Think Outside with Susan Freeman


Architect Susan Freeman from Freeman Ryan will speak at our last Think Outside talk on Wednesday 11 November. Susan  is co-founder of Freeman Ryan Design, a design firm that creates exhibitions and visitor experiences that set new standards of innovation and design excellence in engaging and inspiring audiences. They have extensive experience both within Australia and internationally in the museum and cultural tourism industries, and develop design solutions that respond to the unique needs and qualities of each project.


What does a typical day look like for you?

Bondi Beach for a swim – and then into the studio in Surry Hills, Sydney. From there anything can unfold! We have a great team of 16 designers and curators, and we work very collaboratively. I am sometimes traveling to jobs – these may be anywhere from Melbourne to Mildura, Parramatta to Perth, or Sydney Opera House to Singapore.

What can attendees to the Think Outside lecture expect to hear?

Some short sharp experiences and observations in working with Conflict, Loss and Memory through the lens of design, specifically exhibitions.

Where do you go to get inspiration?

I think I draw inspiration from the natural world as well as the built and creative environment – I head for the ocean or the bush on some occasions, and art galleries and architecture at other times. Perhaps for solace and sanity as well as inspiration.

What are your top 5 favourite design books?

Design as Future Making edited by Susan Yelavich and Barbara Adams
The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton
Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form Venturi, Robert, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour
Lateral Thinking Edward de Bono

If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you do?

Something design related –studying architecture was a wonderful way to open the door to many options … design, building, making.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Greatest professional achievement is the work of FRD, the exhibitions we have developed and opened in our 18 years of practice. This is collective, not individual, achievement. Personally, (not to say I am fully responsible for the outcome), I am incredibly proud of, and inspired by, my son, who is an architecture student and a great representative of what the next generation can bring to the world.

What is one piece of advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out in your profession?

Practice does not make perfect, but rather leads to greater knowledge and a broader understanding of how much there is to know! Mistakes are a vital part of this process.

What inspires your work?

Other creative fields like art, music, architecture and dance.

What principles inform your work?

When I was studying we would often refer to ‘first principles’ – which to me meant reaching the core idea, the truth in the concept, and referencing it through the entire design process.

Do you have any tips for getting your ideas off the ground?

Dream, design, consult, listen, review, persist.

What role do you think design can play in addressing 21st century problems/challenges that are typically considered outside of the realm of design?

Part of the process of design is about problem solving – not just to accommodate a pragmatic brief, but to fully interrogate a problem, or the circumstance. I think social issues can be constructively approached with design thinking.

Who is your double doppelgänger?

Probably my parents, but my husband suggests Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn – entirely aspirational.

ocation: The Edge Auditorium, level 1, The Edge, State Library

Date:  Wed 11 November 2015

Time: 6.30pm–8pm (5.30pm for networking drinks)

Cost: Free, bookings required