A company that builds your favourite piece
What started back in 2012 as a one-man show has now, in little more than a decade, become an established European design brand: Freifrau Manufaktur. Operating from Lemgo, a small town in Westphalia, Germany, this exclusive manufacturer of seating furniture is characterised by the highest possible levels of comfort, lovingly-rendered details, and exacting quality and sustainability standards. Working with big-name designers and those at the start of their careers alike, since it was founded, Freifrau has built up a portfolio of timeless chairs, armchairs, and settees, wide-ranging and yet all with a unifying emphasis on individual comfort, total versatility, and undeniable individuality.
When, in 2012, trained carpenter Hansjörg Helweg decided to resign from his job, he had a clear vision in his mind – and set up Freifrau, a brand for seating furniture which, right from its beginnings, has always been different.
Freifrau furniture is elegant, stylish, and, true to the meaning of its name in German (literally ‘free woman’), often decidedly feminine. That’s why the various collections are called by female forenames – that, and because the names give them a personality. Amelie was the first Freifrau chair, and remains a stalwart of the product range to this day. Over the years, the Amelie shell has been given a variety of frames in her incarnations as a chair, an armchair, and a barstool: rails, cantilevers, circular bases, wooden cross… The same goes for the beautifully-named Leya, the second Freifrau line, and speaks volumes about Freifrau’s philosophy and character: it is in the company’s DNA to combine and develop its product lines, offering a wide range of the highest-quality textiles and most recognisable leather coverings for each of the numerous product variants.
The Leya series, introduced as a single model and then developed into a teeming collection of chairs, armchairs, benches, barstools, rocking and swinging chairs, has proven to be a real milestone on Freifrau’s journey – and might also be seen as the brand’s breakthrough, too. For it was the Leya family and its diversity which went on to provide the blueprint for future Freifrau products and the company maxim that no chair should ever be on its own in a catalogue. “A design for Freifrau must always have the potential for siblings, to be one of a family which helps us offer a fuller portfolio, and this is a key part of the brief we provide to people we work with,” explains Hansjörg Helweg. For customers, the advantage is that they have the opportunity to use their preferred design everywhere in their homes, from the kitchen to the study.Designed seating, and something personal, too, that´s what Freifrau stands for: “We have the great fortune of working with an upholsterer in the region,” says Hansjörg Helweg, “where we can easily carry out quality checks on fabrics.” This enables Freifrau to retain its exceptionally high standards for leather and textile coverings while also allowing customers to personalise their pieces with their own choice of fabric. Freifrau products only ever ‘wear’ the finest apparel!
“At the imm cologne 2015, we got a lot of orders and realised: we’ve made it! We’re established and from now on, the only way is up,” recalls Birgit Hoffmann, Creative Director at Freifrau from day one. Working with Christoph Kahleyss, with whom she runs a design bureau, she is the woman behind the Amelie and Leya lines, as well as several other Freifrau products; another part of her role is to manage cooperations with new designers as they help the brand to expand its product range in an organic, authentic way. Freifrau seating furniture has since been designed by Neuland (Kya), Patrick Frey (Stella), Murken Hansen (Rubie), Lucie Koldova (Celine), Sebastian Herkner (Ona and Theia), and, most recently, Hanne Willmann (Nana).
The individuality and individualization of our products arises from the close customer proximity. Each seating is planned on personal taste and only when perfect, passed on to our manufacture and thus to production.
Whether exclusive fabrics and/or high-quality fabrics that are available in several colours, chair frames from natural solid wood or steel frames which can be coated in all RAL colours - the possibilities are almost endless.
We build your own personal seating!