequently buy two copies each day to boost sales. He was sociable and inclusive, with a wide circle of friends from different nationalities, backgrounds and political views. He was also a devoted and supportive father.

George’s first marriage, to Heidi (nee Simon), ended in divorce; his second, in 1979, was to Ann (nee Piggott), with whom he enjoyed a full and well-travelled life.

He is survived by Ann, by his children from his first marriage, James and me, and by Ann’s children from an earlier relationship, Jo, Sarah and Jim.

Richard Freeman

The GuardianTramp

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