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Freedom furniture - you may have heard of them. Huge Aussie furniture and homewares brand? We’re pretty sure they don’t need an introduction. What you may not know about the brand, however, is that behind the scenes, a lot of time goes into sourcing and collaborating with artists, designers, and makers to produce their seasonal collections.

Hailing from the UK, multi-talented Stacey Benson’s professional career began at the Abercrombie & Fitch global headquarters where she saw the first days of her career as a graphic apparel designer. Having worked with various famous designers and celebrities then and since it’s fair to say that Stacey has a lot of international-grade experience under her belt. However, Freedom Furniture here in Australia is where she now resides, designing textiles and capturing beautiful imagery for their print collections.

We spoke to Stacey about her creative journey thus far, working solo (and the cons of it!), her projects with Freedom, and, finally, what her future holds.

Your creative journey has been one with a bit of history. Tell us about it (and don’t be afraid to drop a few names!)

After my time at Abercrombie & Fitch, I moved back ‘across the pond’ to Germany to work for PUMA at the Headquarters in Herzogenaurach. It was at that point I was given the chance to work on collaborative projects with artists and brands such as Karl Lagerfeld, the Kooples, Balmain Paris, the Weekend, Shantell Martin and Sophia Webster... to name drop a few! A few years on, after much thought and deliberation, I decided to take the plunge and start up my own design studio. Starting off with a team of me, myself and I, I sought out clients from my shortlist of industry connections and somehow managed to land some pretty exciting projects from brand identity design to editorial illustration, to custom wallpaper design. My proudest moments to date would include seeing my work featured in magazines such as Vogue, GQ, and Elle France.

Freedom Furniture store

Can you tell us a bit more about the company you created in Australia?

Moving to Australia in 2019 was my first ever ‘non-career move’ - and it felt terrifying! After landing in Australia with a semi-established start up business and a small handful of clients scattered around the world, I worked solo for over 6 months before bringing onboard other designers and collaborators. Seeking creative input from others allowed me to open up my client reach and also learn more about areas of design I knew little about.

What did you overcome to create that company? How important was collaboration in that process?

Overcoming my habitual need for teamwork was a huge challenge I faced in my first year of business. Going from an environment where I was constantly surrounded by fellow creatives to then working with clients who had very little awareness of the creative industry and thus the process was a fast learning curve.

Tell us about some of the design or product partnerships you’ve been a part of in the past.

The first collaborative project I exclusively worked on at PUMA was with New York based visual artist Shantell Martin. Shantell was an incredible creative to work with and despite being an established artist, gave me an unexpected amount of creative freedom. The process was fast-paced, experimental, slightly unconventional but extremely collaborative.

Now can you tell us all about your work with Freedom?

I have now been with Freedom for just over 12 months. Despite having a background in textiles, there was (and still is) a lot of learning to be done. I am fortunate enough to work closely with some experienced industry leaders such as Kate Hopwood (Head of Design) and Christie Maartenz (Head of Homewares) which has undoubtedly helped me transition into this role and industry. My venture into wall art began during a team meeting, where we were looking over the submitted photography samples for the new season. We were after something specific and struggling to find it. It was at that moment I hesitantly offered to capture the photographs myself. With a small amount of photography experience under my belt, I took the challenge on and went out to capture the images for two briefs: Architectural Coastal and Deep Shadow Florals.

The following morning I set my alarm for 5 am and drove to Bondi beach to shoot the iconic Icebergs pool. Walking up to the viewpoint I was devastated to see it was in fact empty. Turns out Thursdays are pool cleaning days at Icebergs! Luckily for me, the following morning turned out to be a glorious sunrise overlooking a spectacularly full and very clean Icebergs pool. My second brief for that season came with its own challenges. I had bought a bunch of poppies - still in their bud form- and was patiently waiting for them to open - and in the chill, they refused! After a long week and multiple poppy purchases, I finally had three or four open poppies to work with. Now I just needed a perfect afternoon to shine light on my balcony to create the ‘deep shadow’. It’s challenges like these that make the creative process at Freedom so exciting and fulfilling.

What has it been like for you as an individual to work with big companies like Freedom?

Working within big brands like Freedom is something I really enjoy as I find myself surrounded by so many different people. When working in isolation with designers based in other countries I had felt disconnected from this new country I was calling home.

There is a feeling of unity and a strong support network within a company like Freedom, something I deeply missed when working for myself.

While we’re on collaborations, what’s the best wine and cheese pairing? Literally? Isn’t all wine and cheese amazing!?

Who would be your dream creative partner?

Having worked with some big names, I am genuinely excited to work with undiscovered creators. At Freedom we are constantly on the lookout for our next collaborator and we all love that process!

What’s on the horizon for you?

I am excited for a continued journey with Freedom. Being able to witness and be a part of the turnaround plan is something I am incredibly grateful for. There is a lot of work to be done and equally as much fun to be had. Exciting things are on the horizon!


WORDS | Lucy Francis, Stacey Benson

IMAGES | Supplied



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