Samson House is a Fremantle landmark. Completed in 1888, it was designed by Sir Talbot Hobbs and was home to two generations of the Samson family. Its contents are a fascinating time-capsule traversing two centuries of changing taste in furniture, interiors and even packaging design. Now in the hands of the National Trust, unusual features include an indoor well and a 1950s home cinema with tram benches for seating.

Visit the house with commentary from a National Trust guide. Heritage architect Alan Kelsall will be on hand and a short panel discussion will explore what the house tells us about local history, culture and design.

Then we’ll adjourn for casual drinks and nibbles on the verandah to mark the end of another DesignFreo year. We hope you’ll join us!

Date: Saturday 27 November

Time: 2pm – 4.30pm

Where: Samson House, 61 Ellen Street, Fremantle (cnr Ord Street)  map

Tickets: $25 (plus booking fee) including drinks and nibbles. Free entry for children.

Thanks to our event sponsor Old Bridge Cellars and DesignFreo’s Principal Sponsor ICS Australia.

20 October 2021 // A special opportunity to visit the IOTA21 exhibition ‘Curiosity and Rituals of the Everyday’ after-hours with the show’s curators.

The inaugural Indian Ocean Craft Triennial (IOTA21) is a festival of contemporary craft practice from countries in the Indian Ocean rim. This exciting new event features an extensive program of over 40 exhibitions and workshops all over the State between September and November.

IOTA21 is anchored by a major exhibition, Curiosity and Rituals of the Everyday, spread across the Fremantle Arts Centre and the John Curtin Gallery. Curiosity and Rituals of the Everyday features work by internationally acclaimed practitioners, many of whom have not shown in this country before. The show is an exploration of traditional skills and craft techniques applied to contemporary artworks. Several are created by designers as an extension to their commercial work.

DesignFreo has been given the opportunity to visit the John Curtin Gallery at a special after-hours opening on Wednesday 20 October from 5pm. Visitors will be treated to drinks and expert commentary by the exhibition curators, Carola Akindele-Obe, Jude van der Merwe and Maggie Baxter. The focus will be on the nexus between craft and design. How do both add meaning and richness to everyday life within different cultural and creative contexts?

This is a wonderful show in a beautiful gallery. The event is free, however please register by 18 October for catering purposes.

Image: Left: YEE I-LANN, Harunan Motol 2021 (Boat’s Ladder), Bajau Sami DiLaut pandanus weave with commercial dyes, 488 x 550cm. Woven by Omadal Island Bajau Sama DiLaut weavers, Sabah, Malaysia. Right: YEE I-LANN, Tinukad Sequence #01 2021 (Ridges at the roof of the mouth), split bamboo pus weave with kayu obol black natural dye, matt sealant, 210 x 303cm. Woven by Keningau Dusun weavers, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo: Sue-Lyn Moyle, John Curtin Gallery. IOTA21: Indian Ocean Craft Triennial.

‘This house feels like a secret world in the suburbs.’ 
Simon Pendal, architect

Fifteen years ago, Simon Pendal started talking to Jurek and Michele about designing an addition to their workers’ cottage in Beaconsfield. Fast forward to 2021, and the house received the top award for alterations and additions at the WA Architecture Awards. 

The existing 1940s cottage was stripped back to its timber frame, jarrah floor and front verandah. With only subtle changes made to the plan, the integrity of this simple structure has been maintained. 

In contrast, the new extension to the rear is a series of cave-like chambers made from recycled brick – a skilfully crafted sequence of sculptural spaces.

What was the brief, and how did the project evolve? 

What ideas underpin the design, and what does it feel like to live there?

We are privileged to have the opportunity to visit Beaconsfield House and hear Simon, Jurek and Michele in conversation about this unique home.

Whether you’re thinking of building or renovating, or just love great design, this event is sure to inspire.

When: Saturday 9 October
Where: the address will be provided when you book
Tickets: $20 + booking fee

Join us in conversation with Elly Joel of Calypso Print Studio and Rosie Pow of Hubble + Duke as we explore their work, collaboration and success on a global stage.

Have you ever given thought to who creates the prints and patterns on your clothes and home furnishings? Elly Joel of Calypso Print Studio is a local textile designer whose unique designs are sold around the world, gracing everything from dresses in California to her own range of throws and cushions. 

Rosie Pow, of Hubble + Duke, is a multidisciplinary designer who has built an award-winning childrenswear business from a converted warehouse studio in Fremantle. With a loyal customer base worldwide, Rosie is passionate about collaborating with artists, ethical manufacturing and modern, classic design. 

Join us in conversation with Elly and Rosie as we explore their design stories. We’ll hear about their collaboration on a children’s swimsuit range using innovative fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and how Fremantle-based designers reach international markets.

If you’re interested in how a hand-drawn pattern travels from drawing board to a fabric, or how to create a design-driven business, this is for you. 

You’ll be treated to an evening inside a beautiful space above High Street in Fremantle’s West End, thanks to our generous event host, Detail, and your ticket price includes drinks from our good friends at Old Bridge Cellars.

When: Thursday 26 August
Where: Detail / Level One, 78 High Street, Fremantle
Time: 6pm – 8pm
Tickets: $25 + booking fee

DesignFreo’s Principal Sponsor is ICS Australia.

Image of Rosie and Elly by Abby London. Swimsuit image by Tom Sawyer Portraits


If you’re interested in learning how design communicates and build brands, or just how our next-gen creatives see the world, please join us.

Melle Branson is a force to be reckoned with – an emerging director, filmmaker and photographer whose raw talent is underpinned by a unique creative sensibility. Through her production company Till Death, Melle documents work, love and life, telling people’s stories with empathy and humour in compelling visual style.

Joseph Dennis is a rising star in communications design. As Creative Lead at Block Branding he uses design to help clients drive business. Through SWIM, his independent type practice, he crafts typefaces, wordmarks and brand identities that are getting noticed on a global stage.

Melle’s and Joseph’s branding for Till Death received a Commendation in the prestigious Communication Arts Awards. Joint projects include the short film The World of Riley, a love letter to community radio station RTRFM featuring presenter Rok Riley. See the film, and join Melle and Joseph as they riff on creative collaboration, flexibility, diversity and growth.

As an extension to Conversation06, Melle and Joseph are taking over the Old Mariners’ Chapel to create ‘PLAYDATE’, an exhibition of creative partnership – be the first to see it!

When: SECOND DATE ADDED Saturday 31 July 2021
Where: The Old Mariners Chapel, 4 High Street, Fremantle
Time: 4 – 6pm
Tickets: $25 + booking fee – includes drinks and nibbles

Thank you to our generous event sponsors Old Bridge Cellars
and The Fremantle School of Architecture at Notre Dame University

DesignFreo’s Principal Sponsor is ICS Australia.

If you’re considering sub-division, building or you just love beautiful design, this event is for you.

In-fill and medium density development are essential to ensuring a sustainable future for our city. However, many people fear what this means for the character and identity of their suburbs – and with good reason, given the poor quality of much development. How do we do a better job?

Architect Kate FitzGerald, through her practice Whispering Smith and development company New Resident, is showing the way. Her projects House A and B are prototypes for a different kind of in-fill, throwing out the cookie-cutter in favour of sustainable design that can house all kinds of people.

Join us in conversation as Kate shares her work and explains how the way we sub-divide and build can enrich life in our suburbs.

When: Thursday 17 June
Where: Sometimes Gallery, 6 King William Street, South Fremantle, WA, 6162
Time: 6pm – 8pm
Tickets: $25 + booking fee – includes drinks and nibbles

Thank you to our generous event sponsors Old Bridge Cellars

DesignFreo’s Principal Sponsor is ICS Australia.

House A by Whispering Smith / Image: Ben Hoskings

Almost a year ago, DesignFreo hosted our inaugural event to discuss the fate of the much-loved Fremantle Traffic Bridge and explore our aspirations for its replacement.

Since then, Main Roads has named the project the Swan River Crossings and presented an unpopular proposal that drew widespread protest from a community demanding greater consultation and a better solution.

In response, Main Roads undertook a series of community forums and sought public input. Main Roads has now released 4 alignment options for public review and feedback.

For DesignFreo Conversation 04, we’ve invited our expert panel back to examine how the 4 options stack up against our original design criteria and fit into the broader regional plan.

Additional panels members will add their voices to this important community conversation.

Join the discussion on this city-shaping project and importantly, be sure to respond to the Main Roads survey that closes the following day, 1 June. 

You can familiarise yourself with the 4 alignment options here.

Panel members:

  • Anthony Deurloo, Director, Fremantle Bridges Alliance
  • Rebecca Clarkson, Community Development Expert / Better Bridge Campaign
  • Russell Kingdom, Urban Designer (Manager City Design and Projects, City of Fremantle)
  • Dr Anthony Duckworth, Research Fellow, Australian Urban Design Research Centre
  • Ingrid Maher, North Fremantle Community Association

An invitation has been extended to Farley Garlett, Aboriginal Elder who has been consulting on the project. Original panel member Brendan Moore is unable to attend. 

The conversation will be facilitated by architect Nic Brunsdon.

Date: Monday 31 May
Venue: Tannock Hall of Education, Cliff St, Fremantle
Time: 6.00 pm – 8 pm

Tickets are free however registration is essential. 

We thank the Fremantle School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame for supporting this event.

Thank you to Old Bridge Cellars and to our Principal Sponsor:

For the third in our Conversation series we’re doing something different – you get to do the talking!

Spend an evening at Fremantle Arts Centre viewing our first exhibition, DesignFreo: Object, Space, Place, where the exhibiting designers will be in the galleries to chat with you about all things design.

Whether you have a burning question or are just curious, this is a special opportunity to meet with local designers in a relaxed and informal environment.

Exhibition curator and DesignFreo founder Pippa Hurst will introduce the show and the ticket price includes wood fired pizza and a couple of drinks.

The Art Centre’s shop FOUND will be open for hassle-free Christmas shopping.

This will be a great night to kick off the festive season and help DesignFreo celebrate our first year. We’d love to see you there!

Participating designers

Unfortunately Simone Nabholz, ceramicist from Winterwares, can’t join us but you’ll still be able to see her work.

Date Wednesday 9 December

Time 6pm – 9pm

Tickets $15 (plus booking fee) includes 2 drinks and wood-fired pizza

Location Fremantle Arts Centre / 1 Finnerty Street / Fremantle, WA 6160

View Map

Big thanks to Fremantle Arts Centre and our principal sponsor ICS Australia for their generous support.

Image: Rob Frith

To be opened by Professor Sarah McGann, Head of the Fremantle School of Architecture and Dean of Arts and Sciences at The University of Notre Dame

DJ | Bar open | Woodfired pizza
Exhibition runs Sat 28 November 2020 – Sunday 24January 2021
RSVP by Wed 25 Nov via email or Facebook

Fremantle is home to a vibrant community of talented designers. Through the work of practitioners who live and create in the port city, DesignFreo | Object, Space, Place looks at the tangible and intangible ways that design shapes our experiences.

Design is everywhere and we all make design decisions every day – what to wear, what to buy, where we live and how to get from A to B. In this sense we are all designers. What is the legacy of our design decisions? What values are embedded in the things that surround us? And how are both informed by location?

In a year of pandemic these questions have been brought into even sharper focus. There has never been a more pressing time examine the way we live, and to look locally for the things that sustain us as individuals and a community.

The show includes a typographic treasure hunt for kids, and a map takes you out of the gallery into the city to see Fremantle through a design lens.

Featured designers:


Penhale & Winter 

Becky Chilcott and Isabel Kruger 

squarepeg home

Tiller Rides 

Monster Alphabets_Dilemma 


Ohlo Studio and Remington Matters

The Second Salon

Keep you eye out for our additional programmed events during the exhibition. The first is DesignFreo Conversation 03 on December 9, where you’ll have the opportunity to hear and meet with the designers. Visit Fremantle Arts Centre to see the summer program of kids and adult classes, including a scent workshop with Katie Leenan.

image: Knutsford Stages 1 & 2 / spaceagency architects / Dimmity Walker

Join DesignFreo on location with award-winning architect Nic Brunsdon at his just-completed East Fremantle House.

Nic Brunsdon’s East Fremantle House is an alteration and addition to a heritage cottage on a narrow block.

We’re privileged to have the opportunity to go on site at this family home, where architect, client and builder will walk us through the project.

What was the brief?

What is the thinking behind the design?

And what makes it great?

Whether you’re considering engaging an architect or just interested in the process, this is a chance to soak up some great local design.

We’d love to see you there!

Date: Saturday 03 October
Venue: East Fremantle House – address on booking
Time: 9.30 – 11am
Tickets $20 (plus booking fee)

Thanks to DesignFreo’s Principal Sponsor ICS Australia.⁠