Designing Quality since 1986

Behind Freud

Inspired by stories of his father’s inter-war life spent in the coffee houses of Central Europe, where coffee, beer, culture and conversation flowed hand in hand, David Freud founded FREUD design and café-bars in 1986. With the aim of bringing the bustle and chatter of his father’s treasured Viennese hang-outs to London, his first venture was to create the first café-bar in England – Freud on Shaftesbury Avenue – a retreat where one can chose from a single menu, ordering food, coffee and alcohol in a striking but relaxed environment. More than that, it was an experiment. Not only did it sell drink and, through the inter-locking café and shop spaces, design. It also offered a change in the way we interact with each other and the world around us.

Graduating from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1973, David’s passion for the ideas behind the way things look carries through into every aspect of FREUD, his preoccupation with the virtues of lasting design being seen not only in the beautiful table and glassware products created by the design house, but also in the FREUD buildings, which house the enterprise. At 198 Shaftesbury Avenue, home of the original café-bar, gallery and shop spaces, black, green and grey slate are juxtaposed against cement, York stone and steel – a concept which looks back to the past, from Medieval cloisters to Baroque architecture, for inspiration – but not imitation. This is a reflection of David’s belief that we should use the past as a ‘library of ideas’ to inform and enrich our imaginations, an idea which remains at the heart of our thinking and creations.

Twenty-six years after opening its doors and being discovered by a London crowd who made it their own, FREUD has continued naturally to evolve. So too has the Freud family, bringing fresh ideas to the project. In Oxford, at the Freud café David’s eldest son is working with a new team to renew the spirit of café society. In London, his daughter has 
joined the design team to refresh its creativity.