51°30’35”N 0°7’5”W

 

Before 1997

LAYING THE GROUND

The seeds of FreeState are sown in Liverpool and Glasgow, where we train as architects. We like learning and the opportunities to experiment, but what we love is the grit of the merchant city, its clubs and its markets. All life is an experience – and most of it is designed.

1997 – 1999

AN OPEN PLATFORM

We meet at the Royal College of Art and plot our escape from the confines of only architecture. Scheming in bars, we experiment across sectors, and champion everything as design. We network. We broadcast. We make things – sometimes well, sometimes badly. We form a company, ScottBoyens.

1999 – 2001

KIDS IN A SWEET SHOP

Before leaving the RCA, we’re lucky enough to bag a commission for a piece in the Millennium Dome Experience. The springboard for everything that follows, we dive into the world of the exhibition, dabble in product design, and refurbish houses. We’re brilliantly naive – and equally energetic.

2001 – 2002

WHIPPING UP A STORM

Friend and fellow RCA architect Charlie Luxton joins and ScottBoyens becomes MAKE. Setting ourselves a grotesquely broad remit, we are all things to all briefs. Future co-founder of FreeState Ben Johnson joins in time for Electric Storm in Southbank and the Victoria Albert Museum’s Zoomorphic – both something of a steep learning curve.

2002 – 2004

WHERE WE FIND OUR FEET

Charlie leaves for a life in TV and MAKE becomes FreeState, after Joep van Lieshout’s AVL- Ville in Rotterdam, whose experimental punk-like irreverence we love. Our guiding mantra: experiences shape us; we shape those experiences. Our identity sorted, we go to market.

2004 – 2006

CATCHING A BREAK

We meet MTV’s James Scroggs, an enduring inspiration. We send Channel 4 a model four in a shoebox. It becomes the Big Four and wins us our first Cannes Lion. Virgin Atlantic likes it, wants something like it, but also a new traveller experience. We begin to journey-map the design. We’re on the move.

2007 – 2012

MEETING THE MEGABRANDS

Our studio now on Goodge Street, we design Sony’s 2008 Berlin tradeshow and campaign, and everything goes nuts. We work with MTV, Calvin Klein, Dolby, Swatch, and Nokia, win our second Cannes Lion, and design the world’s biggest brand experience for Samsung. Giant budgets and the opportunity to get stuck into everything opens up new narrative-driven worlds.

2012 – 2015

TALKING THE WALK

Taking a step back, we stage The Zeitgeist Project, share our ideas on various global platforms, and host our quarterly Freedinners. We win another Cannes Lion, for Dune Grass. After Jan Gehl, we champion a life-first approach to design, particularly in the built environment. PEOPLE, PROGRAMME, PLACE. We make a lot of noise.

2015 – 2020

GOING BACK TO OUR ROOTS

A serendipitous chain of events sees us merge with Hassell. The US, Australia, Asia – we go global. Bringing all that brand work to bear on experience masterplanning the city, we work across multiple sectors. Clients include Melbourne Airport, Nike, and The Crown Estate. Designing for the city as experience, we’re back to where we began.

2021 and ongoing

NOW AND TOMORROW

Our first book under our belts, the second on its way, we establish a set of working principles. We’re a practice and we’re trying to pave a new way of doing things right, despite the pandemic. We’re twenty next year and it feels great. Things feel and look good.